Origen (Cont.)Origen Against Celsus. (Cont.)

Book III. (C0nt.)


Now if these things be so, why should it not be consistent with reason to hold with regard to Jesus, who was able to effect results so great, that there dwelt in Him no ordinary divinity? while this was not the case either with the Proconnesian Aristeas (although Apollo would have him regarded as a god), or with the other individuals enumerated by Celsus when he says, “No one regards Abaris the Hyperborean as a god, who was possessed of such power as to be borne along like an arrow from a bow.”92 For with what object did the deity who bestowed upon this Hyperborean Abaris the power of being carried along like an arrow, confer upon him such a gift? Was it that the human race might be benefited thereby,93 or did he himself obtain any advantage from the possession of such a power? – always supposing it to be conceded that these statements are not wholly inventions, but that the thing actually happened through the co-operation of some demon. But if it be recorded that my Jesus was received up into glory, (cf. 1Ti_3:16) I perceive the divine arrangement94 in such an act, viz., because God, who brought this to pass, commends in this way the Teacher to those who witnessed it, in order that as men who are contending not for human doctrine, but for divine teaching, they may devote themselves as far as possible to the God who is over all, and may do all things in order to please Him, as those who are to receive in the divine judgment the reward of the good or evil which they have wrought in this life.


Chap. XXXII.

But as Celsus next mentions the case of the Clazomenian, subjoining to the story about him this remark, “Do they not report that his soul frequently quitted his body, and flitted about in an incorporeal form? and yet men did not regard him as a god,” we have to answer that probably certain wicked demons contrived that such statements should be committed to writing (for I do not believe that they contrived that such a thing should actually take place), in order that the predictions regarding Jesus, and the discourses uttered by Him, might either be evil spoken of, as inventions like these, or might excite no surprise, as not being more remarkable than other occurrences. But my Jesus said regarding His own soul (which was separated from the body, not by virtue of any human necessity, but by the miraculous power which was given Him also for this purpose): “No one taketh my life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (cf. Joh_10:18) For as He had power to lay it down, He laid it down when He said, “Father, why hast Thou forsaken Me? And when He had cried with a loud voice, He gave up the ghost,” (cf. Mat_27:46-50) anticipating the public executioners of the crucified, who break the legs of the victims, and who do so in order that their punishment may not be further prolonged. And He “took His life,” when He manifested Himself to His disciples, having in their presence foretold to the unbelieving Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again,” (cf. Joh_2:19) and “He spake this of the temple of His body;” the prophets, moreover, having predicted such a result in many other passages of their writings, and in this, “My flesh also shall rest in hope: for Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Psa_16:9, Psa_16:10)



Celsus, however, shows that he has read a good many Grecian histories, when he quotes further what is told of Cleomedes of Astypalaea, “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,95 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,” (Joh_5:39) and to the wish of Paul, who taught that “we ought to know how to answer every man;” (cf. Col_4:6) nay, also of him who said, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh of you a reason of the faith96 that is in you.” (1Pe_3:15) 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 Astypalaean, a result like that which is produced by the performers of juggling tricks,97 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.”


Chap. XXXIV.

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 Getae who worship Zamolxis, and the Cilicians who worship Mopsus, and the Acarnanians 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,98 and who bestows upon us the benefits which come from the Father, and who as High Priest conveys our prayers to the supreme God.


Chap. XXXV.

But I should like, in answer to him who for some unknown reason advances such statements as the above, to make in a conversational way99 some such remarks as the following, which seem not inappropriate to him. Are then those persons whom you have mentioned nonentities, and is there no power in Lebadea connected with Trophonius, nor in Thebes with the temple of Amphiaraus, nor in Acarnania with Amphilochus, nor in Cilicia with Mopsus? Or is there in such persons some being, either a demon, or a hero, or even a god, working works which are beyond the reach of man? For if he answer that there is nothing either demoniacal or divine about these individuals more than others, then let him at once make known his own opinion, as being that of an Epicurean, and of one who does not hold the same views with the Greeks, and who neither recognises demons nor worships gods as do the Greeks; and let it be shown that it was to no purpose that he adduced the instances previously enumerated (as if he believed them to be true), together with those which he adds in the following pages. But if he will assert that the persons spoken of are either demons, or heroes, or even gods, let him notice that he will establish by what he has admitted a result which he does not desire, viz., that Jesus also was some such being; for which reason, too, he was able to demonstrate to not a few that He had come down from God to visit the human race. And if he once admit this, see whether he will not be forced to confess that He is mightier than those individuals with whom he classed Him, seeing none of the latter forbids the offering of honour to the others; while He, having confidence in Himself, because He is more powerful than all those others, forbids them to be received as divine100 because they are wicked demons, who have taken possession of places on earth, through inability to rise to the purer and diviner region, whither the grossnesses of earth and its countless evils cannot reach.


Chap. XXXVI.

