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

Book II. (C0nt.)

Chap. XXI.

Observe also the superficiality and manifest falsity of such a statement of Celsus, when he asserts “that he who was partaker of a man’s table would not conspire against him; and if he would not conspire against a man, much less would he plot against a God after banqueting with him.” For who does not know that many persons, after partaking of the salt on the table,32 have entered into a conspiracy against their entertainers? The whole of Greek and Barbarian history is full of such instances. And the Iambic poet of Paros,33 when upbraiding Lycambes with having violated covenants confirmed by the salt of the table, says to him: – 

“But thou hast broken a mighty oath – that, viz., by the salt of the table.”

And they who are interested in historical learning, and who give themselves wholly to it, to the neglect of other branches of knowledge more necessary for the conduct of life,34 can quote numerous instances, showing that they who shared in the hospitality of others entered into conspiracies against them.


Chap. XXII.

He adds to this, as if he had brought together an argument with conclusive demonstrations and consequences, the following: “And, which is still more absurd, God himself conspired against those who sat at his table, by converting them into traitors and impious men.” But how Jesus could either conspire or convert His disciples into traitors or impious men, it would be impossible for him to prove, save by means of such a deduction as any one could refute with the greatest ease.


Chap. XXIII.

He continues in this strain: “If he had determined upon these things, and underwent chastisement in obedience to his Father, it is manifest that, being a God, and submitting voluntarily, those things that were done agreeably to his own decision were neither painful nor distressing.” But he did not observe that here he was at once contradicting himself. For if he granted that He was chastised because He had determined upon these things, and had submitted Himself to His Father, it is clear that He actually suffered punishment, and it was impossible that what was inflicted on Him by His chastisers should not be painful, because pain is an involuntary thing. But if, because He was willing to suffer, His inflictions were neither painful nor distressing, how did He grant that “He was chastised?” He did not perceive that when Jesus had once, by His birth, assumed a body, He assumed one which was capable both of suffering pains, and those distresses incidental to humanity, if we are to understand by distresses what no one voluntarily chooses. Since, therefore, He voluntarily assumed a body, not wholly of a different nature from that of human flesh, so along with His body He assumed also its sufferings and distresses, which it was not in His power to avoid enduring, it being in the power of those who inflicted them to send upon Him things distressing and painful. And in the preceding pages we have already shown, that He would not have come into the hands of men had He not so willed. But He did come, because He was willing to come, and because it was manifest beforehand that His dying upon behalf of men would be of advantage to the whole human race.


Chap. XXIV.

After this, wishing to prove that the occurrences which befell Him were painful and distressing, and that it was impossible for Him, had He wished, to render them otherwise, he proceeds: “Why does he mourn, and lament, and pray to escape the fear of death, expressing himself in terms like these: ‘O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me?’” (Mat_26:39) Now in these words observe the malignity of Celsus, how not accepting the love of truth which actuates the writers of the Gospels (who might have passed over in silence those points which, as Celsus thinks, are censurable, but who did not omit them for many reasons, which any one, in expounding the Gospel, can give in their proper place), he brings an accusation against the Gospel statement, grossly exaggerating the facts, and quoting what is not written in the Gospels, seeing it is nowhere found that Jesus lamented. And he changes the words in the expression, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me,” and does not give what follows immediately after, which manifests at once the ready obedience of Jesus to His Father, and His greatness of mind, and which runs thus: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Mat_26:39) Nay, even the cheerful obedience of Jesus to the will of His Father in those things which He was condemned to suffer, exhibited in the declaration, “If this cup cannot pass from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done,” he pretends not to have observed, acting here like those wicked individuals who listen to the Holy Scriptures in a malignant spirit, and “who talk wickedness with lofty head.” For they appear to have heard the declaration, “I kill,” (Deu_32:39) and they often make it to us a subject of reproach; but the words, “I will make alive,” they do not remember, – the whole sentence showing that those who live amid public wickedness, and who work wickedly, are put to death by God, and that a better life is infused into them instead, even one which God will give to those who have died to sin. And so also these men have heard the words, “I will smite;” but they do not see these, “and I will heal,” which are like the words of a physician, who cuts bodies asunder, and inflicts severe wounds, in order to extract from them substances that are injurious and prejudicial to health, and who does not terminate his work with pains and lacerations, but by his treatment restores the body to that state of soundness which he has in view. Moreover, they have not heard the whole of the announcement, “For He maketh sore, and again bindeth up;” but only this part, “He maketh sore.” So in like manner acts this Jew of Celsus who quotes the words, “O Father, would that this cup might pass from Me;” but who does not add what follows, and which exhibits the firmness of Jesus, and His preparedness for suffering. But these matters, which afford great room for explanation from the wisdom of God, and which may reasonably be pondered over35 by those whom Paul calls “perfect” when he said, “We speak wisdom among them who are perfect,” (1Co_2:6) we pass by for the present, and shall speak for a little of those matters which are useful for our present purpose.


Chap. XXV.

We have mentioned in the preceding pages that there are some of the declarations of Jesus which refer to that Being in Him which was the “first-born of every creature,” such as, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” and such like; and others, again, which belong to that in Him which is understood to be man, such as, “But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth which I have heard of the Father.” (Joh_8:40) And here, accordingly, he describes the element of weakness belonging to human flesh, and that of readiness of spirit which existed in His humanity: the element of weakness in the expression, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me;” the readiness of the spirit in this, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” And since it is proper to observe the order of our quotations, observe that, in the first place, there is mentioned only the single instance, as one would say, indicating the weakness of the flesh; and afterwards those other instances, greater in number, manifesting the willingness of the spirit. For the expression, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me,” is only one: whereas more numerous are those others, viz., “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt;” and, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done.” It is to be noted also, that the words are not, “let this cup depart from Me;” but that the whole expression is marked by a tone of piety and reverence, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” I know, indeed, that there is another explanation of this passage to the following effect: – The Saviour, foreseeing the sufferings which the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem were to undergo in requital of the wicked deeds which the Jews had dared to perpetrate upon Him, from no other motive than that of the purest philanthropy towards them, and from a desire that they might escape the impending calamities, gave utterance to the prayer, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” It is as if He had said, “Because of My drinking this cup of punishment, the whole nation will be forsaken by Thee, I pray, if it be possible, that this cup may pass from Me, in order that Thy portion, which was guilty of such crimes against Me, may not be altogether deserted by Thee.” But if, as Celsus would allege, “nothing at that time was done to Jesus which was either painful or distressing,” how could men afterwards quote the example of Jesus as enduring sufferings for the sake of religion, if He did not suffer what are human sufferings, but only had the appearance of so doing?


Chap. XXVI.

This Jew of Celsus still accuses the disciples of Jesus of having invented these statements, saying to them: “Even although guilty of falsehood, ye have not been able to give a colour of credibility to your inventions.” In answer to which we have to say, that there was an easy method of concealing these occurrences, – that, viz., of not recording them at all. For if the Gospels had not contained the accounts of these things, who could have reproached us with Jesus having spoken such words during His stay upon the earth? Celsus, indeed, did not see that it was an inconsistency for the same persons both to be deceived regarding Jesus, believing Him to be God, and the subject of prophecy, and to invent fictions about Him, knowing manifestly that these statements were false. Of a truth, therefore, they were not guilty of inventing untruths, but such were their real impressions, and they recorded them truly; or else they were guilty of falsifying the histories, and did not entertain these views, and were not deceived when they acknowledged Him to be God.


Chap. XXVII.

After this he says, that certain of the Christian believers, like persons who in a fit of drunkenness lay violent hands upon themselves, have corrupted the Gospel from its original integrity, to a threefold, and fourfold, and many-fold degree, and have remodelled it, so that they might be able to answer objections. Now I know of no others who have altered the Gospel, save the followers of Marcion, and those of Valentinus, and, I think, also those of Lucian. But such an allegation is no charge against the Christian system, but against those who dared so to trifle with the Gospels. And as it is no ground of accusation against philosophy, that there exist Sophists, or Epicureans, or Peripatetics, or any others, whoever they may be, who hold false opinions; so neither is it against genuine Christianity that there are some who corrupt the Gospel histories, and who introduce heresies opposed to the meaning of the doctrine of Jesus.



