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

Book VI. (C0nt.)

Chap. LXXVI.

Let it be supposed, however, that he had not read the prophecy, or that he had read it, but had been drawn away by those who misinterpreted it as not being spoken of Jesus Christ. What has he to say of the Gospel, in the narratives of which Jesus ascended up into a high mountain, and was transfigured before the disciples, and was seen in glory, when both Moses: and Elias, “being seen in glory, spake of the decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem?” (Luk_9:31) or when the prophet says, “We beheld Him, and He had no form nor beauty,” etc.? and Celsus accepts this prophecy as referring to Jesus, being blinded in so accepting it, and not seeing that it is a great proof that the Jesus who appeared to be “without form” was the Son of God, that His very appearance should have been made the subject of prophecy many years before His birth. But if another prophet speak of His comeliness and beauty, he will no longer accept the prophecy as referring to Christ And if it were to be clearly ascertained from the Gospels that “He had no form nor beauty, but that His appearance was without honour, and inferior to that of the sons of men,” it might be said that it was not with reference to the prophetic writings, but to the Gospels, that Celsus made his remarks. But now, as neither the Gospels nor the apostolic writings indicate that “He had no form nor beauty,” it is evident that we must accept the declaration of the prophets as true of Christ, and this will prevent the charge against Jesus from being advanced.270



But again, how did he who said, “Since a divine Spirit inhabited the body (of Jesus), it must certainly have been different from that of other beings in respect of grandeur, or voice, or strength, or impressiveness, or persuasiveness,” not observe the changing relation of His body according to the capacity of the spectators (and therefore its corresponding utility), inasmuch as it appeared to each one of such a nature as it was requisite for him to behold it? Moreover it is not a subject of wonder that the matter, which is by nature susceptible of being altered and changed, and of being transformed into anything which the Creator chooses, and is capable of receiving all the qualities which the Artificer desires, should at one time possess a quality, agreeably to which it is said, “He had no form nor beauty,” and at another, one so glorious, and majestic, and marvellous, that the spectators of such surpassing loveliness – three disciples who had ascended (the mount) with Jesus – should fall upon their faces. He will say, however, that these are inventions, and in no respect different from myths, as are also the other marvels related of Jesus; which objection we have answered at greater length in what has gone before. But there is also something mystical in this doctrine, which announces that the varying appearances of Jesus are to be referred to the nature of the divine Word, who does not show Himself in the same manner to the multitude as He does to those who are capable of following Him to the high mountain which we have mentioned; for to those who still remain below, and are not yet prepared to ascend, the Word “has neither form nor beauty,” because to such persons His form is “without honour,” and inferior to the words given forth by men, which are figuratively termed “sons of men.” For we might say that the words of philosophers – who are “sons of men” – appear far more beautiful than the Word of God, who is proclaimed to the multitude, and who also exhibits (what is called) the “foolishness of preaching,” and on account of this apparent “foolishness of preaching” those who look at this alone say, “We saw Him; but He had no form nor beauty.” To those, indeed, Who have received power to follow Him, in order that they may attend Him even when He ascends to the “lofty mount,” He has a diviner appearance, which they behold, if there happens to be (among them) a Peter, who has received within himself the edifice of the Church based upon the Word, and who has gained such a habit (of goodness) that none of the gates of Hades will prevail against him, having been exalted by the Word from the gates of death, that he may “publish the praises of God in the gates of the daughter of Sion,” and any others who have derived their birth from impressive preaching,271 and who are not at all inferior to “sons of thunder.” But how can Celsus and the enemies of the divine Word, and those who have not examined the doctrines of Christianity in the spirit of truth, know the meaning of the different appearances of Jesus? And I refer also to the different stages of His life, and to any actions performed by Him before His sufferings, and after His resurrection from the dead.



Celsus next makes certain observations of the following nature: “Again, if God, like Jupiter in the comedy, should, on awaking from a lengthened slumber, desire to rescue the human race from evil, why did He send this Spirit of which you speak into one corner (of the earth)? He ought to have breathed it alike into many bodies, and have sent them out into all the world. Now the comic poet, to cause laughter in the theatre, wrote that Jupiter, after awakening, despatched Mercury to the Athenians and Lacedaemonians; but do not you think that you have made the Son of God more ridiculous in sending Him to the Jews?” Observe in such language as this the irreverent character of Celsus, who, unlike a philosopher, takes the writer of a comedy, whose business is to cause laughter, and compares our God, the Creator of all things, to the being who, as represented in the play, on awaking, despatches Mercury (on an errand)! We stated, indeed, in what precedes, that it was not as if awakening from a lengthened slumber that God sent Jesus to the human race, who has now, for good reasons, fulfilled the economy of His incarnation, but who has always conferred benefits upon the human race. For no noble deed has ever been performed amongst men, where the divine Word did not visit the souls of those who were capable, although for a little time, of admitting such operations of the divine Word. Moreover, the advent of Jesus apparently to one corner (of the earth) was founded on good reasons, since it was necessary that He who was the subject of prophecy should make His appearance among those who had become acquainted with the doctrine of one God, and who perused the writings of His prophets, and who had come to know the announcement of Christ, and that He should come to them at a time when the Word was about to be diffused from one corner over the whole world.


