Book II. (C0nt.)
But since it is a Jew who makes these assertions in the treatise of Celsus, we would say to him: Pray, friend, why do you believe the works which are recorded in your writings as having been performed by God through the instrumentality of Moses to be really divine, and endeavour to refute those who slanderously assert that they were wrought by sorcery, like those of the Egyptian magicians; while, in imitation of your Egyptian opponents, you charge those which were done by Jesus, and which, you admit, were actually performed, with not being divine? For if the final result, and the founding of an entire nation by the miracles of Moses, manifestly demonstrate that it was God who brought these things to pass in the time of Moses the Hebrew lawgiver, why should not such rather be shown to be the case with Jesus, who accomplished far greater works than those of Moses? For the former took those of his own nation, the descendants of Abraham, who had observed the rite of circumcision transmitted by tradition, and who were careful observers of the Abrahamic usages, and led them out of Egypt, enacting for them those laws which you believe to be divine; whereas the latter ventured upon a greater undertaking, and superinduced upon the pre-existing constitution, and upon ancestral customs and modes of life agreeable to the existing laws, a constitution in conformity with the Gospel. And as it was necessary, in order that Moses should find credit not only among the elders, but the common people, that there should be performed those miracles which he is recorded to have performed, why should not Jesus also, in order that He may be believed on by those of the people who had learned to ask for signs and wonders, need66 to work such miracles as, on account of their greater grandeur and divinity (in comparison with those of Moses), were able to convert men from Jewish fables, and from the human traditions which prevailed among them, and make them admit that He who taught and did such things was greater than the: prophets? For how was not He greater than the prophets, who was proclaimed by them to be the Christ, and the Saviour of the human race?
All the arguments, indeed, which this Jew of Celsus advances against those who believe on Jesus, may, by parity of reasoning, be urged as ground of accusation against Moses: so that there is no difference in asserting that the sorcery practised by Jesus and that by Moses were similar to each other,67 – both of them, so far as the language of this Jew of Celsus is concerned, being liable to the same charge; as, e.g., when this Jew says of Christ, “But, O light and truth! Jesus with his own voice expressly declares, as you yourselves have recorded, that there will appear among you others also, who will perform miracles like mine, but who are wicked men and sorcerers,” some one, either Greek or Egyptian, or any other party who disbelieved the Jew, might say respecting Moses, “But, O light and truth! Moses with his own voice expressly declares, as ye also have recorded, that there will appear among you others also, who will perform miracles like mine, but who are wicked men and sorcerers. For it is written in your law, ‘If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shall not hearken to the words of that prophet, or dreamer of dreams,” (Deu_13:1-3) etc. Again, perverting the words of Jesus, he says, “And he terms him who devises such things, one Satan;” while one, applying this to Moses, might say, “And he terms him who devises such things, a prophet who dreams.” And as this Jew asserts regarding Jesus, that “even he himself does not deny that these works have in them nothing of divinity, but are the acts of wicked men;” so any one who disbelieves the writings of Moses might say, quoting what has been already said, the same thing, viz., that, “even Moses does not deny that these works have in them nothing of divinity, but are the acts of wicked men.” And he will do the same thing also with respect to this: “Being compelled by the force of truth, Moses at the same time both exposed the doings of others, and convicted himself of the same.” And when the Jew says, “Is it not a wretched inference from the same acts, to conclude that the one is a God, and the others sorcerers?” one might object to him, on the ground of those words of Moses already quoted, “Is it not then a wretched inference from the same acts, to conclude that the one is a prophet and servant of God, and the others sorcerers?” But when, in addition to those comparisons which I have already mentioned, Celsus, dwelling upon the subject, adduces this also: “Why from these works should the others be accounted wicked, rather than this man, seeing they have him as a witness against himself?” – we, too, shall adduce the following, in addition to what has been already said: “Why, from those passages in which Moses forbids us to believe those who exhibit signs and wonders, ought we to consider such persons as wicked, rather than Moses, because he calumniates some of them in respect of their signs and wonders?” And urging more to the same effect, that he may appear to strengthen his attempt, he says: “He himself acknowledged that these were not the works of a divine nature, but were the inventions of certain deceivers, and of very wicked men.” Who, then, is “himself?” You O Jew, say that it is Jesus; but he who accuses you as liable to the same charges, will transfer this “himself” to the person of Moses.
After this, forsooth, the Jew of Celsus, to keep up the character assigned to the Jew from the beginning, in his address to those of his countrymen who had become believers, says: “By what, then, were you induced (to become his followers)? Was it because he foretold that after his death he would rise again?” Now this question, like the others, can be retorted upon Moses. For we might say to the Jew “By what, then, were you induced (to become the follower of Moses)? Was it because he put on record the following statement about his own death: ‘And Moses, the servant of the Lord died there, in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Loud; and they buried him in Moab, near the house of Phogor: and no one knoweth his sepulchre until this day?’” (cf. Deu_34:5, Deu_34:6) For as the Jew casts discredit upon the statement, that “Jesus foretold that after His death He would rise again,” another person might make a similar assertion about Moses, and would say in reply, that Moses also put on record (for the book of Deuteronomy is his composition) the statement, that “no one knoweth his sepulchre until this day,” in order to magnify and enhance the importance of his place of burial, as being unknown to mankind.