But as he next introduces the case of the favourite of Adrian (I refer to the accounts regarding the youth Antinous, and the honours paid him by the inhabitants of the city of Antinous in Egypt), and imagines that the honour paid to him falls little short of that which we render to Jesus, let us show in what a spirit of hostility this statement is made. For what is there in common between a life lived among the favourites of Adrian, by one who did not abstain even from unnatural lusts, and that of the venerable Jesus, against whom even they who brought countless other charges, and who told so many falsehoods, were not able to allege that He manifested, even in the slightest degree, any tendency to what was licentious?101 Nay, further, if one were to investigate, in a spirit of truth and impartiality, the stories relating to Antinous, he would find that it was due to the magical arts and rites of the Egyptians that there was even the appearance of his performing anything (marvellous) in the city which bears his name, and that too only after his decease, – an effect which is said to have been produced in other temples by the Egyptians, and those who are skilled in the arts which they practise. For they set up in certain places demons claiming prophetic or healing power, and which frequently torture those who seem to have committed any mistake about ordinary kinds of food, or about touching the dead body of a man, that they may have the appearance of alarming the uneducated multitude. Of this nature is the being that is considered to be a god in Antinoopolis in Egypt, whose (reputed) virtues are the lying inventions of some who live by the gain derived therefrom;102 while others, deceived by the demon placed there, and others again convicted by a weak conscience, actually think that they are paying a divine penalty inflicted by Antinous. Of such a nature also are the mysteries which they perform, and the seeming predictions which they utter. Far different from such are those of Jesus. For it was no company of sorcerers, paying court to a king or ruler at his bidding, who seemed to have made him a god; but the Architect of the universe Himself, in keeping with the marvellously persuasive power of His words,103 commended Him as worthy of honour, not only to those men who were well disposed, but to demons also, and other unseen powers, which even at the present time show that they either fear the name of Jesus as that of a being of superior power, or reverentially accept Him as their legal ruler.104 For if the commendation had not been given Him by God, the demons would not have withdrawn from those whom they had assailed, in obedience to the mere mention of His name.



The Egyptians, then, having been taught to worship Antinous, will, if you compare him with Apollo or Zeus, endure such a comparison, Antinous being magnified in their estimation through being classed with these deities; for Celsus is clearly convicted of falsehood when he says, “that they will not endure his being compared with Apollo or Zeus.” Whereas Christians (who have learned that their eternal life consists in knowing the only true God, who is over all, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent; and who have learned also that all the gods of the heathen are greedy demons, which flit around sacrifices and blood, and other sacrificial accompaniments,105 in order to deceive those who have not taken refuge with the God who is over all, but that the divine and holy angels of God are of a different nature and will106 from all the demons on earth, and that they are known to those exceedingly few persons who have carefully and intelligently investigated these matters) will not endure a comparison to be made between them and Apollo or Zeus, or any being worshipped with odour and blood and sacrifices; some of them, so acting from their extreme simplicity, not being able to give a reason for their conduct, but sincerely observing the precepts which they have received; others, again, for reasons not to be lightly regarded, nay, even of a profound description, and (as a Greek would say) drawn from the inner nature of things;107 and amongst the latter of these God is a frequent subject of conversation, and those who are honoured by God, through His only-begotten Word, with participation in His divinity, and therefore also in His name. They speak much, too, both regarding the angels of God and those who are opposed to the truth, but have been deceived; and who, in consequence of being deceived, call them gods or angels of God, or good demons, or heroes who have become such by the transference into them of a good human soul.108 And such Christians will also show, that as in philosophy there are many who appear to be in possession of the truth, who have yet either deceived themselves by plausible arguments, or by rashly assenting to what was brought forward and discovered by others; so also, among those souls which exist apart from bodies, both angels and demons, there are some which have been induced by plausible reasons to declare themselves gods. And because it was impossible that the reasons of such things could be discovered by men with perfect exactness, it was deemed safe that no mortal should entrust himself to any being as to God, with the exception of Jesus Christ, who is, as it were, the Ruler over all things, and who both beheld these weighty secrets, and made them known to a few.



The belief, then, in Antinous,109 or any other such person, whether among the Egyptians or the Greeks, is, so to speak, unfortunate; while the belief in Jesus would seem to be either a fortunate one, or the result of thorough investigation, having the appearance of the former to the multitude, and of the latter to exceedingly few.110 And when I speak of a certain belief being, as the multitude would call it, unfortunate, I in such a case refer the cause to God, who knows the reasons of the various fates allotted to each one who enters human life. The Greeks, moreover, will admit that even amongst those who are considered to be most largely endowed with wisdom, good fortune has had much to do, as in the choice of teachers of one kind rather than another, and in meeting with a better class of instructors (there being teachers who taught the most opposite doctrines), and in being brought up in better circumstances; for the bringing up of many has been amid surroundings of such a kind, that they were prevented from ever receiving any idea of better things, but constantly passed their life, from their earliest youth, either as the favourites of licentious men or of tyrants, or in some other wretched condition which forbade the soul to look upwards. And the causes of these varied fortunes, according to all probability, are to be found in the reasons of providence, though it is not easy for men to ascertain these; but I have said what I have done by way of digression from the main body of my subject, on account of the proverb, that “such is the power of faith, because it seizes that which first presents itself.”111 For it was necessary, owing to the different methods of education, to speak of the differences of belief among men, some of whom are more, others less fortunate in their belief; and from this to proceed to show that what is termed good or bad fortune would appear to contribute even in the case of the most talented, to their appearing to be more fully endowed with reason and to give their assent on grounds of reason to the majority of human opinions. But enough on these points.