And since this Jew of Celsus makes it a subject of reproach that Christians should make use of the prophets, who predicted the events of Christ’s life, we have to say, in addition to what we have already advanced upon this head, that it became him to spare individuals, as he says, and to expound the prophecies themselves, and after admitting the probability of the Christian interpretation of them, to show how the use which they make of them may be overturned.36 For in this way he would not appear hastily to assume so important a position on small grounds, and particularly when he asserts that the “prophecies agree with ten thousand other things more credibly than with Jesus.” And he ought to have carefully met this powerful argument of the Christians, as being the strongest which they adduce, and to have demonstrated with regard to each particular prophecy, that it can apply to other events with greater probability than to Jesus. He did not, however, perceive that this was a plausible argument to be advanced against the Christians only by one who was an opponent of the prophetic writings; but Celsus has here put in the mouth of a Jew an objection which a Jew would not have made. For a Jew will not admit that the prophecies may be applied to countless other things with greater probability than to Jesus; but he will endeavour, after giving what appears to him the meaning of each, to oppose the Christian interpretation, not indeed by any means adducing convincing reasons, but only attempting to do so.


Chap. XXIX.

In the preceding pages we have already spoken of this point, viz., the prediction that there were to be two advents of Christ to the human race, so that it is not necessary for us to reply to the objection, supposed to be urged by a Jew, that “the prophets declare the coming one to be a mighty potentate, Lord of all nations and armies.” But it is in the spirit of a Jew, I think, and in keeping with their bitter animosity, and baseless and even improbable calumnies against Jesus, that he adds: “Nor did the prophets predict such a pestilence.”37 For neither Jews, nor Celsus, nor any other, can bring any argument to prove that a pestilence converts men from the practice of evil to a life which is according to nature, and distinguished by temperance and other virtues.


Chap. XXX.

This objection also is cast in our teeth by Celsus: “From such signs and misinterpretations, and from proofs so mean, no one could prove him to be God, and the Son of God.” Now it was his duty to enumerate the alleged misinterpretations, and to prove them to be such, and to show by reasoning the meanness of the evidence, in order that the Christian, if any of his objections should seem to be plausible, might be able to answer and confute his arguments. What he said, however, regarding Jesus, did indeed come to pass, because He was a mighty potentate, although Celsus refuses to see that it so happened, notwithstanding that the clearest evidence proves it true of Jesus. “For as the sun,” he says, “which enlightens all other objects, first makes himself visible, so ought the Son of God to have done.” We would say in reply, that so He did; for righteousness has arisen in His days, and there is abundance of peace, which took its commencement at His birth, God preparing the nations for His teaching, that they might be under one prince, the king of the Romans, and that it might not, owing to the want of union among the nations, caused by the existence of many kingdoms, be more difficult for the apostles of Jesus to accomplish the task enjoined upon them by their Master, when He said, “Go and teach all nations.” Moreover it is certain that Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus, who, so to speak, fused together into one monarchy the many populations of the earth. Now the existence of many kingdoms would have been a hindrance to the spread of the doctrine of Jesus throughout the entire world; not only for the reasons mentioned, but also on account of the necessity of men everywhere engaging in war, and fighting on behalf of their native country, which was the case before the times of Augustus, and in periods still more remote, when necessity arose, as when the Peloponnesians and Athenians warred against each other, and other nations in like manner. How, then, was it possible for the Gospel doctrine of peace, which does not permit men to take vengeance even upon enemies, to prevail throughout the world, unless at the advent of Jesus38 a milder spirit had been everywhere introduced into the conduct of things?


Chap. XXXI.

He next charges the Christians with being “guilty of sophistical reasoning, in saying that the Son of God is the Logos Himself.” And he thinks that he strengthens the accusation, because “when we declare the Logos to be the Son of God, we do not present to view a pure and holy Logos, but a most degraded man, who was punished by scourging and crucifixion.” Now, on this head we have briefly replied to the charges of Celsus in the preceding pages, where Christ was shown to be the first-born of all creation, who assumed a body and a human soul; and that God gave commandment respecting the creation of such mighty things in the world, and they were created; and that He who received the command was God the Logos. And seeing it is a Jew who makes these statements in the work of Celsus, it will not be out of place to quote the declaration, “He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction,” (Psa_107:20) – a passage of which we spoke a little ago. Now, although I have conferred with many Jews who professed to be learned men, I never heard any one expressing his approval of the statement that the Logos is the Son of God, as Celsus declares they do, in putting into the mouth of the Jew such a declaration as this: “If your Logos is the Son of God, we also give out assent to the same.”


Chap. XXXII.

We have already shown that Jesus can be regarded neither as an arrogant man, nor a sorcerer; and therefore it is unnecessary to repeat our former arguments, lest, in replying to the tautologies of Celsus, we ourselves should be guilty of needless repetition. And now, in finding fault with our Lord’s genealogy, there are certain points which occasion some difficulty even to Christians, and which, owing to the discrepancy between the genealogies, are advanced by some as arguments against their correctness, but which Celsus has not even mentioned. For Celsus, who is truly a braggart, and who professes to be acquainted with all matters relating to Christianity, does not know how to raise doubts in a skilful manner against the credibility of Scripture. But he asserts that the “framers of the genealogies, from a feeling of pride, made Jesus to be descended from the first man, and from the kings of the Jews.” And he thinks that he makes a notable charge when he adds, that “the carpenter’s wife could not have been ignorant of the fact, had she been of such illustrious descent.” But what has this to do with the question? Granted that she was not ignorant of her descent, how does that affect the result? Suppose that she were ignorant, how could her ignorance prove that she was not descended from the first man, or could not derive her origin from the Jewish kings? Does Celsus imagine that the poor must always be descended from ancestors who are poor, or that kings are always born of kings? But it appears folly to waste time upon such an argument as this, seeing it is well known that, even in our own days, some who are poorer than Mary are descended from ancestors of wealth and distinction, and that rulers of nations and kings have sprung from persons of no reputation.



“But,” continues Celsus, “what great deeds did Jesus perform as being a God? Did he put his enemies to shame, or bring to a ridiculous conclusion what was designed against him?” Now to this question, although we are able to show the striking and miraculous character of the events which befell Him, yet from what other source can we furnish an answer than from the Gospel narratives, which state that “there was an earthquake, and that the rocks were split asunder, and the tombs opened, and the veil of the temple rent in twain from top to bottom, and that darkness prevailed in the day-time, the sun failing to give light?” (cf. Mat_27:51, Mat_27:52; cf. Luk_23:44, Luk_23:45) But if Celsus believe the Gospel accounts when he thinks that he can find in them matter of charge against the Christians, and refuse to believe them when they establish the divinity of Jesus, our answer to him is: “Sir,39 either disbelieve all the Gospel narratives, and then no longer imagine that you can found charges upon them; or, in yielding your belief to their statements, look in admiration on the Logos of God, who became incarnate, and who desired to confer benefits upon the whole human race. And this feature evinces the nobility of the work of Jesus, that, down to the present time, those whom God wills are healed by His name.40 And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place, Phlegon too, I think, has written in the thirteenth or fourteenth book of his Chronicles.”41


Chap. XXXIV.

This Jew of Celsus, ridiculing Jesus, as he imagines, is described as being acquainted with the Bacchae of Euripides, in which Dionysus says: – 

“The divinity himself will liberate me whenever I wish.”42

Now the Jews are not much acquainted with Greek literature; but suppose that there was a Jew so well versed in it (as to make such a quotation on his part appropriate), how (does it follow) that Jesus could not liberate Himself, because He did not do so? For let him believe from our own Scriptures that Peter obtained his freedom after having been bound in prison, an angel having loosed his chains; and that Paul, having been bound in the stocks along with Silas in Philippi of Macedonia, was liberated by divine power, when the gates of the prison were opened. But it is probable that Celsus treats these accounts with ridicule, or that he never read them; for he would probably say in reply, that there are certain sorcerers who are able by incantations to unloose chains and to open doors, so that he would liken the events related in our histories to the doings of sorcerers. “But,” he continues, “no calamity happened even to him who condemned him, as there did to Pentheus, viz., madness or discerption.”43 And yet he does not know that it was not so much Pilate that condemned Him (who knew that “for envy the Jews had delivered Him”), as the Jewish nation, which has been condemned by God, and rent in pieces, and dispersed over the whole earth, in a degree far beyond what happened to Pentheus. Moreover, why did he intentionally omit what is related of Pilate’s wife, who beheld a vision, and who was so moved by it as to send a message to her husband, saying: “Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him?” (Mat_27:19) And again, passing by in silence the proofs of the divinity of Jesus, Celsus endeavours to cast reproach upon Him from the narratives in the Gospel, referring to those who mocked Jesus, and put on Him the purple robe, and the crown of thorns, and placed the reed in His hand. From what source now, Celsus, did you derive these statements, save from the Gospel narratives? And did you, accordingly, see that they were fit matters for reproach; while they who recorded them did not think that you, and such as you, would turn them into ridicule; but that others would receive from them an example how to despise those who ridiculed and mocked Him on account of His religion, who appropriately laid down His life for its sake? Admire rather their love of truth, and that of the Being who bore these things voluntarily for the sake of men, and who endured them with all constancy and long-suffering. For it is not recorded that He uttered any lamentation, or that after His condemnation He either did or uttered anything unbecoming.