The Jew continues his address to those of his countrymen who are converts, as follows: “Come now, let us grant to you that the prediction was actually uttered. Yet how many others are there who practise such juggling tricks, in order to deceive their simple hearers, and who make gain by their deception? – as was the case, they say, with Zamolxis68 in Scythia, the slave of Pythagoras; and with Pythagoras himself in Italy; and with Rhampsinitus69 in Egypt (the latter of whom, they say, played at dice with Demeter in Hades, and returned to the upper world with a golden napkin which he had received from her as a gift); and also with Orpheus70 among the Odrysians, and Protesilaus in Thessaly, and Hercules71 at Cape Taenarus, and Theseus. But the question is, whether any one who was really dead ever rose with a veritable body.72 Or do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance of such, while you have discovered a becoming and credible termination to your drama in the voice from the cross, when he breathed his last, and in the earthquake and the darkness? That while alive he was of no assistance to himself, but that when dead he rose again, and showed the marks of his punishment, and how his hands were pierced with nails: who beheld this? A half-frantic73 woman, as you state, and some other one, perhaps, of those who were engaged in the same system of delusion, who had either dreamed so, owing to a peculiar state of mind,74 or under the influence of a wandering imagination had formed to himself an appearance according to his own wishes,75 which has been the case with numberless individuals; or, which is most probable, one who desired to impress others with this portent, and by such a falsehood to furnish an occasion to impostors like himself.”
Now, since it is a Jew who makes these statements, we shall conduct the defence of our Jesus as if we were replying to a Jew, still continuing the comparison derived from the accounts regarding Moses, and saying to him: “How many others are there who practise similar juggling tricks to those of Moses, in order to deceive their silly hearers, and who make gain by their deception?” Now this objection would be more appropriate in the mouth of one who did not believe in Moses (as we might quote the instances of Zamolxis and Pythagoras, who were engaged in such juggling tricks) than in that of a Jew, who is not very learned in the histories of the Greeks. An Egyptian, moreover, who did not believe the miracles of Moses, might credibly adduce the instance of Rhampsinitus, saying that it was far more credible that he had descended to Hades, and had played at dice with Demeter, and that after stealing from her a golden napkin he exhibited it as a sign of his having been in Hades, and of his having returned thence, than that Moses should have recorded that he entered into the darkness, where God was, and that he alone, above all others, drew near to God. For the following is his statement: “Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the rest shall not come nigh.” (cf. Exo_24:2) We, then, who are the disciples of Jesus, say to the Jew who urges these objections: “While assailing our belief in Jesus, defend yourself, and answer the Egyptian and the Greek objectors: what will you say to those charges which you brought against our Jesus, but which also might be brought against Moses first? And if you should make a vigorous effort to defend Moses, as indeed his history does admit of a clear and powerful defence, you will unconsciously, in your support of Moses, be an unwilling assistant in establishing the greater divinity of Jesus.”
But since the Jew says that these histories of the alleged descent of heroes to Hades, and of their return thence, are juggling impositions,76 maintaining that these heroes disappeared for a certain time, and secretly withdrew themselves from the sight of all men, and gave themselves out afterwards as having returned from Hades, – for such is the meaning which his words seem to convey respecting the Odrysian Orpheus, and the Thessalian Protesilaus, and the Taenarian Hercules, and Theseus also, – let us endeavour to show that the account of Jesus being raised from the dead cannot possibly be compared to these. For each one of the heroes respectively mentioned might, had he wished, have secretly withdrawn himself from the sight of men, and returned again, if so determined, to those whom he had left; but seeing that Jesus was crucified before all the Jews, and His body slain in the presence of His nation, how can they bring themselves to say that He practised a similar deception77 with those heroes who are related to have gone down to Hades, and to have returned thence? But we say that the following consideration might be adduced, perhaps, as a defence of the public crucifixion of Jesus, especially in connection with the existence of those stories of heroes who are supposed to have been compelled78 to descend to Hades: that if we were to suppose Jesus to have died an obscure death, so that the fact of His decease was not patent to the whole nation of the Jews, and afterwards to have actually risen from the dead, there would, in such a case, have been ground for the same suspicion entertained regarding the heroes being also entertained regarding Himself. Probably, then, in addition to other causes for the crucifixion of Jesus, this also may have contributed to His dying a conspicuous death upon the cross, that no one might have it in his power to say that He voluntarily withdrew from the sight of men, and seemed only to die, without really doing so; but, appearing again, made a juggler’s trick79 of the resurrection from the dead. But a clear and unmistakeable proof of the fact I hold to be the undertaking of His disciples, who devoted themselves to the teaching of a doctrine which was attended with danger to human life, – a doctrine which they would not have taught with such courage had they invented the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; and who also, at the same time, not only prepared others to despise death, but were themselves the first to manifest their disregard for its terrors.
But observe whether this Jew of Celsus does not talk very blindly, in saying that it is impossible for any one to rise from the dead with a veritable body, his language being: “But this is the question, whether any one who was really dead ever rose again with a veritable body?” Now a Jew would not have uttered these words, who believed what is recorded in the third and fourth books of Kings regarding little children, of whom the one was raised up by Elijah,80 and the other by Elisha.81 And on this account, too, I think it was that Jesus appeared to no other nation than the Jews, who had become accustomed to miraculous occurrences; so that, by comparing what they themselves believed with the works which were done by Him, and with what was related of Him, they might confess that He, in regard to whom greater things were done, and by whom mightier marvels were performed, was greater than all those who preceded Him.
Further, after these Greek stories which the Jew adduced respecting those who were guilty of juggling practices,82 and who pretended to have risen from the dead, he says to those Jews who are converts to Christianity: “Do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance of such, while you have discovered a becoming and credible termination to your drama in the voice from the cross, when he breathed his last?” We reply to the Jew: “What you adduce as myths, we regard also as such; but the statements of the Scriptures which are common to us both, in which not you only, but we also, take pride, we do not at all regard as myths. And therefore we accord our belief to those who have therein related that some rose from the dead, as not being guilty of imposition; and to Him especially there mentioned as having risen, who both predicted the event Himself, and was the subject of prediction by others. And His resurrection is more miraculous than that of the others in this respect, that they were raised by the prophets Elijah and Elisha, while He was raised by none of the prophets, but by His Father in heaven. And therefore His resurrection also produced greater results than theirs. For what great good has accrued to the world from the resurrection of the children through the instrumentality of Elijah and Elisha, such as has re-suited from the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus, accepted as an article of belief, and as effected through the agency of divine power?”