Chap. LXXIX.

And therefore there was no need that there should everywhere exist many bodies, and many spirits like Jesus, in order that the whole world of men might be enlightened by the Word of God. For the one Word was enough, having arisen as the “Sun of righteousness,” to send forth from Judea His coming rays into the soul of all who were willing to receive Him. But if any one desires to see many bodies filled with a divine Spirit, similar to the one Christ, ministering to the salvation of men everywhere, let him take note of those who teach the Gospel of Jesus in all lands in soundness of doctrine and uprightness of life, and who are themselves termed “christs” by the holy Scriptures, in the passage, “Touch not Mine anointed,272 and do not My prophets any harm.” (cf. 1Ch_16:22 and Psa_105:15) For as we have heard that Antichrist cometh, and yet have learned that there are many antichrists in the world, in the same way, knowing that Christ has come, we see that, owing to Him, there are many christs in the world, who, like Him, have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and therefore God, the God of Christ, anointed them also with the “oil of gladness.” But inasmuch as He loved righteousness and hated iniquity above those who were His partners,273 He also obtained the first-fruits of His anointing, and, if we must so term it, the entire unction of the oil of gladness; while they who were His partners shared also in His unction, in proportion to their individual capacity. Therefore, since Christ is the Head of the Church, so that Christ and the Church form one body, the ointment descended from the head to the beard of Aaron, – the symbols of the perfect man, – and this ointment in its descent reached to the very skirt of his garment. This is my answer to the irreverent language of Celsus when he says, “He ought to have breathed (His Spirit) alike into many bodies, and have sent it forth into all the world.” The comic poet, indeed, to cause laughter, has represented Jupiter asleep and awaking from slumber, and despatching Mercury to the Greeks; but the Word, knowing that the nature of God is unaffected by sleep, may teach us that God administers in due season, and as right reason demands, the affairs of the world. It is not, however, a matter of surprise that, owing to the greatness and incomprehensibility274 of the divine judgments, ignorant persons should make mistakes, and Celsus among them. There is therefore nothing ridiculous in the Son of God having been sent to the Jews, amongst whom the prophets had appeared, in order that, making a commencement among them in a bodily shape, He might arise with might and power upon a world of souls, which no longer desired to remain deserted by God.


Chap. LXXX.

After this, it seemed proper to Celsus to term the Chaldeans a most divinely-inspired nation from the very earliest times,275 from whom the delusive system of astrology276 has spread abroad among men. Nay, he ranks the Magi also in the same category, from whom the art of magic derived its name and has been transmitted to other nations, to the corruption and destruction of those who employ it. In the preceding part of this work, (we mentioned) that, in the opinion even of Celsus, the Egyptians also were guilty of error, because they had indeed solemn enclosures around what they considered their temples, while within them there was nothing save apes, or crocodiles, or goats, or asps, or some other animal; but on the present occasion it pleases him to speak of the Egyptian people too as most divinely inspired, and that, too, from the earliest times, – perhaps because they made war upon the Jews from an early date. The Persians, moreover, who marry their own mothers,277 and have intercourse with their own daughters, are, in the opinion of Celsus, an inspired race; nay, even the Indians are so, some of whom, in the preceding, he mentioned as eaters of human flesh. To the Jews, however, especially those of ancient times, who employ none of these practices, he did not merely refuse the name of inspired, but declared that they would immediately perish. And this prediction he uttered respecting them, as being doubtless endued with prophetic power, not observing that the whole history of the Jews, and their ancient and venerable polity, were administered by God; and that it is by their fall that salvation has come to the Gentiles, and that “their fall is the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles,” (cf. Rom_11:11, Rom_11:12) until the fulness of the Gentiles come, that after that the whole of Israel, whom Celsus does not know, may be saved.


Chap. LXXXI.

I do not understand, however, how he should say of God, that although “knowing all things, He was not aware of this, that He was sending His Son amongst wicked men, who were both to be guilty of sin, and to inflict punishment upon Him.” Certainly he appears, in the present instance, to have forgotten that all the sufferings which Jesus was to undergo were foreseen by the Spirit of God, and foretold by His prophets; from which it does not follow that “God did not know that He was sending His Son amongst wicked and sinful men, who were also to inflict punishment upon Him.” He immediately adds, however, that “our defence on this point is that all these things were predicted.” But as our sixth book has now attained sufficient dimensions, we shall stop here, and begin, God willing, the argument of the seventh, in which we shall consider the reasons which he thinks furnish an answer to our statement, that everything regarding Jesus was foretold by the prophets; and as these are numerous, and require to be answered at length, we wished neither to cut the subject short, in consequence of the size of the present book, nor, in order to avoid doing so, to swell this sixth book beyond its proper proportions. 





270 προβαινειν.

271 καὶ εἴ τινές εἰσιν ὲκ λόγων την γένεσιν λαχόντες μεγαλοφώνων.

272 τῶν χριστῶν μου.

273 τοὺς μετόχους αὐτοῦ.

274 δυσδιηγήτους τὰς κρίσεις.

275 ἐξ ἀρχῆς.

276 γενεθλιαλογία.

277 [On the manners of heathen nations, note this. See 1Co_5:1.]