Chap. XXXV.

But in answer to this objection, “If not before, yet why now, at least, does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him and his Father?” We have to reply, that it would be the same thing as if we were to say to those among the Greeks who accept the doctrine of providence, and who believe in portents, Why does God not punish those who insult the Divinity, and subvert the doctrine of providence? For as the Greeks would answer such objections, so would we, in the same, or a more effective manner. There was not only a portent from heaven – the eclipse of the sun – but also the other miracles, which show that the crucified One possessed something that was divine, and greater than was possessed by the majority of men.


Chap. XXXVI.

Celsus next says: “What is the nature of the ichor in the body of the crucified Jesus? Is it ‘such as flows in the bodies of the immortal gods?’”44 He puts this question in a spirit of mockery; but we shall show from the serious narratives of the Gospels, although Celsus may not like it, that it was no mythic and Homeric ichor which flowed from the body of Jesus, but that, after His death, “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and there came there-out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true, and he knoweth that he saith the truth.” (cf. Joh_19:34, Joh_19:35) Now, in other dead bodies the blood congeals, and pure water does not flow forth; but the miraculous feature in the case of the dead body of Jesus was, that around the dead body blood and water flowed forth from the side. But if this Celsus, who, in order to find matter of accusation against Jesus and the Christians, extracts from the Gospel even passages which are incorrectly interpreted, but passes over in silence the evidences of the divinity of Jesus, would listen to divine portents, let him read the Gospel, and see that even the centurion, and they who with him kept watch over Jesus, on seeing the earthquake, and the events that occurred, were greatly afraid, saying, “This man was the Son of God.” (cf. Mat_27:54)



After this, he who extracts from the Gospel narrative those statements on which he thinks he can found an accusation, makes the vinegar and the gall a subject of reproach to Jesus, saying that “he rushed with open mouth45 to drink of them, and could not endure his thirst as any ordinary man frequently endures it.” Now this matter admits of an explanation of a peculiar and figurative kind; but on the present occasion, the statement that the prophets predicted this very incident may be accepted as the more common answer to the objection. For in the sixty-ninth Psalm there is written, with reference to Christ: “And they gave me gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink,” (Psa_69:21) Now, let the Jews say who it is that the prophetic writing represents as uttering these words; and let them adduce from history one who received gall for his food, and to whom vinegar was given as drink. Would they venture to assert that the Christ whom they expect still to come might be placed in such circumstances? Then we would say, What prevents the prediction from having been already accomplished? For this very prediction was uttered many ages before, and is sufficient, along with the other prophetic utterances, to lead him who fairly examines the whole matter to the conclusion that Jesus is He who was prophesied of as Christ, and as the Son of God.



The few next remarks: “You, O sincere believers,46 find fault with us, because we do not recognise this individual as God, nor agree with you that he endured these (sufferings) for the benefit of mankind, in order that we also might despise punishment.” Now, in answer to this, we say that we blame the Jews, who have been brought up under the training of the law and the prophets (which foretell the coming of Christ), because they neither refute the arguments which we lay before them to prove that He is the Messiah,47 adducing such refutation as a defence of their unbelief; nor yet, while not offering any refutation, do they believe in Him who was the subject of prophecy, and who clearly manifested through His disciples, even after the period of His appearance in the flesh, that He underwent these things for the benefit of mankind; having, as the object of His first advent, not to condemn men and their actions48 before He had instructed them, and pointed out to them their duty,49 nor to chastise the wicked and save the good, but to disseminate His doctrine in an extraordinary50 manner, and with the evidence of divine power, among the whole human race, as the prophets also have represented these things. And we blame them, moreover, because they did not believe in Him who gave evidence of the power that was in Him, but asserted that He cast out demons from the souls of men through Beelzebub the prince of the demons; and we blame them because they slander the philanthropic character of Him, who overlooked not only no city, but not even a single village in Judea, that He might everywhere announce the kingdom of God, accusing Him of leading the wandering life of a vagabond, and passing an anxious existence in a disgraceful body. But there is no disgrace in enduring such labours for the benefit of all those who may be able to understand Him.


Chap. XXXIX.

And how can the following assertion of this Jew of Celsus appear anything else than a manifest falsehood, viz., that Jesus, “having gained over no one during his life, not even his own disciples, underwent these punishments and sufferings?” For from what other source sprang the envy which was aroused against Him by the Jewish high priests, and elders, and scribes, save from the fact that multitudes obeyed and followed Him, and were led into the deserts not only by the persuasive51 language of Him whose words were always appropriate to His hearers, but who also by His miracles made an impression on those who were not moved to belief by His words? And is it not a manifest falsehood to say that “he did not gain over even his own disciples,” who exhibited, indeed, at that time some symptoms of human weakness arising from cowardly fear – for they had not yet been disciplined to the exhibition of full courage – but who by no means abandoned the judgments which they had formed regarding Him as the Christ? For Peter, after his denial, perceiving to what a depth of wickedness he had fallen, “went out and wept bitterly;” while the others, although stricken with dismay on account of what had happened to Jesus (for they still continued to admire Him), had, by His glorious appearance,52 their belief more firmly established than before that He was the Son of God.


Chap. XL.

It is, moreover, in a very unphilosophical spirit that Celsus imagines our Lord’s pre-eminence among men to consist, not in the preaching of salvation and in a pure morality, but in acting contrary to the character of that personality which He had taken upon Him, and in not dying, although He had assumed mortality; or, if dying, yet at least not such a death as might serve as a pattern to those who were to learn by that very act how to die for the sake of religion, and to comport themselves boldly through its help, before those who hold erroneous views on the subject of religion and irreligion, and who regard religious men as altogether irreligious, but imagine those to be most religious who err regarding God, and who apply to everything rather than to God the ineradicable53 idea of Him (which is implanted in the human mind), and especially when they eagerly rush to destroy those who have yielded themselves up with their whole soul (even unto death), to the clear evidence of one God who is over all things.


Chap. XLI.

In the person of the Jew, Celsus continues to find fault with Jesus, alleging that “he did not show himself to be pure from all evil.” Let Celsus state from what “evil” our Lord did not, show Himself to be pure. If he means that, He was not pure from what is properly termed “evil,” let him clearly prove the existence of any wicked work in Him. But if he deems poverty and the cross to be evils, and conspiracy on the part of wicked men, then it is clear that he would say that evil had happened also to Socrates, who was unable to show himself pure from evils. And how great also the other band of poor men is among the Greeks, who have given themselves to philosophical pursuits, and have voluntarily accepted a life of poverty, is known to many among the Greeks from what is recorded of Democritus, who allowed his property to become pasture for sheep; and of Crates, who obtained his freedom by bestowing upon the Thebans the price received for the sale of his possessions. Nay, even Diogenes himself, from excessive poverty, came to live in a tub; and yet, in the opinion of no one possessed of moderate understanding, was Diogenes on that account considered to be in an evil (sinful) condition.


Chap. XLII.