He imagines also that both the earthquake and the darkness were an invention;83 but regarding these, we have in the preceding pages, made our defence, according to our ability, adducing the testimony of Phlegon, who relates that these events took place at the time when our Saviour suffered.84 And he goes on to say, that “Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death, and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails.” We ask him what he means by the expression, “was of no assistance to himself?” For if he means it to refer to want of virtue, we reply that He was of very great assistance. For He neither uttered nor committed anything that was improper, but was truly “led as a sheep to the slaughter, and was dumb as a lamb before the shearer;” (Isa_53:7) and the Gospel testifies that He opened not His mouth. But if Celsus applies the expression to things indifferent and corporeal,85 (meaning that in such Jesus could render no help to Himself,) we say that we have proved from the Gospels that He went voluntarily to encounter His sufferings. Speaking next of the statements in the Gospels, that after His resurrection He showed the marks of His punishment, and how His hands had been pierced, he asks, “Who beheld this?” And discrediting the narrative of Mary Magdalene, who is related to have seen Him, he replies, “A half-frantic woman, as ye state.” And because she is not the only one who is recorded to have seen the Saviour after His resurrection, but others also are mentioned, this Jew of Celsus calumniates these statements also in adding, “And some one else of those engaged in the same system of deception!”
In the next place, as if this were possible, viz., that the image of a man who was dead could appear to another as if he were still living, he adopts this opinion as an Epicurean, and says, “That some one having so dreamed owing to a peculiar state of mind, or having, under the influence of a perverted imagination, formed such an appearance as he himself desired, reported that such had been seen; and this,” he continues, “has been the case with numberless individuals.” But even if this statement of his seems to have a considerable degree of force, it is nevertheless only fitted to confirm a necessary doctrine, that the soul of the dead exists in a separate state (from the body); and he who adopts such an opinion does not believe without good reason in the immortality, or at least continued existence, of the soul, as even Plato says in his treatise on the Soul that shadowy phantoms of persons already dead have appeared to some around their sepulchres. Now the phantoms which exist about the soul of the dead are produced by some substance, and this substance is in the soul, which exists apart in a body said to be of splendid appearance.86 But Celsus, unwilling to admit any such view, will have it that some dreamed a waking dream,87 and, under the influence of a perverted imagination, formed to themselves such an image as they desired. Now it is not irrational to believe that a dream may take place while one is asleep; but to suppose a waking vision in the case of those who are not altogether out of their senses, and under the influence of delirium or hypochondria, is incredible. And Celsus, seeing this, called the woman “half-mad,” – a statement which is not made by the history recording the fact, but from which he took occasion to charge the occurrences with being untrue.
Jesus accordingly, as Celsus imagines, exhibited after His death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in reality so wounded as He is described to have been; whereas, according to the teaching of the Gospel – some portions of which Celsus arbitrarily accepts, in order to find ground of accusation, and other parts of which he rejects – Jesus called to Him one of His disciples who was sceptical, and who deemed the miracle an impossibility. That individual had, indeed, expressed his belief in the statement of the woman who said that she had seen Him, because he did not think it impossible that the soul of a dead man could be seen; but he did not yet consider the report to be true that He had been raised in a body, which was the antitype of the former.88 And therefore he did not merely say, “Unless I see, I will not believe;” but he added, “Unless I put my hand into the print of the nails, and lay my hands upon His side, I will not believe.” These words were spoken by Thomas, who deemed it possible that the body of the soul89 might be seen by the eye of sense, resembling in all respects its former appearance,
“Both in size, and in beauty of eyes, And in voice;”
and frequently, too,
“Having, also, such garments around the person90 (as when alive).”
Jesus accordingly, having called Thomas, said, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (cf. Joh_20:27)
Now it followed from all the predictions which were uttered regarding Him – amongst which was this prediction of the resurrection – and, from all that was done by Him, and from all the events which befell Him, that this event should be marvellous above all others. For it had been said beforehand by the prophet in the person of Jesus: “My flesh shall rest in hope, and Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, and wilt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Psa_16:9, Psa_16:10) And truly, after His resurrection, He existed in a body intermediate, as it were, between the grossness of that which He had before His sufferings, and the appearance of a soul uncovered by such a body. And hence it was, that when His disciples were together, and Thomas with them, there “came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger,” (Joh_20:26, Joh_20:27) etc. And in the Gospel of Luke also, while Simon and Cleopas were conversing with each other respecting all that had happened to them, Jesus “drew near, and went with them. And their eyes were holden, that they should not know Him. And He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk?” And when their eyes were opened, and they knew Him, then the Scripture says, in express words, “And He vanished out of their sight.” (Luk_24:15, Luk_24:31) And although Celsus may wish to place what is told of Jesus, and of those who saw Him after His resurrection, on the same level with imaginary appearances of a different kind, and those who have invented such, yet to those who institute a candid and intelligent examination, the events will appear only the more miraculous.