Chap. XXXIX.

We must notice the remarks which Celsus next makes, when he says to us, that “faith, having taken possession of our minds, makes us yield the assent which we give to the doctrine of Jesus;” for of a truth it is faith which does produce such an assent. Observe, however, whether that faith does not of itself exhibit what is worthy of praise, seeing we entrust ourselves to the God who is over all, acknowledging our gratitude to Him who has led us to such a faith, and declaring that He could not have attempted or accomplished such a result without the divine assistance. And we have confidence also in the intentions of the writers of the Gospels, observing their piety and conscientiousness, manifested in their writings, which contain nothing that is spurious, or deceptive,112 or false, or cunning; for it is evident to us that souls unacquainted with those artifices which are taught by the cunning sophistry of the Greeks (which is characterized by great plausibility and acuteness), and by the kind of rhetoric in vogue in the courts of justice, would not have been able thus to invent occurrences which are fitted of themselves to conduct to faith, and to a life in keeping with faith. And I am of opinion that it was on this account that Jesus wished to employ such persons as teachers of His doctrines, viz., that there might be no ground for any suspicion of plausible sophistry, but that it might clearly appear to all who were capable of understanding, that the guileless purpose of the writers being, so to speak, marked with great simplicity, was deemed worthy of being accompanied by a diviner power, which accomplished far more than it seemed possible could be accomplished by a periphrasis of words, and a weaving of sentences, accompanied by all the distinctions of Grecian art.


Chap. XL.

But observe whether the principles of our faith, harmonizing with the general ideas implanted in our minds at birth, do not produce a change upon those who listen candidly to its statements; for although a perverted view of things, with the aid of much instruction to the same effect, has been able to implant in the minds of the multitude the belief that images are gods, and that things made of gold, and silver, and ivory, and stone are deserving of worship, yet common sense113 forbids the supposition that God is at all a piece of corruptible matter, or is honoured when made to assume by men a form embodied in dead matter, fashioned according to some image or symbol of His appearance. And therefore we say at once of images that they are not gods, and of such creations (of art) that they are not to be compared with the Creator, but are small in contrast with the God who is over all, and who created, and upholds, and governs the universe. And the rational soul recognising, as it were, its relationship (to the divine), at once rejects what it for a time supposed to be gods, and resumes its natural love114 for its Creator; and because of its affection towards Him, receives Him also who first presented these truths to all nations through the disciples whom He had appointed, and whom He sent forth, furnished with divine power and authority, to proclaim the doctrine regarding God and His kingdom.


Chap. XLI.

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,115 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?116 


Chap. XLII.

Celsus, then, does not speak as a good reasoner,117 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 Aesculapius, and Dionysus, and Hercules? To which we reply, “What great deed has Aesculapius, 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?


Chap. XLIII.

He next says of us, that “we ridicule those who worship Jupiter, because his tomb is pointed out in the island of Crete; and yet we worship him who rose from the tomb,118 although ignorant of the grounds119 on which the Cretans observe such a custom.” Observe now that he thus undertakes the defence of the Cretans, and of Jupiter, and of his tomb, alluding obscurely to the allegorical notions, in conformity with which the myth regarding Jupiter is said to have been invented; while he assails us who acknowledge that our Jesus has been buried, indeed, but who maintain that He has also been raised from the tomb, – a statement which the Cretans have not yet made regarding Jupiter. But since he appears to admit that the tomb of Jupiter is in Crete, when he says that “we are ignorant of the grounds on which the Cretans observe such a custom,” we reply that Callimachus the Cyrenian, who had read innumerable poetic compositions, and nearly the whole of Greek history, was not acquainted with any allegorical meaning which was contained in the stories about Jupiter and his tomb; and accordingly he accuses the Cretans in his hymn addressed to Jupiter, in the words:120 – 

“The Cretans are always liars: for thy tomb, O king,

The Cretans have reared; and yet thou didst not die,

For thou ever livest.”

Now he who said, “Thou didst not die, for thou ever livest,” in denying that Jupiter’s tomb was in Crete, records nevertheless that in Jupiter there was the beginning of death.121 But birth upon earth is the beginning of death. And his words run: – 

“And Rhea bore thee among the Parrhasians;” – 

whereas he ought to have seen, after denying that the birth of Jupiter took place in Crete because of his tomb, that it was quite congruous with his birth in Arcadia that he who was born should also die. And the following is the manner in which Callimachus speaks of these things: “O Jupiter, some say that thou weft born on the mountains of Ida, others in Arcadia. Which of them, O father, have lied? The Cretans are always liars,” etc. Now it is Celsus who made us discuss these topics, by the unfair manner in which he deals with Jesus, in giving his assent to what is related about His death and burial, but regarding as an invention His resurrection from the dead, although this was not only foretold by innumerable prophets, but many proofs also were given of His having appeared after death.