But further, since Celsus will have it that “Jesus was not irreproachable,” let him instance any one of those who adhere to His doctrine, who has recorded anything that could truly furnish ground of reproach against Jesus; or if it be not from these that he derives his matter of accusation against Him, let him say from what quarter he has learned that which has induced him to say that He is not free from reproach. Jesus, however, performed all that He promised to do, and by which He conferred benefits upon his adherents. And we, continually seeing fulfilled all that was predicted by Him before it happened, viz., that this Gospel of His should be preached throughout the whole world, and that His disciples should go among all nations and announce His doctrine; and, moreover, that they should be brought before governors and kings on no other account than because of His teaching; we are lost in wonder at Him, and have our faith in Him daily confirmed. And I know not by what greater or more convincing proofs Celsus would have Him confirm His predictions; unless, indeed, as seems to be the case, not understanding that the Logos had become the man Jesus, he would have Him to be subject to no human weakness, nor to become an illustrious pattern to men of the manner in which they ought to bear the calamities of life, although these appear to Celsus to be most lamentable and disgraceful occurrences, seeing that he regards labour54 to be the greatest of evils, and pleasure the perfect good, – a view accepted by none of those philosophers who admit the doctrine of providence, and who allow that courage, and fortitude, and magnanimity are virtues. Jesus, therefore, by His sufferings cast no discredit upon the faith of which He was the object; but rather confirmed the same among those who would approve of manly courage, and among those who were taught by Him that what was truly and properly the happy life was not here below, but was to be found in that which was called, according to His own words, the “coming world;” whereas in what is called the “present world” life is a calamity, or at least the first and greatest struggle of the soul.55


Chap. XLIII.

Celsus next addresses to us the following remark: “You will not, I suppose, say of him, that, after failing to gain over those who were in this world, he went to Hades to gain over those who were there.” But whether he like it or not, we assert that not only while Jesus was in the body did He win over not a few persons merely, but so great a number, that a conspiracy was formed against Him on account of the multitude of His followers; but also, that when He became a soul, without the covering of the body, He dwelt among those souls which were without bodily covering, converting such of them as were willing to Himself, or those whom He saw, for reasons known to Him alone, to be better adapted to such a course.56


Chap. XLIV.

Celsus in the next place says, with indescribable silliness: “If, after inventing defences which are absurd, and by which ye were ridiculously deluded, ye imagine that you really make a good defence, what prevents you from regarding those other individuals who have been condemned, and have died a miserable death, as greater and more divine messengers of heaven (than Jesus)?” Now, that manifestly and clearly there is no similarity between Jesus, who suffered what is described, and those who have died a wretched death on account of their sorcery, or whatever else be the charge against them, is patent to every one. For no one can point to any acts of a sorcerer which turned away souls from the practice of the many sins which prevail among men, and from the flood of wickedness (in the world).57 But since this Jew of Celsus compares Him to robbers, and says that “any similarly shameless fellow might be able to say regarding even a robber and murderer whom punishment had overtaken, that such an one was not a robber, but a god, because he predicted to his fellow-robbers that he would suffer such punishment as he actually did suffer,” it might, in the first place, be answered, that it is not because He predicted that He would suffer such things that we entertain those opinions regarding Jesus which lead us to have confidence in Him, as one who has come down to us from God. And, in the second place, we assert that this very comparison58 has been somehow foretold in the Gospels; since God was numbered with the transgressors by wicked men, who desired rather a “murderer” (one who for sedition and murder had been cast into prison) to be released unto them, and Jesus to be crucified, and who crucified Him between two robbers. Jesus, indeed, is ever crucified with robbers among His genuine disciples and witnesses to the truth, and suffers the same condemnation which they do among men. And we say, that if those persons have any resemblance to robbers, who on account of their piety towards God suffer all kinds of injury and death, that they may keep it pure and unstained, according to the teaching of Jesus, then it is clear also that Jesus, the author of such teaching, is with good reason compared by Celsus to the captain of a band of robbers. But neither was He who died for the common good of mankind, nor they who suffered because of their religion, and alone of all men were persecuted because of what appeared to them the right way of honouring God, put to death in accordance with justice, nor was Jesus persecuted without the charge of impiety being incurred by His persecutors.


Chap. XLV.

But observe the superficial nature of his argument respecting the former disciples of Jesus, in which he says: “In the next place, those who were his associates while alive, and who listened to his voice, and enjoyed his instructions as their teacher, on seeing him subjected to punishment and death, neither died with him, nor for him, nor were even induced to regard punishment with contempt, but denied even that they were his disciples, whereas now ye die along with him.” And here he believes the sin which was committed by the disciples while they were yet beginners and imperfect, and which is recorded in the Gospels, to have been actually committed, in order that he may have matter of accusation against the Gospel; but their upright conduct after their transgression, when they behaved with courage before the Jews, and suffered countless cruelties at their hands, and at last suffered death for the doctrine of Jesus, he passes by in silence. For he would neither hear the words of Jesus, when He predicted to Peter, “When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands,” (Joh_21:18, Joh_21:19) etc., to which the Scripture adds, “This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God;” nor how James the brother of John – an apostle, the brother of an apostle – was slain with the sword by Herod for the doctrine of Christ; nor even the many instances of boldness displayed by Peter and the other apostles because of the Gospel, and “how they went forth from the presence of the Sanhedrin after being scourged, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name,” (Act_5:41) and so surpassing many of the instances related by the Greeks of the fortitude and courage of their philosophers. From the very beginning, then, this was inculcated as a precept of Jesus among His hearers, which taught men to despise the life which is eagerly sought after by the multitude, but to be earnest in living the life which resembles that of God.


Chap. XLVI.

But how can this Jew of Celsus escape the charge of falsehood, when he says that Jesus, “when on earth, gained over to himself only ten sailors and tax-gatherers of the most worthless character, and not even the whole of these?” Now it is certain that the Jews themselves would admit that He drew over not ten persons merely, nor a hundred, nor a thousand, but on one occasion five thousand at once, and on another four thousand; and that He attracted them to such a degree that they followed Him even into the deserts, which alone could contain the assembled multitude of those who believed in God through Jesus, and where He not only addressed to them discourses, but also manifested to them His works. And now, through his tautology, he compels us also to be tautological, since we are careful to guard against being supposed to pass over any of the charges advanced by him; and therefore, in reference to the matter before us following the order of his treatise as we have it, be says: “Is it not the height of absurdity to maintain, that if, while he himself was alive, he won over not a single person to his views, after his death any who wish are able to gain over such a multitude of individuals?” Whereas he ought to have said, in consistency with truth, that if, after His death, not simply those who will, but they who have the will and the power, can gain over so many proselytes, how much more consonant to reason is it, that while He was alive He should, through the greater power of His words and deeds, have won over to Himself manifold greater numbers of adherents?


Chap. XLVII.

He represents, moreover, a statement of his own as if it were an answer to one of his questions, in which be asks: “By what train of argument were you led to regard him as the Son of God?” For he makes us answer that “we were won over to him, because59 we know that his punishment was undergone to bring about the destruction Of the father of evil.” Now we were won over to His doctrine by innumerable other considerations, of which we have stated only the smallest part in the preceding pages; but, if God permit, we shall continue to enumerate them, not only while dealing with the so-called True Discourse of Celsus, but also on many other occasions. And, as if we said that we consider Him to be the Son of God because He suffered punishment, he asks: “What then? have not many others, too, been punished, and that not less disgracefully?” And here Celsus acts like the most contemptible enemies of the Gospel, and like those who imagine that it follows as a consequence from our history of the crucified Jesus, that we should worship those who have undergone crucifixion!