After these points, Celsus proceeds to bring against the Gospel narrative a charge which is not to be lightly passed over, saying that “if Jesus desired to show that his power was really divine, he ought to have appeared to those who had ill-treated him, and to him who had condemned him, and to all men universally.” For it appears to us also to be true, according to the Gospel account, that He was not seen after His resurrection in the same manner as He used formerly to show Himself – publicly, and to all men. But it is recorded in the Acts, that “being seen during forty days,” He expounded to His disciples “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Act_1:3) And in the Gospels (cf. Joh_20:26) it is not stated that He was always with them; but that on one occasion He appeared in their midst, after eight days, when the doors were shut, and on another in some similar fashion. And Paul also, in the concluding portions of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, in reference to His not having publicly appeared as He did in the period before He suffered, writes as follows: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unto the present time, but some are fallen asleep. After that He was seen of James, then of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (1Co_15:3-8) I am of opinion now that the statements in this passage contain some great and wonderful mysteries, which are beyond the grasp not merely of the great multitude of ordinary believers, but even of those who are far advanced (in Christian knowledge), and that in them the reason would be explained why He did not show Himself, after His resurrection from the dead, in the same manner as before that event. And in a treatise of this nature, composed in answer to a work directed against the Christians and their faith, observe whether we are able to adduce a few rational arguments out of a greater number, and thus make an impression upon the hearers of this apology.
Although Jesus was only a single individual, He was nevertheless more things than one, according to the different standpoint from which He might be regarded;91 nor was He seen in the same way by all who beheld Him. Now, that He was more things than one, according to the varying point of view, is clear from this statement, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;” and from this, “I am the bread;” and this, “I am the door,” and innumerable others. And that when seen He did not appear in like fashion to all those who saw Him, but according to their several ability to receive Him, will be clear to those who notice why, at the time when He was about to be transfigured on the high mountain, He did not admit all His apostles (to this sight), but only Peter, and James, and John, because they alone were capable of beholding His glory on that occasion, and of observing the glorified appearance of Moses and Elijah, and of listening to their conversation, and to the voice from the heavenly cloud. I am of opinion, too, that before He ascended the mountain where His disciples came to Him alone, and where He taught them the beatitudes, when He was somewhere in the lower part of the mountain, and when, as it became late, He healed those who were brought to Him, freeing them from all sickness and disease, He did not appear the same person to the sick, and to those who needed His healing aid, as to those who were able by reason of their strength to go up the mountain along with Him. Nay, even when He interpreted privately to His own disciples the parables which were delivered to the multitudes without, from whom the explanation was withheld, as they who heard them explained were endowed with higher organs of hearing than they who heard them without explanation, so was it altogether the same with the eyes of their soul, and, I think, also with those of their body.92 And the following statement shows that He had not always the same appearance, viz., that Judas, when about to betray Him, said to the multitudes who were setting out with him, as not being acquainted with Him, “Whomsoever I shall kiss, the same is He.” (Mat_26:48) And I think that the Saviour Himself indicates the same thing by the words: “I was daily with you, teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on Me.” (Mat_26:55) Entertaining, then, such exalted views regarding Jesus, not only with respect to the Deity within, and which was hidden from the view of the multitude, but with respect to the transfiguration of His body, which took place when and to whom He would, we say, that before Jesus had “put off the governments and powers,”93 and while as yet He was not dead unto sin, all men were capable of seeing Him; but that, when He had “put off the governments and powers,” and had no longer anything which was capable of being seen by the multitude, all who had formerly seen Him were not now able to behold Him. And therefore, sparing them, He did not show Himself to all after His resurrection from the dead.
And why do I say “to all?” For even with His own apostles and disciples He was not perpetually present, nor did He constantly show Himself to them, because they were not able without intermission94 to receive His divinity. For His deity was more resplendent after he had finished the economy95 (of salvation): and this Peter, surnamed Cephas, the first-fruits as it were of the apostles, was enabled to behold, and along with him the twelve (Matthias having been substituted in room of Judas); and after them He appeared to the five hundred brethren at once, and then to James, and subsequently to all the others besides the twelve apostles, perhaps to the seventy also, and lastly to Paul, as to one born out of due time, and who knew well how to say, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given;” and probably the expression “least of all” has the same meaning with “one born out of due time.” For as no one could reasonably blame Jesus for not having admitted all His apostles to the high mountain, but only the three already mentioned, on the occasion of His transfiguration, when He was about to manifest the splendour which appeared in His garments, and the glory of Moses and Elias talking with Him, so none could reasonably object to the statements of the apostles, who introduce the appearance of Jesus after His resurrection as having been made not to all, but to those only whom He knew to have received eyes capable of seeing His resurrection. I think, moreover, that the following statement regarding Him has an apologetic value96 in reference to our subject, viz.: “For to this end Christ died, and rose again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.” (cf. Rom_14:9) For observe, it is conveyed in these words, that Jesus died that He might be Lord of the dead; and that He rose again to be Lord not only of the dead, but also of the living. And the apostle understands, undoubtedly, by the dead over whom Christ is to be Lord, those who are so called in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, “For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible; “ (1Co_15:52) and by the living, those who are to be changed, and who are different from the dead who are to be raised. And respecting the living the words are these, “And we shall be changed;” an expression which follows immediately after the statement, “The dead shall be raised first.” (cf. 1Co_15:52 with 1Th_4:16) Moreover, in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, describing the same change in different words, he says, that they who sleep are not the same as those who are alive; his language being, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep.” (cf. 1Th_4:16) The explanation which appeared to us to be appropriate to this passage, we gave in the exegetical remarks which we have made on the first Epistle to the Thessalonians.