Chap. XLIV.

After these points Celsus quotes some objections against the doctrine of Jesus, made by a very few individuals who are considered Christians, not of the more intelligent, as he supposes, but of the more ignorant class, and asserts that “the following are the rules laid down by them. Let no one come to us who has been instructed, or who is wise or prudent (for such qualifications are deemed evil by us); but if there be any ignorant, or unintelligent, or uninstructed, or foolish persons, let them come with confidence. By which words, acknowledging that such individuals are worthy of their God, they manifestly show that they desire and are able to gain over only the silly, and the mean, and the stupid, with women and children.”122 In reply to which, we say that, as if, while Jesus teaches continence, and says, “Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart,” one were to behold a few of those who are deemed to be Christians living licentiously, he would most justly blame them for living contrary to the teaching of Jesus, but would act most unreasonably if he were to charge the Gospel with their censurable conduct; so, if he found nevertheless that the doctrine of the Christians invites men to wisdom, the blame then must remain with those who rest in their own ignorance, and who utter, not what Celsus relates (for although some of them are simple and ignorant, they do not speak so shamelessly as he alleges), but other things of much less serious import, which, however, serve to turn aside men from the practice of wisdom.


Chap. XLV.

But that the object of Christianity123 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 Thy wisdom Thou hast manifested to me.”124 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 spake 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 had125 and there was no more spirit in her.126 And she said to the king, The report is true which I heard in mine own land regarding thee and thy wisdom; and I believed not them who told me, until I had come, and mine eyes have seen it. And, lo, they did not tell me the half. Thou hast added wisdom and possessions above all the report which I heard.” (cf. 1Ki_10:1-9) 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 spake three thousand proverbs, and his songs were five thousand. And he spake of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop which springeth 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.”127

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.128 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?” (Hos_14:9) 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, “Art thou wiser than Daniel? Every secret was not revealed to thee.” (cf. Eze_28:3)


Chap. XLVI.

And if you come to the books written after the time of Jesus, you will find that those multitudes of believers who hear the parables are, as it were, “without,” and worthy only of exoteric doctrines, while the disciples learn in private the explanation of the parables. For, privately, to His own disciples did Jesus open up all things, esteeming above the multitudes those who desired to know His wisdom. And He promises to those who believe upon Him to send them wise men and scribes, saying, “Behold, I will send unto you wise men and scribes, and some of them they shall kill and crucify.” (cf. Mat_23:34) And Paul also, in the catalogue of “charismata” bestowed by God, placed first “the word of wisdom,” and second, as being inferior to it, “the word of knowledge,” but third, and lower down, “faith.” (cf. 1Co_12:8) And because he regarded “the word” as higher than miraculous powers, he for that reason places “workings of miracles” and “gifts of healings” in a lower place than the gifts of the word. And in the Acts of the Apostles Stephen bears witness to the great learning of Moses, which he had obtained wholly from ancient writings not accessible to the multitude. For he says: “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” (Act_7:22) And therefore, with respect to his miracles, it was suspected that he wrought them perhaps, not in virtue of his professing to come from God, but by means of his Egyptian knowledge, in which he was well versed. For the king, entertaining such a suspicion, summoned the Egyptian magicians, and wise men, and enchanters, who were found to be of no avail as against the wisdom of Moses, which proved superior to all the wisdom of the Egyptians.


Chap. XLVII.

But it is probable that what is written by Paul in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, (cf. 1Co_1:18, etc.) as being addressed to Greeks who prided themselves greatly on their Grecian wisdom, has moved some to believe that it was not the object of the Gospel to win wise men. Now, let him who is of this opinion understand that the Gospel, as censuring wicked men, says of them that they are wise not in things which relate to the understanding, and which are unseen and eternal; but that in busying themselves about things of sense alone, and regarding these as all-important, they are wise men of the world: for as there are in existence a multitude of opinions, some of them espousing the cause of matter and bodies,129 and asserting that everything is corporeal which has a substantial existence,130 and that besides these nothing else exists, whether it be called invisible or incorporeal, it says also that these constitute the wisdom of the world, which perishes and fades away, and belongs only to this age, while those opinions which raise the soul from things here to the blessedness which is with God, and to His kingdom, and which teach men to despise all sensible and visible things as existing only for a season, and to hasten on to things invisible, and to have regard to those things which are not seen, – these, it says, constitute the wisdom of God. But Paul, as a lover of truth, says of certain wise men among the Greeks, when their statements are true, that “although they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful.” (cf. Rom_1:21) And he bears witness that they knew God, and says, too, that this did not happen to them without divine permission, in these words: “For God showed it unto them;” (Rom_1:19) dimly alluding, I think, to those who ascend from things of sense to those of the understanding, when he adds, “For the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are Clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful.” (cf. Rom_1:20-22)