Celsus, moreover, unable to resist the miracles which Jesus is recorded to have performed, has already on several occasions spoken of them slanderously as works of sorcery; and we also on several occasions have, to the best of our ability, replied to his statements. And now he represents us as saying that “we deemed Jesus to be the Son of God, because he healed the lame and the blind.” And he adds: “Moreover, as you assert, he raised the dead.” That He healed the lame and the blind, and that therefore we hold Him to be the Christ and the Son of God, is manifest to us from what is contained in the prophecies: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap as an hart.” (cf. Isa_35:5, Isa_35:6) And that He also raised the dead, and that it is no fiction of those who composed the Gospels, is shown by this, that if it had been a fiction, many individuals would have been represented as having risen from the dead, and these, too, such as had been many years in their graves. But as it is no fiction, they are very easily counted of whom this is related to have happened; viz., the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue (of whom I know not why He said, “She is not dead, but sleepeth,” stating regarding her something which does not apply to all who die); and the only son of the widow, on whom He took compassion and raised him up, making the bearers of the corpse to stand still; and the third instance, that of Lazarus, who had been four days in the grave. Now, regarding these cases we would say to all persons of candid mind, and especially to the Jew, that as there were many lepers in the days of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was healed save Naaman the Syrian, and many widows in the days of Elijah the prophet, to none of whom was Elijah sent save to Sarepta in Sidonia (for the widow there had been deemed worthy by a divine decree of the miracle which was wrought by the prophet in the matter of the bread); so also there were many dead in the days of Jesus, but those only rose from the grave whom the Logos knew to be fitted for a resurrection, in order that the works done by the Lord might not be merely symbols of certain things, but that by the very acts themselves He might gain over many to the marvellous doctrine of the Gospel. I would say, moreover, that, agreeably to the promise of Jesus, His disciples performed even greater works than these miracles of Jesus, which were perceptible only to the senses.60 For the eyes of those who are blind in soul are ever opened; and the ears of those who were deaf to virtuous words, listen readily to the doctrine of God, and of the blessed life with Him; and many, too, who were lame in the feet of the “inner man,” as Scripture calls it, having now been healed by the word, do not simply leap, but leap as the hart, which is an animal hostile to serpents, and stronger than all the poison of vipers. And these lame who have been healed, receive from Jesus power to trample, with those feet in which they were formerly lame, upon the serpents and scorpions of wickedness, and generally upon all the power of the enemy; and though they tread upon it, they sustain no injury, for they also have become stronger than the poison of all evil and of demons.


Chap. XLIX.

Jesus, accordingly, in turning away the minds of His disciples, not merely from giving heed to sorcerers in general, and those who profess in any other manner to work miracles – for His disciples did not need to be so warned – but from such as gave themselves out as the Christ of God, and who tried by certain apparent61 miracles to gain over to them the disciples of Jesus, said in a certain passage: “Then, if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert, go not forth; behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.” (Mat_24:23-27) And in another passage: “Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Thy name, and by Thy name have cast out demons, and done many wonderful works? And then will I say unto them, Depart from Me, because ye are workers of iniquity.” (cf. Mat_7:22, Mat_7:23, with Luk_13:26, Luk_13:27) But Celsus, wishing to assimilate the miracles of Jesus to the works of human sorcery, says in express terms as follows: “O light and truth! he distinctly declares, with his own voice, as ye yourselves have recorded, that there will come to you even others, employing miracles of a similar kind, who are wicked men, and sorcerers; and he calls him who makes use of such devices, one Satan. So that Jesus himself does not deny that these works at least are not at all divine, but are the acts of wicked men; and being compelled by the force of truth, he at the same time not only laid open the doings of others, but convicted himself of the same acts. Is it not, then, a miserable inference, to conclude from the same works that the one is God and the other sorcerers? Why ought the others, because of these acts, to be accounted wicked rather than this man, seeing they have him as their witness against himself? For he has himself acknowledged that these are not the works of a divine nature, but the inventions of certain deceivers, and of thoroughly wicked men.” Observe, now, whether Celsus is not clearly convicted of slandering the Gospel by such statements, since what Jesus says regarding those who are to work signs and wonders is different from what this Jew of Celsus alleges it to be. For if Jesus had simply told His disciples to be on their guard against those who professed to work miracles, without declaring what they would give themselves out to be, then perhaps there would have been some ground for his suspicion. But since those against whom Jesus would have us to be on our guard give themselves out as the Christ – which is not a claim put forth by sorcerers – and since He says that even some who lead wicked lives will perform miracles in the name of Jesus, and expel demons out of men, sorcery in the case of these individuals, or any suspicion of such, is rather, if we may so speak, altogether banished, and the divinity of Christ established, as well as the divine missions62 of His disciples; seeing that it is possible that one who makes use of His name, and who is wrought upon by some power, in some way unknown, to make the pretence that he is the Christ, should seem to perform miracles like those of Jesus, while others through His name should do works resembling those of His genuine disciples.

Paul, moreover, in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, shows in what manner there will one day be revealed “the man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2Th_2:3, 2Th_2:4) And again he says to the Thessalonians: “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way: and then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him, whose cunning is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” (2Th_2:6-10) And in assigning the reason why the man of sin is permitted to continue in existence, he says: “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Th_2:10-12) Let any one now say whether any of the statements in the Gospel, or in the writings of the apostle, could give occasion for the suspicion that there is therein contained any prediction of sorcery. Any one, moreover, who likes may find the prophecy in Daniel respecting antichrist. (cf. Dan_7:26) But Celsus falsities the words of Jesus, since He did not say that others would come working similar miracles to Himself, but who are wicked men and sorcerers, although Celsus asserts that He uttered such words. For as the power of the Egyptian magicians was not similar to the divinely-bestowed grace of Moses, but the issue clearly proved that the acts of the former were the effect of magic, while those of Moses were wrought by divine power; so the proceedings of the antichrists, and of those who feign that they can work miracles as being the disciples of Christ, are said to be lying signs and wonders, prevailing with all deceivableness of unrighteousness among them that perish; whereas the works of Christ and His disciples had for their fruit, not deceit, but the salvation of human souls. And who would rationally maintain that an improved moral life, which daily lessened the number of a man’s offences, could proceed from a system of deceit?


Chap. LI.

Celsus, indeed, evinced a slight knowledge of Scripture when he made Jesus say, that it is “a certain Satan who contrives such devices;” although he begs the question63 when he asserts that “Jesus did not deny that these works have in them nothing of divinity, but proceed from wicked men,” for he makes things which differ in kind to be the same. Now, as a wolf is not of the same species as a dog, although it may appear to have some resemblance in the figure of its body and in its voice, nor a common wood-pigeon64 the same as a dove,65 so there is no resemblance between what is done by the power of God and what is the effect of sorcery. And we might further say, in answer to the calumnies of Celsus, Are those to be regarded as miracles which are wrought through sorcery by wicked demons, but those not which are performed by a nature that is holy and divine? and does human life endure the worse, but never receive the better? Now it appears to me that we must lay it down as a general principle, that as, wherever anything that is evil would make itself to be of the same nature with the good, there must by all means be something that is good opposed to the evil; so also, in opposition to those things which are brought about by sorcery, there must also of necessity be some things in human life which are the result of divine power. And it follows from the same, that we must either annihilate both, and assert that neither exists, or, assuming the one, and particularly the evil, admit also the reality of the good. Now, if one were to lay it down that works are wrought by means of sorcery, but would not grant that there are also works which are the product of divine power, he would seem to me to resemble him who should admit the existence of sophisms and plausible arguments, which have the appearance of establishing the truth, although really undermining it, while denying that truth had anywhere a home among men, or a dialectic which differed from sophistry. But if we once admit that it is consistent with the existence of magic and sorcery (which derive their power from evil demons, who are spell-bound by elaborate incantations, and become subject to sorcerers) that some works must be found among men which proceed from a power that is divine, why shall we not test those who profess to perform them by their lives and morals, and the consequences of their miracles, viz., whether they tend to the injury of men or to the reformation of conduct? What minister of evil demons, e.g., can do such things? and by means of what incantations and magic arts? And who, on the other hand, is it that, having his soul and his spirit, and I imagine also his body, in a pure and holy state, receives a divine spirit, and performs such works in order to benefit men, and to lead them to believe on the true God? But if we must once investigate (without being carded away by the miracles themselves) who it is that performs them by help of a good, and who by help of an evil power, so that we may neither slander all without discrimination, nor yet admire and accept all as divine, will it not be manifest, from what occurred in the times of Moses and Jesus, when entire nations were established in consequence of their miracles, that these men wrought by means of divine power what they are recorded to have performed? For wickedness and sorcery would not have led a whole nation to rise not only above idols and images erected by men, but also above all created things, and to ascend to the uncreated origin of the God of the universe.





32 ἁλῶν καὶ τραπέζης.

33 Archilochus.

34 Guietus would expunge these words as “inept.”

35 καὶ ταῦτα δὲ, πολλὴν ἔχοντα διήγησιν ἀπὸ σοφίας Θεοῦ οἷς ὁ Παῦλος ὠνόμασε τελείοις εὐλόγως παραδοθησομένην.