And be not surprised if all the multitudes who have believed on Jesus do not behold His resurrection, when Paul, writing to the Corinthians, can say to them, as being incapable of receiving greater matters, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified;” (1Co_2:2) which is the same as saying, “Hitherto ye were not able, neither yet now are ye able, for ye are still carnal.” (cf. 1Co_3:2, 1Co_3:3) The Scripture, therefore, doing everything by appointment of God, has recorded of Jesus, that before His sufferings He appeared to all indifferently, but not always; while after His sufferings He no longer appeared to all in the same way, but with a certain discrimination which measured out to each his due. And as it is related that “God appeared to Abraham,” or to one of the saints, and this “appearance” was not a thing of constant occurrence, but took place at intervals, and not to all, so understand that the Son of God appeared in the one case on the same principle that God appeared to the latter.97
To the best of our ability, therefore, as in a treatise of this nature, we have answered the objection, that “if Jesus had really wished to manifest his divine power, he ought to have shown himself to those who ill-treated him, and to the judge who condemned him, and to all without reservation.” There was, however, no obligation on Him to appear either to the judge who condemned Him, or to those who ill-treated Him. For Jesus spared both the one and the other, that they might not be smitten with blindness, as the men of Sodom were when they conspired against the beauty of the angels entertained by Lot. And here is the account of the matter: “But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men who were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great; so that they wearied themselves to find the door.”98 Jesus, accordingly, wished to show that His power was divine to each one who was capable of seeing it, and according to the measure of His capability. And I do not suppose that He guarded against being seen on any other ground than from a regard to the fitness of those who were incapable of seeing Him. And it is in vain for Celsus to add, “For he had no longer occasion to fear any man after his death, being, as you say, a God; nor was he sent into the world at all for the purpose of being hid.” Yet He was sent into the world not only to become known, but also to be hid. For all that He was, was not known even to those to whom He was known, but a certain part of Him remained concealed even from them; and to some He was not known at all. And He opened the gates of light to those who were the sons of darkness and of night, and had devoted themselves to becoming the sons of light and of the day. For our Saviour Lord, like a good physician, came rather to us who were full of sins, than to those who were righteous.
But let us observe how this Jew of Celsus asserts that, “if this at least would have helped to manifest his divinity, he ought accordingly to have at once disappeared from the cross.” Now this seems to me to be like the argument of those who oppose the doctrine of providence, and who arrange things differently from what they are, and allege that the world would be better if it were as they arrange it. Now, in those instances in which their arrangement is a possible one, they are proved to make the world, so far as depends upon them, worse by their arrangement than it actually is; while in those cases in which they do not portray things worse than they really are, they are shown to desire impossibilities; so that in either case they are deserving of ridicule. And here, accordingly, that them was no impossibility in His coming, as a being of diviner nature, in order to disappear when He chose, is clear from the very nature of the case; and is certain, moreover, from what is recorded of Him, in the judgment of those who do not adopt certain portions merely of the narrative that they may have ground for accusing Christianity, and who consider other portions to be fiction. For it is related in St. Luke’s Gospel, that Jesus after His resurrection took bread, and blessed it, and breaking it, distributed it to Simon and Cleopas; and when they had received the bread, “their eyes were opened, and they knew Him, and He vanished out of their sight,” (cf. Luk_24:30, Luk_24:31)
But we wish to show that His instantaneous bodily disappearance from the cross was not better fitted to serve the purposes of the whole economy of salvation (than His remaining upon it was). For the mere letter and narrative of the events which happened to Jesus do not present the whole view of the truth. For each one of them can be shown, to those who have an intelligent apprehension of Scripture, to be a symbol of something else. Accordingly, as His crucifixion contains a truth, represented in the words, “I am crucified with Christ,” and intimated also in these, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world; “ (cf. Gal_6:14) and as His death was necessary, because of the statement, “For in that He died, He died unto sin once,” (Rom_6:10) and this, “Being made conformable to His death,’ (Phi_3:10) and this, “For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him:” (2Ti_2:11) so also His burial has an application to those who have been made conformable to His death, who have been both crucified with Him, and have died with Him; as is declared by Paul, “For we were buried with Him by baptism, and have also risen with Him.” (cf. Rom_6:4) These matters, however, which relate to His burial, and His sepulchre, and him who buried Him, we shall expound at greater length on a more suitable occasion, when it will be our professed purpose to treat of such things. But, for the present, it is sufficient to notice the clean linen in which the pure body of Jesus was to be enwrapped, and the new tomb which Joseph had hewn out of the rock, where “no one was yet lying,”99 or, as John expresses it, “wherein was never man yet laid.”100 And observe whether the harmony of the three evangelists here is not fitted to make an impression: for they have thought it right to describe the tomb as one that was “quarried or hewn out of the rock;” so that be who examines the words of the narrative may see something worthy of consideration, both in them and in the newness of the tomb, – a point mentioned by Matthew and John (cf. Mat_27:60 with Joh_19:41) – and in the statement of Luke and John, (cf. Luk_23:53 with Joh_19:41) that no one had ever been interred therein before. For it became Him, who was unlike other dead men (but who even in death manifested signs of life in the water and the blood), and who was, so to speak, a new dead man, to be laid in a new and clean tomb, in order that, as His birth was purer than any other (in consequence of His being born, not in the way of ordinary generation, but of a virgin), His burial also might have the purity symbolically indicated in His body being deposited in a sepulchre which was new, not built of stones gathered from various quarters, and having no natural unity, but quarried and hewed out of one rock, united together in all its parts. Regarding the explanation, however, of these points, and the method of ascending from the narratives themselves to the things which they symbolized, one might treat more profoundly, and in a manner more adapted to their divine character, on a more suitable occasion, in a work expressly devoted to such subjects. The literal narrative, however, one might thus explain, viz., that it was appropriate for Him who had resolved to endure suspension upon the cross, to maintain all the accompaniments of the character He had assumed, in order that He who as a man had been put to death, and who as a man had died, might also as a man be buried. But even if it had been related in the Gospels, according to the view of Celsus, that Jesus had immediately disappeared from the cross, he and other unbelievers would have found fault with the narrative, and would have brought against it some such objection as this: “Why, pray, did he disappear after he had been put upon the cross, and not disappear before he suffered?” If, then, after learning from the Gospels that He did not at once disappear from the cross, they imagine that they can find fault with the narrative, because it did not invent, as they consider it ought to have done, any such instantaneous disappearance, but gave a true account of the matter, is it not reasonable that they should accord their faith also to His resurrection, and should believe that He, according to His pleasure, on one occasion, when the doors were shut, stood in the midst of His disciples, and on another, after distributing bread to two of His acquaintances, immediately disappeared from view, after He had spoken to them certain words?