And perhaps also from the words, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the base things, and the things which are despised, hath God chosen, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh may glory in His presence; (cf. 1Co_1:26-28) some have been led to suppose that no one who is instructed, or wise, or prudent, embraces the Gospel. Now, in answer to such an one, we would say that it has not been stated that “no wise man according to the flesh,” but that “not many wise men according to the flesh,” are called. It is manifest, further, that amongst the characteristic qualifications of those who are termed “bishops,” Paul, in describing what kind of man the bishop ought to be, lays down as a qualification that he should also be a teacher, saying that he ought to be able to convince the gainsayers, that by the wisdom which is in him he may stop the mouths of foolish talkers and deceivers. (cf. Tit_1:9, Tit_1:10) And as he selects for the episcopate a man who has been once married131 rather than he who has twice entered the married state,132 and a man of blameless life rather than one who is liable to censure, and a sober man rather than one who is not such, and a prudent man rather than one who is not prudent, and a man whose behaviour is decorous rather than he who is open to the charge even of the slightest indecorum, so he desires that he who is to be chosen by preference for the office of a bishop should be apt to teach, and able to convince the gainsayers. How then can Celsus justly charge us with saying, “Let no one come to us who is ‘instructed,’ or ‘wise,’ or ‘prudent?’ “ Nay, let him who wills come to us “instructed,” and “wise,” and “prudent;” and none the less, if any one be ignorant and unintelligent, and uninstructed and foolish, let him also come: for it is these whom the Gospel promises to cure, when they come, by rendering them all worthy of God.


Chap. XLIX.

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.” (cf. 1Jo_2:2) 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 amongst 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.


Chap. L.

But let us see what those statements of his are which follow next in these words: “Nay, we see, indeed, that even those individuals, who in the market-places perform the most disgraceful tricks, and who gather crowds around them, would never approach an assembly of wise men, nor dare to exhibit their arts among them; but wherever they see young men, and a mob of slaves, and a gathering of unintelligent persons, thither they thrust themselves in, and show themselves off.” Observe, now, how he slanders us in these words, comparing us to those who in the market-places perform the most disreputable tricks, and gather crowds around them! What disreputable tricks, pray, do we perform? Or what is there in our conduct that resembles theirs, seeing that by means of readings, and explanations of the things read, we lead men to the worship of the God of the universe, and to the cognate virtues, and turn them away from contemning Deity, and from all things contrary to right reason? Philosophers verily would wish to collect together such hearers of their discourses as exhort men to virtue, – a practice which certain of the Cynics especially have followed, who converse publicly with those whom they happen to meet. Will they maintain, then, that these who do not gather together persons who are considered to have been educated, but who invite and assemble hearers from the public street, resemble those who in the market-places perform the most disreputable tricks, and gather crowds around them? Neither Celsus, however, nor any one who holds the same opinions, will blame those who, agreeably to what they regard as a feeling of philanthropy, address their arguments to the ignorant populace.


Chap. LI.

And if they are not to be blamed for so doing, let us see whether Christians do not exhort multitudes to the practice of virtue in a greater and better degree than they. For the philosophers who converse in public do not pick and choose their hearers, but he who likes stands and listens. The Christians, however, having previously, so far as possible, tested the souls of those who wish to become their hearers, and having previously instructed133 them in private, when they appear (before entering the community) to have sufficiently evinced their desire towards a virtuous life, introduce them then, and not before, privately forming one class of those who are beginners, and are receiving admission, but who have not yet obtained the mark of complete purification; and another of those who have manifested to the best of their ability their intention to desire no other things than are approved by Christians; and among these there are certain persons appointed to make inquiries regarding the lives and behaviour of those who join them, in order that they may prevent those who commit acts of infamy from coming into their public assembly, while those of a different character they receive with their whole heart, in order that they may daily make them better. And this is their method of procedure, both with those who are sinners, and especially with those who lead dissolute lives, whom they exclude from their community, although, according to Celsus, they resemble those who in the market-places perform the most shameful tricks. Now the venerable school of the Pythagoreans used to erect a cenotaph to those who had apostatized from their system of philosophy, treating them as dead; but the Christians lament as dead those who have been vanquished by licentiousness or any other sin, because they are lost and dead to God, and as being risen from the dead (if they manifest a becoming change) they receive them afterwards, at some future time, after a greater interval than in the case of those who were admitted at first, but not placing in any office or post of rank in the Church of God those who, after professing the Gospel, lapsed and fell.


Chap. LII.

Observe now with regard to the following statement of Celsus, “We see also those persons who in the market-places perform most disreputable tricks, and collect crowds around them,” whether a manifest falsehood has not been uttered, and things compared which have no resemblance. He says that these individuals, to whom he compares us, who “perform the most disreputable tricks in the market-places and collect crowds, would never approach an assembly of wise men, nor dare to show off their tricks before them; but wherever they see young men, and a mob of slaves, and a gathering of foolish people, thither do they thrust themselves in and make a display.” Now, in speaking thus he does nothing else than simply load us with abuse, like the women upon the public streets, whose object is to slander one another; for we do everything in our power to secure that our meetings should be composed of wise men, and those things among us which are especially excellent and divine we then venture to bring forward publicly in our discussions when we have an abundance of intelligent hearers, while we conceal and pass by in silence the truths of deeper import when we see that our audience is composed of simpler minds, which need such instruction as is figuratively termed “milk.”