36 The original here is probably corrupt: Ὅτι ἐχρῆν αὐτὸν (ὥς φησι) φειδόμενον ἀνθρόπων αὐτὰς ἐκθέσθαι τὰς προφητείας, καὶ συναγορεύσαντα ταῖς πιθανότησιν αὐτῶν, τὴν φαινομένην αὐτῶν ἀνατροπὴν τῆς χρήσεως τῶν προφητικῶν ἐθέσθαι. For φειδόμενον Boherellus would read κηδόμενον, and τὴν φαινομένην αὐτῷ ἀνατροπήν.

37 ὄλεθρον.

38 [In fulfillment of the great plan foreshadowed in Daniel, and promised by Haggai (Hag_2:7), where I adhere to the Anglican version and the Vulgate.]

39 ὦ οὗτος.

40 [Testimony not to be scorned.]

41 On Phlegon, cf. note in Migne, pp. 823, 854. [See also vol. 3. Elucidation V. p. 58.]

42 Eurip., Bacchae, 498 (ed. Dindorf).

43 Cf. Euseb., Hist. Eccles. bk. ii. c. vii.

44 Cf. Iliad, v. 340.

45 χανδόν.

46 ὦ πιστότατοι.

47 τὸν Χριστόν.

48 τὰ ἀνθρώπων.

49 μαρτύρασθαι περὶ τῶν πρακτέων.

50 παραδόξως.

51 τῆς τῶν λόγων αὐτοῦ ἀκολουθίας.

52 ἐπιφανείας.

53 τὴν περὶ αὐτοῦ ἀδιάστροφον ἔννοιαν.

54 πόνον.

55 ἀγῶνα τὸν πρῶτον καὶ μέγιστον τῆς ψυχῆς.

56 [See Dean Plumptre’s The Spirits in Prison: Studies on the Life after Death, p. 85. S.]

57 τῆς κατὰ τὴν κακίαν χύσεως.

58 καὶ ταῦτα.

59 The reading in the text is εἰ καὶ ἴσμεν; for which both Bohereau and De la Rue propose ἐπεὶ ἴσμευ, which has been adopted in the translation: cf. ἐπεὶ ἐκολάσθη, infra.

60 ὧν Ἰησοῦς αἰσθητῶν.

61 φαντασιῶν.

62 θειότης, lit. divinity.

63 συναρπάζει τὸν λόγον.

64 φάσσα.

65 περιστερά.

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

Book II. (C0nt.)

Chap. LII.

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?


Chap. LIII.

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.


Chap. LIV.

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.


Chap. LV.

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.”


Chap. LVI.

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.


Chap. LVII.

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.


Chap. LVIII.

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?”


Chap. LIX.

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!”


Chap. LX.

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. 


Chap. LXI.

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)


Chap. LXII.

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.


Chap. LXIII.

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.


Chap. LXIV.

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.


Chap. LXV.

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.


Chap. LXVI.

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


Chap. LXVII.

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)


Chap. LXIX.

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?


Chap. LXX.

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?”


Chap. LXXI.

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 


Chap. LXXII.

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.


Chap. LXXIV.

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.


Chap. LXXV.

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.


Chap. LXXVI.

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.

76 τερατείας.

77 τῶς οἴονται τὸ παραπλήσιον πλάσασθαι λέγειν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἱστορουμένοις, etc.

78 καταβεβηκέναι βιᾷ. Bohereau proposes the omission of βιᾷ.

79 ἐτερατεύσατο.

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.]

82 τερατευομένοις.

83 τερατείαν.

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.

87 ὕπαρ.

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).

94 διηνεκεῶς.

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.

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

Book II. (C0nt.)


After this the Jew remarks, manifestly in accordance with the Jewish belief: “We certainly hope that there will be a bodily resurrection, and that we shall enjoy an eternal life; and the example and archetype of this will be He who is sent to us, and who will show that nothing is impossible with God.” We do not know, indeed, whether the Jew would say of the expected I Christ, that He exhibits in Himself an example of the resurrection; but let it be supposed that he both thinks and says so. We shall give this answer, then, to him who has told us that he drew his information from our own writings: “Did you read those writings, friend, in which you think you discover matter of accusation against us, and not find there the resurrection of Jesus, and the declaration that He was the first-born from the dead? Or because you will not allow such things to have been recorded, were they not actually recorded?” But as the Jew still admits the resurrection of the body, I do not consider the present a suitable time to discuss the subject with one who both believes and says that there is a bodily resurrection, whether he has an articulate115 understanding of such a topic, and is able to plead well on its behalf,116 or not, but has only given his assent to it as being of a legendary character.117 Let the above, then, be our reply to this Jew of Celsus. And when he adds, “Where, then, is he, that we may see him and believe upon him?” we answer: Where is He now who spoke in the prophecies, and who wrought miracles, that we may see and believe that He is part of God? Are you to be allowed to meet the objection, that God does not perpetually show Himself to the Hebrew nation, while we are not to be permitted the same defence with regard to Jesus, who has both once risen Himself, and led His disciples to believe in His resurrection, and so thoroughly persuaded them of its truth, that they show to all men by their sufferings how they are able to laugh at all the troubles of life, beholding the life eternal and the resurrection clearly demonstrated to them both in word and deed?



The Jew continues: “Did Jesus come into the world for this purpose, that we should not believe him?” To which we immediately answer, that He did not come with the object of producing incredulity among the Jews; but knowing beforehand that such would be the result, He foretold it, and made use of their unbelief for the calling of the Gentiles. For through their sin salvation came to the Gentiles, respecting whom the Christ who speaks in the prophecies says, “A people whom I did not know became subject to Me: they were obedient to the hearing of My ear;” (cf. 2Sa_22:44, 2Sa_22:45) and, “I was found of them who sought Me not; I became manifest to those who inquired not after Me.” (cf. Isa_65:1) It is certain, moreover, that the Jews were punished even in this present life, after treating Jesus in the manner in which they did. And let the Jews assert what they will when we charge them with guilt, and say, “Is not the providence and goodness of God most wonderfully displayed in your punishment, and in your being deprived of Jerusalem, and of the sanctuary, and of your splendid worship?” For whatever they may say in reply with respect to the providence of God, we shall be able more effectually to answer it by remarking, that the providence of God was wonderfully manifested in using the transgression of that people for the purpose of calling into the kingdom of God, through Jesus Christ, those from among the Gentiles who were strangers to the covenant and aliens to the promises. And these things were foretold by the prophets, who said that, on account of the transgressions of the Hebrew nation, God would make choice, not of a nation, but of individuals chosen from all lands;118 and, having selected the foolish things of the world, would cause an ignorant nation to become acquainted with the divine teaching, the kingdom of God being taken from the one and given to the other. And out of a larger number it is sufficient on the present occasion to adduce the prediction from the song in Deuteronomy regarding the calling of the Gentiles, which is as follows, being spoken in the person of the Lord “They have moved Me to jealousy with those who are not gods; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols: and I will move them to jealousy with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (cf. Deu_32:21)


Chap. LXXIX.

The conclusion of all these arguments regarding Jesus is thus stated by the Jew: “He was therefore a man, and of such a nature, as the truth itself proves, and reason demonstrates him to be.” I do not know, however, whether a man who had the courage to spread throughout the entire world his doctrine of religious worship and teaching,119 could accomplish what he wished without the divine assistance, and could rise superior to all who withstood the progress of his doctrine – kings and rulers, and the Roman senate, and governors in all places, and the common people. And how could the nature of a man possessed of no inherent excellence convert so vast a multitude? For it would not be wonderful if it were only the wise who were so convened; but it is the most irrational of men, and those devoted to their passions, and who, by reason of their irrationality, change with the greater difficulty so as to adopt a more temperate course of life. And yet it is because Christ was the power of God and the wisdom of the Father that He accomplished, and still accomplishes, such results, although neither the Jews nor Greeks who disbelieve His word will so admit. And therefore we shall not cease to believe in God, according to the precepts of Jesus Christ, and to seek to convert those who are blind on the subject of religion, although it is they who are truly blind themselves that charge us with blindness: and they, whether Jews or Greeks, who lead astray those that follow them, accuse us of seducing men – a good seduction, truly! – that they may become temperate instead of dissolute, or at least may make advances to temperance; may become just instead of unjust, or at least may tend to become so; prudent instead of foolish, or be on the way to become such; and instead of cowardice, meanness, and timidity, may exhibit the virtues of fortitude and courage, especially displayed in the struggles undergone for the sake of their religion towards God, the Creator of all things. Jesus Christ therefore came announced beforehand, not by one prophet, but by all; and it was a proof of the ignorance of Celsus, to represent a Jew as saying that one prophet only had predicted the advent of Christ. But as this Jew of Celsus, after being thus introduced, asserting that these things were indeed in conformity with his own law, has somewhere here ended his discourse, with a mention of other matters not worthy of remembrance, I too shall here terminate this second book of my answer to his treatise. But if God permit, and the power of Christ abide in my soul, I shall endeavour in the third book to deal with the subsequent statements of Celsus.