But how is it that this Jew of Celsus could say that Jesus concealed Himself? For his words regarding Him are these: “And who that is sent as a messenger ever conceals himself when he ought to make known his message?” Now, He did not conceal Himself, who said to those who sought to apprehend Him, “I was daily teaching openly in the temple, and ye laid no hold upon Me.” Bat having once already answered this charge of Celsus, now again repeated, we shall content ourselves with what we have formerly said. We have answered, also, in the preceding pages, this objection, that “while he was in the body, and no one believed upon him, he preached to ail without intermission; but when he might have produced a powerful belief in himself after rising from the dead, he showed himself secretly only to one woman, and to his own boon companions.”101 Now it is not true that He showed Himself only to one woman; for it is stated in the Gospel according to Matthew, that “in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there had been a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord had descended from heaven, and come and rolled back the stone.” (Mat_28:1, Mat_28:2) And, shortly after, Matthew adds: “And, behold, Jesus met them” – clearly meaning the afore-mentioned Marys – “saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him.” (Mat_28:9) And we answered, too, the charge, that “while undergoing his punishment he was seen by all, but after his resurrection only by one,” when we offered our defence of the fact that “He was not seen by all.” And now we might say that His merely human attributes were visible to all men but those which were divine in their nature – I speak of the attributes not as related, but as distinct102 – were not capable of being received by all But observe here the manifest contradiction into which Celsus falls. For having said, a little before, that Jesus had appeared secretly to one woman and His own boon companions, he immediately subjoins: “While undergoing his punishment he was seen by all men, but after his resurrection by one, whereas the opposite ought to have happened.” And let us hear what he means by “ought to have happened.” The being seen by all men while undergoing His punishment, but after His resurrection only by one individual, are opposites.103 Now, so far as his language conveys a meaning, he would have that to take place which is both impossible and absurd, viz., that while undergoing His punishment He should be seen only by one individual, but after His resurrection by all men! or else how will you explain his words, “The opposite ought to have happened?”
Jesus taught us who it was that sent Him, in the words, “None knoweth the Father but the Son;” (cf. Luk_10:22) and in these, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” (Joh_1:18) He, treating of Deity, stated to His true disciples the doctrine regarding God; and we, discovering traces of such teaching in the Scripture narratives, take occasion from such to aid our theological conceptions,104 hearing it declared in one passage, that “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all;” (1Jo_1:5) and in another, “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (Joh_4:24) But the purposes for which the Father sent Him are innumerable; and these any one may ascertain who chooses, partly from the prophets who prophesied of Him, and partly from the narratives of the evangelists. And not a few things also will he learn from the apostles, and especially from Paul. Moreover, those who are pious He leadeth to the light, and those who sin He will punish, – a circumstance which Celsus not observing, has represented Him “as one who will lead the pious to the light, and who will have mercy on others, whether they sin or repent.”105
After the above statements, he continues: “If he wished to remain hid, why was there heard a voice from heaven proclaiming him to be the Son of God? And if he did not seek to remain concealed, why was he punished? or why did he die?” Now, by such questions he thinks to convict the histories of discrepancy, not observing that Jesus neither desired all things regarding Himself to be known to all whom He happened to meet, nor yet all things to be unknown. Accordingly, the voice from heaven which proclaimed Him to be the Son of God, in the words, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” (Mat_3:17) is not stated to have been audible to the multitudes, as this Jew of Celsus supposed. The voice from the cloud on the high mountain, moreover, was heard only by those who had gone up with Him. For the divine voice is of such a nature, as to be heard only by those whom the speaker wishes to hear it. And I maintain, that the voice of God which is referred to, is neither air which has been struck, nor any concussion of the air, nor anything else which is mentioned in treatises on the voice;106 and therefore it is heard by a better and more divine organ of hearing than that of sense. And when the speaker will not have his voice to be heard by all; he that has the finer ear hears the voice of God, while he who has the ears of his soul deadened does not perceive that it is God who speaks. These things I have mentioned because of his asking, “Why was there heard a voice from heaven proclaiming him to be the Son of God?” while with respect to the query, “Why was he punished, if he wished to remain hid?” what has been stated at greater length in the preceding pages on the subject of His suffering may suffice.
The Jew proceeds, after this, to state as a consequence what does not follow from the premises; for it does not follow from “His having wished, by the punishments which He underwent, to teach us also to despise death,” that after His resurrection He should openly summon all men to the light, and instruct them in the object of His coming. For He had formerly summoned all men to the light in the words, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (cf. Mat_11:28) And the object of His coming had been explained at great length in His discourses on the beatitudes, and in the announcements which followed them, and in the parables, and in His conversations with the scribes and Pharisees. And the instruction afforded us by the Gospel of John, shows that the eloquence of Jesus consisted not in words, but in deeds; while it is manifest from the Gospel narratives that His speech was “with power,” on which account also they marvelled at Him.
In addition to all this, the Jew further says: “All these statements are taken from your own books, in addition to which we need no other witness; for ye fail upon your own swords.”107
Now we have proved that many foolish assertions, opposed to the narratives of our Gospels, occur in the statements of the Jew, either with respect to Jesus or ourselves. And I do not think that he has, shown that “we fall upon our own swords;” but he only so imagines. And when the Jew adds, in a general way, this to his former remarks: “O most high and heavenly one! what God, on appearing to men, is received with incredulity?” we must say to him, that according to the accounts in the law of Moses, God is related to have visited the Hebrews in a most public manner, not only in the signs and wonders performed in Egypt, and also in the passage of the Red Sea, and in the pillar of fire and cloud of light, but also when the Decalogue was announced to the whole people, and yet was received with incredulity by those who saw these things: for had they believed what they saw and heard, they would not have fashioned the calf, nor changed their own glory into the likeness of a grass-eating calf; nor would they have said to one another with reference to the calf, “These be thy gods, O Israel, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” (cf. Exo_32:4) And observe whether it is not entirely in keeping with the character of the same people, who formerly refused to believe such wonders and such appearances of divinity, throughout the whole period of wandering in the wilderness, as they are recorded in the law of the Jews to have done, to refuse to be convinced also, on occasion of the glorious advent of Jesus, by the mighty words which were spoken by Him with authority, and the marvels which He performed in the presence of all the people.