Chap. LIII.

For the word is used by our Paul in writing to the Corinthians, who were Greeks, and not yet purified in their morals: “I have fed you with milk, not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able, for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” ([1Co_3:2, 1Co_3:3. S.]) Now the same writer,134 knowing that there was a certain kind of nourishment better adapted for the soul, and that the food of those young135 persons who were admitted was compared to milk, continues: “And ye are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb_5:12-14) Would then those who believe these words to be well spoken, suppose that the noble doctrines of our faith would never be mentioned in an assembly of wise men, but that wherever (our instructors) see young men, and a mob of slaves, and a collection of foolish individuals, they bring publicly forward divine and venerable truths, and before such persons make a display of themselves in treating of them? But it is clear to him who examines the whole spirit of our writings, that Celsus is animated with a hatred against the human race resembling that of the ignorant populace, and gives utterance to these falsehoods without examination.


Chap. LIV.

We acknowledge, however, although Celsus will not have it so, that we do desire to instruct all men in the word of God, so as to give to young men the exhortations which are appropriate to them, and to show to slaves how they may recover freedom of thought,136 and be ennobled by the word. And those amongst us who are the ambassadors of Christianity sufficiently declare that they are debtors (cf. Rom_1:14) to Greeks and Barbarians, to wise men and fools, (for they do not deny their obligation to cure the souls even of foolish persons,) in order that as far as possible they may lay aside their ignorance, and endeavour to obtain greater prudence, by listening also to the words of Solomon: “Oh, ye fools, be of an understanding heart,” (cf. Pro_8:5) and “Who is the most simple among you, let him turn unto me;” (cf. Pro_9:4) and wisdom exhorts those who are devoid of understanding in the words, “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mixed for you. Forsake folly that ye may live, and correct understanding in knowledge.” (cf. Pro_9:5, Pro_9:6) This too would I say (seeing it bears on the point),137 in answer to the statement of Celsus: Do not philosophers invite young men to their lectures? and do they not encourage young men to exchange a wicked life for a better? and do they not desire slaves to learn philosophy? Must we find fault, then, with philosophers who have exhorted slaves to the practice of virtue? with Pythagoras for having so done with Zamolxis, Zeno with Perseus, and with those who recently encouraged Epictetus to the study of philosophy? Is it indeed permissible for you, O Greeks, to call youths and slaves and foolish persons to the study of philosophy, but if we do so, we do not act from philanthropic motives in wishing to heal every rational nature with the medicine of reason, and to bring them into fellowship with God, the Creator of all things? These remarks, then, may suffice in answer to what are slanders rather than accusations138 on the part of Celsus.


Chap. LV.

But as Celsus delights to heap up calumnies against us, and, in addition to those which he has already uttered, has added others, let us examine these also, and see whether it be the Christians or Celsus who have reason to be ashamed of what is said. He asserts, “We see, indeed, in private houses workers in wool and leather, and fullers, and persons of the most uninstructed and rustic character, not venturing to utter a word in the presence of their elders and wiser masters;139 but when they get hold of the children privately, and certain women as ignorant as themselves, they pour forth wonderful statements, to the effect that they ought not to give heed to their father and to their teachers, but should obey them; that the former are foolish and stupid, and neither know nor can perform anything that is really good, being preoccupied with empty trifles; that they alone know how men ought to live, and that, if the children obey them, they will both be happy themselves, and will make their home happy also. And while thus speaking, if they see one of the instructors of youth approaching, or one of the more intelligent class, or even the father himself, the more timid among them become afraid, while the more forward incite the children to throw off the yoke, whispering that in the presence of father and teachers they neither will nor can explain to them any good thing, seeing they turn away with aversion from the silliness and stupidity of such persons as being altogether corrupt, and far advanced in wickedness, and such as would inflict punishment upon them; but that if they wish (to avail themselves of their aid,) they must leave their father and their instructors, and go with the women and their playfellows to the women’s apartments, or to the leather shop, or to the fuller’s shop, that they may attain to perfection; – and by words like these they gain them over.”


Chap. LVI.

Observe now how by such statements he depreciates those amongst us who are teachers of the word, and who strive in every way to raise the soul to the Creator of all things, and who show that we ought to despise things “sensible,” and “temporal,” and “visible,” and to do our utmost to reach communion with God, and the contemplation of things that are “intelligent,” and “invisible,” and a blessed life with God, and the friends of God; comparing them to “workers in wool in private houses, and to leather-cutters, and to fullers, and to the most rustic of mankind, who carefully incite young boys to wickedness, and women to forsake their fathers and teachers, and follow them.” Now let Celsus point out from what wise parent, or from what teachers, we keep away children and women, and let him ascertain by comparison among those children and women who are adherents of our doctrine, whether any of the opinions which they formerly heard are better than ours, and in what manner we draw away children and women from noble and venerable studies, and incite them to worse things. But he will not be able to make good any such charge against us, seeing that, on the contrary, we turn away women from a dissolute life, and from being at variance with those with whom they live, from all mad desires after theatres and dancing, and from superstition; while we train to habits of self-restraint boys just reaching the age of puberty, and feeling a desire for sexual pleasures, pointing out to them not only the disgrace which attends those sins, but also the state to which the soul of the wicked is reduced through practices of that kind, and the judgments which it will suffer, and the punishments which will be inflicted.