115 εἶτε διαρθροῦντα τὸ τοιοῦτον παρ ἑαυτῷ.

116 καὶ δυνάμενον πρεσβεῦσαι περὶ τοῦ λόγου καλῶς.

117 ἀλλὰ μυθικώτερον συγκατατιθέμενον τῷ λόγῳ.

118 οὐχὶ ἔθνος, ἀλλὰ λογάδας πανταχόθεν.

119 τὴν κατ αὐτὸν θεοσέβειαν καὶ διδασκαλίαν.

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

Book III.

Chap. I.

In the first book of our answer to the work of Celsus, who had boastfully entitled the treatise which he had composed against us A True Discourse, we have gone through, as you enjoined, my faithful Ambrosius, to the best of our ability, his preface, and the parts immediately following it, testing each one of his assertions as we went along, until we finished with the tirade1 of this Jew of his, feigned to have been delivered against Jesus. And in the second book we met, as we best could, all the charges contained in the invective1 of the said Jew, which were levelled at us who are believers in God through Christ; and now we enter upon this third division of our discourse, in which our object is to refute the allegations which he makes in his own person.

He gives it as his opinion, that “the controversy between Jews and Christians is a most foolish one,” and asserts that “the discussions which we have with each other regarding Christ differ in no respect from what is called in the proverb, ‘a fight about the shadow of an ass;’”2 and thinks that “there is nothing of importance3 in the investigations of the Jews and Christians: for both believe that it was predicted by the Divine Spirit that one was to come as a Saviour to the human race, but do not yet agree on the point whether the person predicted has actually come or not.” For we Christians, indeed, have believed in Jesus, as He who came according to the predictions of the prophets. But the majority of the Jews are so far from believing in Him, that those of them who lived at the time of His coming conspired against Him; and those of the present day, approving of what the Jews of former times dared to do against Him, speak evil of Him, asserting that it was by means of sorcery4 that he passed himself off for Him who was predicted by the prophets as the One who was to come, and who was called, agreeably to the traditions of the Jews,5 the Christ.


Chap. II.

But let Celsus, and those who assent to his charges, tell us whether it is at all like “an ass’s shadow,” that the Jewish prophets should have predicted the birth-place of Him who was to be the ruler of those who had lived righteous lives, and who are called the “heritage” of God;6 and that Emmanuel should be conceived by a virgin; and that such signs and wonders should be performed by Him who was the subject of prophecy; and that His word should have such speedy course, that the voice of His apostles should go forth into all the earth; and that He should undergo certain sufferings after His condemnation by the Jews; and that He should rise again from the dead. For was it by chance7 that the prophets made these announcements, with no persuasion of the truth in their minds,8 moving them not only to speak, but to deem their announcements worthy of being committed to writing? And did so great a nation as that of the Jews, who had long ago received a country of their own wherein to dwell, recognise certain men as prophets, and reject others as utterers of false predictions, without any conviction of the soundness of the distinction?9 And was there no motive which induced them to class with the books of Moses, which were held as sacred, the words of those persons who were afterwards deemed to be prophets? And can those who charge the Jews and Christians with folly, show us how the Jewish nation could have continued to subsist, had there existed among them no promise of the knowledge of future events? and how, while each of the surrounding nations believed, agreeably to their ancient institutions, that they received oracles and predictions from those whom they accounted gods, this people alone, who were taught to view with contempt all those who were considered gods by the heathen, as not being gods, but demons, according to the declaration of the prophets, “For all the gods of the nations are demons,”10 had among them no one who professed to be a prophet, and who could restrain such as, from a desire to know the future, were ready to desert11 to the demons12 of other nations? Judge, then, whether it were not a necessity, that as the whole nation had been taught to despise the deities of other lands, they should have had an abundance of prophets, who made known events which were of far greater importance in themselves,13 and which surpassed the oracles of all other countries.


Chap. III.

In the next place, miracles were performed in all countries, or at least in many of them, as Celsus himself admits, instancing the case of Aesculapius, who conferred benefits on many, and who foretold future events to entire cities, which were dedicated to him, such as Tricca, and Epidaurus, and Cos, and Pergamus; and along with Aesculapius he mentions Aristeas of Proconnesus, and a certain Clazomenian, and Cleomedes of Astypalaea. But among the Jews alone, who say they are dedicated to the God of all things, there was wrought no miracle or sign which might help to confirm their faith in the Creator of all things, and strengthen their hope of another and better life! But how can they imagine such a state of things? For they would immediately have gone over to the worship of those demons which gave oracles and performed cures, and deserted the God who was believed, as far as words went,14 to assist them, but who never manifested to them His visible presence. But if this result has not taken place, and if, on the contrary, they have suffered countless calamities rather than renounce Judaism and their law, and have been cruelly treated, at one time in Assyria, at another in Persia, and at another under Antiochus, is it not in keeping with the probabilities of the case15 for those to suppose who do not yield their belief to their miraculous histories and prophecies, that the events in question could not be inventions, but that a certain divine Spirit being in the holy souls of the prophets, as of men who underwent any labour for the cause of virtue, did move them to prophesy some things relating to their contemporaries, and others to their posterity, but chiefly regarding a certain personage who was to come as a Saviour to the human race?


Chap. IV.

And if the above be the state of the case, how do Jews and Christians search after “the shadow of an ass,” in seeking to ascertain from those prophecies which they believe in common, whether He who was foretold has come, or has not yet arrived, and is still an object of expectation? But even suppose16 it be granted to Celsus that it was not Jesus who was announced by the prophets, then, even on such a hypothesis, the investigation of the sense of the prophetic writings is no search after “the shadow of an ass,” if He who was spoken of can be clearly pointed out, and it can be shown both what sort of person He was predicted to be, and what He was to do, and, if possible, when He was to arrive. But in the preceding pages we have already spoken on the point of Jesus being the individual who was foretold to be the Christ, quoting a few prophecies out of a larger number. Neither Jews nor Christians, then, are wrong in assuming that the prophets spoke under divine influence;17 but they are in error who form erroneous opinions respecting Him who was expected by the prophets to come, and whose person and character were made known in their “true discourses.”


Chap. V.

Immediately after these points, Celsus, imagining that the Jews are Egyptians by descent, and had abandoned Egypt, after revolting against the Egyptian state, and despising the customs of that people in matters of worship, says that “they suffered from the adherents of Jesus, who believed in Him as the Christ, the same treatment which they had inflicted upon the Egyptians; and that the cause which led to the new state of things18 in either instance was rebellion against the state.” Now let us observe what Celsus has here done. The ancient Egyptians, after inflicting many cruelties upon the Hebrew race, who had settled in Egypt owing to a famine which had broken out in Judea, suffered, in consequence of their injustice to strangers and suppliants, that punishment which divine Providence had decreed was to fall on the whole nation for having combined against an entire people, who had been their guests, and who had done them no harm; and after being smitten by plagues from God, they allowed them, with difficulty, and after a brief period, to go wherever they liked, as being unjustly detained in slavery. Because, then, they were a selfish people, who honoured those who were in any degree related to them far more than they did strangers of better lives, there is not an accusation which they have omitted to bring against Moses and the Hebrews, – not altogether denying, indeed, the miracles and wonders done by him, but alleging that they were wrought by sorcery, and not by divine power. Moses, however, not as a magician, but as a devout man, and one devoted to the God of all things, and a partaker in the divine Spirit, both enacted laws for the Hebrews, according to the suggestions of the Divinity, and recorded events as they happened with perfect fidelity.