I think what has been stated is enough to convince any one that the unbelief of the Jews with regard to Jesus was in keeping with what is related of this people from the beginning. For I would say in reply to this Jew of Celsus, when he asks, “What God that appeared among men is received with incredulity, and that, too, when appearing to those who expect him? or why, pray, is he not recognized by those who have been long looking for him?” what answer friends, would you have us return to your108 questions? Which class of miracles, in your judgment, do you regard as the greater? Those which were wrought in Egypt and the wilderness, or those which we declare that Jesus performed among you? For if the former are in your opinion greater than the latter, does it not appear from this very fact to be in conformity with the character of those who disbelieved the greater to despise the less? And this is the opinion entertained with respect to our accounts of the miracles of Jesus. But if those related of Jesus are considered to be as great as those recorded of Moses, what strange thing has come to pass among a nation which has manifested incredulity with regard to the commencement of both dispensations?109 For the beginning of the legislation was in the time of Moses, in whose work are recorded the sins of the unbelievers and wicked among you, while the commencement of our legislation and second covenant is admitted to have been in the time of Jesus. And by your unbelief of Jesus ye show that ye are the sons of those who in the desert discredited the divine appearances; and thus what was spoken by our Saviour will be applicable also to you who believed not on Him: “Therefore ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers.” (cf. Luk_11:48) And there is fulfilled among you also the prophecy which said: “Your life shall hang in doubt before your eyes, and you will have no assurance of your life.” (cf. Deu_28:66) For ye did not believe in the life which came to visit the human race.
Celsus, in adopting the character of a Jew, could not discover any objections to be urged against the Gospel which might not be retorted on him as liable to be brought also against the law and the prophets. For he censures Jesus in such words as the following: “He makes use of threats, and reviles men on light grounds, when he says, ‘Woe unto you,’ and ‘I tell you beforehand.’ For by such expressions he manifestly acknowledges his inability to persuade; and this would not be the case with a God, or even a prudent man.” Observe, now, whether these charges do not manifestly recoil upon the Jew. For in the writings of the law and the prophets God makes use of threats and revilings, when He employs language of not less severity than that found in the Gospel, such as the following expressions of Isaiah: “Woe unto them that join house to house, and lay field to field;” (Isa_5:8) and, “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink;” (Isa_5:11) and, “Woe unto them that draw their sins after them as with a long rope;” (Isa_5:18) and, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;” (Isa_5:20) and, “Woe unto those of you who are mighty to drink wine;” (Isa_5:22) and innumerable other passages of the same kind. And does not the following resemble the threats of which he speaks: “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters?” (cf. Isa_1:4) and so on, to which he subjoins such threats as are equal in severity to those which, he says, Jesus made use of. For is it not a threatening, and a great one, which declares, “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers?” (Isa_1:7) And are there not revilings in Ezekiel directed against the people, when the Lord says to the prophet, “Thou dwellest in the midst of scorpions?” (Eze_2:6) Were you serious, then, Celsus, in representing the Jew as saying of Jesus, that “he makes use of threats and revilings on slight grounds, when he employs the expressions, ‘Woe unto you,’ and ‘I tell you beforehand?’” Do you not see that the charges which this Jew of yours brings against Jesus might be brought by him against God? For the God who speaks in the prophetic writings is manifestly liable to the same accusations, as Celsus regards them, of inability to persuade. I might, moreover, say to this Jew, who thinks that he makes a good charge against Jesus by such statements, that if he undertakes, in support of the scriptural account, to defend the numerous curses recorded in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, we should make as good, or better, a defence of the revilings and threatenings which are regarded as having been spoken by Jesus. And as respects the law of Moses itself, we are in a position to make a better defence of it than the Jew is, because we have been taught by Jesus to have a more intelligent apprehension of the writings of the law. Nay, if the Jew perceive the meaning of the prophetic Scriptures, he will be able to show that it is for no light reason that God employs threatenings and revilings, when He says, “Woe unto you,” and “I tell you beforehand.” And how should God employ such expressions for the conversion of men, which Celsus thinks that even a prudent man would not have recourse to? But Christians, who know only one God – the same who spoke in the prophets and in the Lord (Jesus) – can prove the reasonableness of those threatenings and revilings, as Celsus considers and entitles them. And here a few remarks shall be addressed to this Celsus, who professes both to be a philosopher, and to be acquainted with all our system. How is it, friend, when Hermes, in Homer, says to Odysseus,
“Why, now, wretched man, do you come wandering alone over the mountain-tops?”110
that you are satisfied with the answer, which explains that the Homeric Hermes addresses such language to Odysseus to remind him of his duty,111 because it is characteristic of the Sirens to flatter and to say pleasing things, around whom
“Is a huge heap of bones,”112
and who say,
“Come hither, much lauded Odysseus, great glory of the Greeks;”113
whereas, if our prophets and Jesus Himself, in order to turn their hearers from evil, make use of such expressions as “Woe unto you,” and what you regard as revilings, there is no condescension in such language to the circumstances of the hearers, nor any application of such words to them as healing114 medicine? Unless, indeed, you would have God, or one who partakes of the divine nature, when conversing with men, to have regard to His own nature alone, and to what is worthy of Himself, but to have no regard to what is fitting to be brought before men who are under the dispensation and leading of His word, and with each one of whom He is to converse agreeably to his individual character. And is it not a ridiculous assertion regarding Jesus, to say that He was unable to persuade men, when you compare the state of matters not only among the Jews, who have many such instances recorded in the prophecies, but also among the Greeks, among whom all of those who have attained great reputation for their wisdom have been unable to persuade those who conspired against them, or to induce their judges or accusers to cease from evil, and to endeavour to attain to virtue by the way of philosophy?