Chap. LVII.

But who are the teachers whom we call triflers and fools, whose defence is undertaken by Celsus, as of those who teach better things? (I know not,) unless he deem those to be good instructors of women, and no triflers, who invite them to superstition and to unchaste spectacles, and those, moreover, to be teachers not devoid of sense who lead and drag the young men to all those disorderly acts which we know are often committed by them. We indeed call away these also, as far as we can, from the dogmas of philosophy to our worship of God, by showing forth its excellence and purity. But as Celsus, by his statements, has declared that we do not do so, but that we call only the foolish, I would say to him, “If you had charged us with withdrawing from the study of philosophy those who were already preoccupied with it, you would not have spoken the truth, and yet your charge would have had an appearance of probability; but when you now say that we draw away our adherents from good teachers, show who are those other teachers save the teachers of philosophy, or those who have been appointed to give instruction in some useful branch of study.”140

He will be unable, however, to show any such.; while we promise, openly and not in secret, that they will be happy who live according to the word of God, and who look to Him in all things, and who do everything, whatever it is, as if in the presence of God. Are these the instructions of workers in wool, and of leather-cutters, and fullers, and uneducated rustics? But such an assertion he cannot make good.


Chap. LVIII.

But those who, in the opinion of Celsus, resemble the workers in wool in private houses, and the leather-cutters, and fullers, and uneducated rustics, will, he alleges, in the presence of father or teachers be unwilling to speak, or unable to explain to the boys anything that is good. In answer to which, we would say, What kind of father, my good sir, and what kind of teacher, do you mean? If you mean one who approves of virtue, and turns away from vice, and welcomes what is better, then know, that with the greatest boldness will we declare our opinions to the children, because we will be in good repute with such a judge. But if, in the presence of a father who has a hatred of virtue and goodness, we keep silence, and also before those who teach what is contrary to sound doctrine, do not blame us for so doing, since you will blame us without good reason. You, at all events, in a case where fathers deemed the mysteries of philosophy an idle and unprofitable occupation for their sons, and for young men in general, would not, in teaching philosophy, make known its secrets before worthless parents; but, desiring to keep apart those sons of wicked parents who had been turned towards the study of philosophy, you would observe the proper seasons, in order that the doctrines of philosophy might reach the minds of the young men. And we say the same regarding our teachers. For if we turn (our hearers) away from those instructors who teach obscene comedies and licentious iambics, and many other things which neither improve the speaker nor benefit the bearers (because the latter do not know how to listen to poetry in a philosophic frame of mind, nor the former how to say to each of the young men what tends to his profit), we are not, in following such a course, ashamed to confess what we do. But if you will show me teachers who train young men for philosophy, and who exercise them in it, I will not from such turn away young men, but will try to raise them, as those who have been previously exercised in the whole circle of learning and in philosophical subjects, to the venerable and lofty height of eloquence which lies hid from the multitude of Christians, where are discussed topics of the greatest importance, and where it is demonstrated and shown that they have been treated philosophically both by the prophets of God and the apostles of Jesus.





92 ὥστε ὀΐστῷ βέλει συμφέρεσθαι. Spencer and Bohereau would delete βέλει as a gloss.

93 Guietus would insert ἤ before ἵνα τὶ ὠφεληθῇ. this emendation is adopted in the translation.

94 την οἰκονομίαν.

95 τῶν ὠφελουμένων.

96 πίστεως.

97 ἤτοι διαβοαλοῦμεν τοῖς αὐτὴν μὴ παραδεξαμένοις, καὶ ἐγκαλέσομεν τῇ ἱστορίᾳ ὡς οὐκ ἀληθεὶ, ἤ δαιμόνιόν τι φησομεν παραπλήσιον τοῖς ἐπιδεικνυπένοις γόησιν ἀπατῆ ὀφθαλμῶν πεποιηκέναι καὶ περὶ τὸν Ἀστυπαλαιέα. Spencer in his edition inludes μὴ in brackets, and renders, “Aut eos incusabimus, qui istam virtutem admiserint.”

98 ἃς προσάγόμεν αὐτῷ, ὡς διὰ μεταξὴ ὄντος τῆς τοῦ ἀγενήτου και τῆς τοῶν γενητῶν πἄντων φύσεως. “Hoeschel (itemque Spencerus ad marg.) suspicabatur legendum: ὡς δὴ μεταξὺ ὄντος. Male. Nihil mutari necesse est. Agitur quippe de precibus, quas offerimus Deo ‘per eum qui veluti medius est inter increatam naturam et creatam.’” – Ruaeus.