66 [δεήσετια. S.]
67 ὥστε μηδὲν διαφέρειν παραπλήσιον εἶναι λέγειν γοητειαν την Ἰησοῦ τῇ Μωΰσέως.
68 Cf. Herodot., iv. 95.
69 Cf. Herodot., ii. 122.
70 Cf. Diodor., iv., Bibl. Hist.
71 Cf. Diodor., iv., Bibl. Hist.
72 αὐτῷ σώματι. [ See Mozley’s Bampton Lectures On Miracles, 3d ed., p. 297: “That a man should rise from the dead, was treated by them (the heathen) as an absolutely incredible fact.” S.]
73 γυνη πάροιστρος.
74 κατὰ τινα διάθεσιν ὀνειρώξας.
75 ἢ κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ βούλησιν δόξῃ πεπλανημένῃ φαντασιωθείς.
77 τῶς οἴονται τὸ παραπλήσιον πλάσασθαι λέγειν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἱστορουμένοις, etc.
78 καταβεβηκέναι βιᾷ. Bohereau proposes the omission of βιᾷ.
80 Cf. 1Ki_17:21, 1Ki_17:22. [3 Kings, LXX and Vulg. S.]
81 Cf. 2Ki_4:34, 2Ki_4:35. [4 Kings, LXX and Vulg. S.]
84 [See cap. xxxiii., [On Phlegon, cf note in Migne, pp. 823, 854. See also vol 3. Elucidation V. p. 58.]
85 εἰ δὲ τὸ “ἐπήρκεσεν” ἀπὸ τῶν μέσων καὶ σωματικῶν λαμβάνει.
86 τὰ μὲν οὖν γινόμενα περὶ ψυχῆς τεθνηκότων φαντάσματα ἀπό τινος ὑποκειμένου γίνεται, τοῦ κατὰ τὴν ὑφεστηκυῖαν ἐν τῷ καλουμένῳ αὐγοειδεῖ σώματι ψυχήν. Cf. note in Benedictine ed.
88 ἐν σώματι ἀντιτύπῳ ἐγηγέρθαι.
89 ψυχῆς σῶμα.
90 Cf. Homer, Iliad, xxiii. 66, 67.
91 πλείονα τῇ ἐπινοία ἦν.
92 οὕτω καὶ ταῖς ὄψεσι πάντως μὲν τῆς ψυχῆς, ἐγὼ δ ἡγοῦμαι, ὃτι καὶ τοῦ σώματος.
93 τὸν μὴ ἀπεκδυσάμενον, etc. Cf. Alford, in loco ( Col_2:15).
95 τὴν οικονομίαν τελεσαντος.
96 χρήσιμον δ οἶμαι πρὸς ἀπολογίαν τῶν προκειμένων.
97 οὕτω μοι νόει καὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ ὦφθαι τῇ παραπλησίᾳ εἰς τὸ περὶ ἐκείνων, εἰς τὸ ὦφθαι αὐτοῖς τὸν Θεόν, κρίσει.
98 Cf. Gen_19:10, Gen_19:11. [Also Jud_1:7, “strange (or other) flesh.”]
99 Luk_23:52, οὐκ ἦν οὔπω οὐδεὶς κείμενος.
100 Joh_19:41, ἐν ᾦ οὐδέπω οὐδεὶς ἐτέθη.
101 τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ θιασώταις.
102 λέγω δὲ οὐ περὶ τῶν σχέσιν πρὸς ἔτερα ἐχόντων, ἀλλὰ περὶ τῶν κατὰ διαφοράν.
103 ἐναντίον τὸν μὲν κολαζόμενον πᾶσιν ἑωρᾶσθαι, ἀναστάντα δὲ ἑνί. The Benedictine editor reads τὸν μὲν κολαζόμενον, and Bohereau proposes ἐναντίον τῷ κολαζόμενον, etc.
104 ὧν ἴχνη ἐν τοῖς γεγραμμένοις εὑρίσκοντες ἀφορμὰς ἔχομεν θεολογεῖν.
105 The text is, τοὺς δὲ ἁμαρτάνοντας ἢ μεταγνόντας ἐλεήσων. Bohereau would read μὴ μεταγνόντας, or would render the passage as if the reading were ἢ ἁμαρτανόντας, ἢ μεταγνόντας. This suggestion has been adopted in the translation.
106 οὐδέπω δὲ λέγω, ὅτι οὐ πάντως ἐστὶν ἀὴρ πεπληγμένος· ἢ πληγὴ ἀέρος, ἢ ὅ τι τοτὲ λέγεται ἐν τοῖς περὶ φωνῆς.
107 αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἑαυτοῖς περιπίπτετε. [See note, cap. xiii. S.]
108 The text reads ἡμῶν, for which Bohereau and the Benedictine editor propose either ὑμᾶς or ἡμᾶς, the former of which is preferred by Lommatzsch.
109 κατ ἀμφοτέρας τὰς ἀρχὰς τῶν πραγμάτων ἀπιστοῦντι;.
110 Cf. Odyss., x. 281.
111 ὑπὲρ ἐπιστροφῆς.
112 Cf. Odyss., xii. 45.
113 Odyss., xii. 184.
114 παιώνιον φάρμακον.