99 ἀδολεσχῆσαι.

100 τὰς τουτων ἀποδοχάς.

101 ὡς κἄν τὸ τυχὸν ἀκολασίας κἂν ἐπ ὀλίγον γευσαμένου;.

102 οὗ ἀρετὰς οἱ μέν τινες κυβευτικώτερον ζῶντες καταψεύδονται.

103 ἀκολούθως τῇ ἐν τῷ λέγειν τεραστὶως πιστικῇ δυνάμει.

104 ὡς κατὰ νόμους αὐτῶν ἄρχοντος.

105 ἀποφοράς.

106 προαιρέσεως.

107 ἐσωτερικῶν καὶ ἐποπτικῶν.

108 ἢ ἥρωας ἐκ μεταβολῆς συστάντας ἀγαθῆς ἀνθρωπίνης ψυχῆς.

109 [See vol. 2. p. 185, and the stinging reference of Justin, vol. 1. p. 172, this series.]

110 περὶ δὲ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἤτοι δόξασα ἂν εἶναι εὐτυχὴς, ἢ καὶ βεβασανισμένως ἐξητασμένη, δοκοῦσα μὲν εὐ τυχὴς παρὰ τοῖς πολλοῖς, βεβασανισμένως δὲ ἐξητασμένη παρὰ πάνυ ολιγωτάτοις.

111 τοσοῦτον ποιεῖ πίστις, ὁποία δὴ προκατασχοῦσα.

112 κυβευτικόν.

113 ἡ κοινὴ ἔννοια.

114 φίλτρον φυσικόν.

115 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἑνώσει καὶ ἀνακράσει.

116 [“By means of Origen the idea of a proper reasonable soul in Christ received a new dogmatical importance. This point, which up to this time had been altogether untouched with controversy with the Patripassians, was now for the first time expressly brought forward in a synod held against Beryllus of Bostra, a.d. 244, and the doctrine of a reasonable human soul in Christ settled as a doctrine of the Church.” – Neander’s History (ut supra), vol. ii. p. 309, with the references there. See also Waterland’s Works, vol. i. pp. 330, 331. S.]

117 διαλεκτικός.

118 τὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ τάφου.

119 οὐκ εἰδότες πῶς καὶ καθό.

120 cf. Callimach., Hymn, i. cf. also Tit_1:12.

121 τὴν ἀρχήν τοῦ ωανάτου γεγονέναι περὶ τὸν Δία.

122 [The sarcastic raillery of Celsus in regard to the ignorance and low social scale of the early converts to Christianity is in keeping with his whole tone and manner. On the special value of the evidence of early Christian writers, such as Justin Martyr, Clement, Origen, etc., to the truth and power, among men of all classes, of the Gospel of our Lord, see Rawlinson’s Bampton Lectures, The Historical Evidences of the Truth of the Scripture Records, Lect. viii. pp. 207, 420, et seqq. (Amer. ed. 1860). S.]

123 ὁ λόγος.

124 τἁ ἄδηλα καὶ κρύφια τῆς σοφίας σου ἑδήλωσάς μοι.

125 τὰ κατ αὐτόν.

126 καὶ ἐξ αὑτῆς ἐγένετο.

127 cf. 1Ki_4:29-34. The text reads, περὶ πάντων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς, for which παρά has been substituted.

128 καὶ ἄλλα διὰ προβλημάτων.

129 τὰ μὲν συναγορεύοντα ὑγῇ καὶ σώμασι.

130 τὰ προηγουμένως ὑφεστηκότα.

131 Μονόγαμον. cf. Can. Apost., c. xvii.: “ἱ δυσὶ γάμοις συμπλακεὶς μετὰ τὸ βάπτισμα, ἢ παλλακὴν κτησάμενος, οὐ δύναται εἶναι ἐπίσκοπος, ἢ πρεσβύτερος, ῆ διάκονος, ῆ ὅλως τοῦ καταλόγου τοῦ ἱερατικοῦ.” cf. note in Benedictine ed.

132 [Origen agrees with Tertullian, passim, on this subject. Hippolytus makes Callistus, Bishop of Rome, the first to depart from this principle, – accepting “digamists and trigamists.”]

133 προεπᾴσαντες.

134 [See note 2 supra, p. 239. S.]

135 νηπίων.

136 ἐλεύθερον ἀναλαβόντες φρόνημα.

137 διὰ τὰ ἐγκείμενα.

138 λοιδορίας μᾶλλον ἢ κατηγορίας.

139 The allusion is to the practice of wealthy Greeks and Romans having among their slaves artificers of various kinds, for whose service there was constant demand in the houses and villas of the rich, and who therefore had their residence in or near the dwelling of their master. Many of these artificers seem, from the language of Celsus, to have been converts to Christianity.

140 Παράστησον τοὺς διδασκάλους ἄλλους παρὰ τοὺς φιλοσοφίας διδασκάλους, ἢ τοὺς κατὰ τι τῶν χρησίμων πεποιημένους.