Chap. VI.

Celsus, therefore, not investigating in a spirit of impartiality the facts, which are related by the Egyptians in one way, and by the Hebrews in another, but being bewitched, as it were,19 in favour of the former, accepted as true the statements of those who had oppressed the strangers, and declared that the Hebrews, who had been unjustly treated, had departed from Egypt after revolting against the Egyptians, – not observing how impossible it was for so great a multitude of rebellious Egyptians to become a nation, which, dating its origin from the said revolt, should change its language at the time of its rebellion, so that those who up to that time made use of the Egyptian tongue, should completely adopt, all at once, the language of the Hebrews! Let it be granted, however, according to his supposition, that on abandoning Egypt they did conceive a hatred also of their mother tongue,20 how did it happen that after so doing they did not rather adopt the Syrian or Phoenician language, instead of preferring the Hebrew, which is different from both? But reason seems to me to demonstrate that the statement is false, which makes those who were Egyptians by race to have revolted against Egyptians, and to have left the country, and to have proceeded to Palestine, and occupied the land now called Judea. For Hebrew was the language of their fathers before their descent into Egypt; and the Hebrew letters, employed by Moses in writing those five books which are deemed sacred by the Jews, were different from those of the Egyptians.


Chap. VII.

In like manner, as the statement is false “that the Hebrews, being (originally) Egyptians, dated the commencement (of their political existence) from the time of their rebellion,” so also is this, “that in the days of Jesus others who were Jews rebelled against the Jewish state, and became His followers;” for neither Celsus nor they who think with him are able to point out any act on the part of Christians which savours of rebellion. And yet, if a revolt had led to the formation of the Christian commonwealth, so that it derived its existence in this way from that of the Jews, who were permitted to take up arms in defence of the members of their families, and to slay their enemies, the Christian Lawgiver would not have altogether forbidden the putting of men to death; and yet He nowhere teaches that it is right for His own disciples to offer violence to any one, however wicked. For He did not deem it in keeping with such laws as His, which were derived from a divine source, to allow the killing of any individual whatever. Nor would the Christians, had they owed their origin to a rebellion, have adopted laws of so exceedingly mild a character as not to allow them, when it was their fate to be slain as sheep, on any occasion to resist their persecutors. And truly, if we look a little deeper into things, we may say regarding the exodus from Egypt., that it is a miracle if a whole nation at once adopted the language called Hebrew, as if it had been a gift from heaven, when one of their own prophets said, “As they went forth from Egypt, they heard a language which they did not understand.” (cf. Psa_81:5)


Chap. VIII.

In the following way, also, we may conclude that they who came out of Egypt with Moses were not Egyptians; for if they had been Egyptians, their names also would be Egyptian, because in every language the designations (of persons and things) are kindred to the language.21 But if it is certain, from the names being Hebrew, that the people were not Egyptians, – and the Scriptures are full of Hebrew names, and these bestowed, too, upon their children while they were in Egypt, – it is clear that the Egyptian account is false, which asserts that they were Egyptians, and went forth from Egypt with Moses. Now it is absolutely certain22 that, being descended, as the Mosaic history records, from Hebrew ancestors, they employed a language from which they also took the names which they conferred upon their children. But with regard to the Christians, because they were taught not to avenge themselves upon their enemies (and have thus observed laws of a mild and philanthropic character); and because they would not, although able, have made war even if they had received authority to do so, – they have obtained this reward from God, that He has always warred in their behalf, and on certain occasions has restrained those who rose up against them and desired to destroy them. For in order to remind others, that by seeing a few engaged in a struggle for their religion, they also might be better fitted to despise death, some, on special occasions, and these individuals who can be easily numbered, have endured death for the sake of Christianity, – God not permitting the whole nation to be exterminated, but desiring that it should continue, and that the whole world should be filled with this salutary and religious doctrine.23 And again, on the other hand, that those who were of weaker minds might recover their courage and rise superior to the thought of death, God interposed His providence on behalf of believers, dispersing by an act of His will alone all the conspiracies formed against them; so that neither kings, nor rulers, nor the populace, might be able to rage against them beyond a certain point. Such, then, is our answer to the assertions of Celsus, “that a revolt was the original commencement of the ancient Jewish state, and subsequently of Christianity.”


Chap. IX.

But since he is manifestly guilty of falsehood in the statements which follow, let us examine his assertion when he says, “If all men wished to become Christians, the latter would not desire such a result.” Now that the above statement is false is clear from this, that Christians do not neglect, as far as in them lies, to take measures to disseminate their doctrine throughout the whole world. Some of them, accordingly, have made it their business to itinerate not only through cities, but even villages and country houses,24 that they might make converts to God. And no one would maintain that they did this for the sake of gain, when sometimes they would not accept even necessary sustenance; or if at any time they were pressed by a necessity of this sort, were contented with the mere supply of their wants, although many were willing to share (their abundance) with them, and to bestow help upon them far above their need. At the present day, indeed, when, owing to the multitude of Christian believers, not only rich men, but persons of rank, and delicate and high-born ladies, receive the teachers of Christianity, some perhaps will dare to say that it is for the sake of a little glory25 that certain individuals assume the office of Christian instructors. It is impossible, however, rationally to entertain such a suspicion with respect to Christianity in its beginnings, when the danger incurred, especially by its teachers, was great; while at the present day the discredit attaching to it among the rest of mankind is greater than any supposed honour enjoyed among those who hold the same belief, especially when such honour is not shared by all. It is false, then, from the very nature of the case, to say that “if all men wished to become Christians, the latter would not desire such a result.”


Chap. X.

But observe what he alleges as a proof of his statement: “Christians at first were few in number, and held the same opinions; but when they grew to be a great multitude, they were divided and separated, each wishing to have his own individual party:26 for this was their object from the beginning.” That Christians at first were few in number, in comparison with the multitudes who subsequently became Christian, is undoubted; and yet, all things considered, they were not so very few.27 For what stirred up the envy of the Jews against Jesus, and aroused them to conspire against Him, was the great number of those who followed Him into the wilderness, – five thousand men on one occasion, and four thousand on another, having attended Him thither, without including the women and children. For such was the charm28 of Jesus’ words, that not only were men willing to follow Him to the wilderness, but women also, forgetting29 the weakness of their sex and a regard for outward propriety30 in thus following their Teacher into desert places. Children, too, who are altogether unaffected by such emotions,31 either following their parents, or perhaps attracted also by His divinity, in order that it might be implanted within them, became His followers along with their parents. But let it be granted that Christians were few in number at the beginning, how does that help to prove that Christians would be unwilling to make all men believe the doctrine of the Gospel?


Chap. XI.

He says, in addition, that “all the Christians were of one mind,” not observing, even in this particular, that from the beginning there were differences of opinion among believers regarding the meaning32 of the books held to be divine. At all events, while the apostles were still preaching, and while eye-witnesses of (the works of) Jesus were still teaching His doctrine, there was no small discussion among the converts from Judaism regarding Gentile believers, on the point whether they ought to observe Jewish customs, or should reject the burden of clean and unclean meats, as not being obligatory on those who had abandoned their ancestral Gentile customs, and had become believers in Jesus. Nay, even in the Epistles of Paul, who was contemporary with those who had seen Jesus, certain particulars are found mentioned as having been the subject of dispute, – viz., respecting the resurrection, (Cf. 1Co_15:12 sqq.) and whether it were already past, and the day of the Lord, whether it were nigh at hand (Cf. 2Th_2:2) or not. Nay, the very exhortation to “avoid profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing, have erred concerning the faith,” (Cf. 1Ti_6:20) is enough to show that from the very beginning, when, as Celsus imagines, believers were few in number, there were certain doctrines interpreted in different ways.33


Chap. XII.

In the next place, since he reproaches us with the existence of heresies in Christianity as being a ground of accusation against it, saying that “when Christians had greatly increased in numbers, they were divided and split up into factions, each individual desiring to have his own party;” and further, that “being thus separated through their numbers, they confute one another, still having, so to speak, one name in common, if indeed they still retain it. And this is the only thing which they are yet ashamed to abandon, while other matters are determined in different ways by the various sects.” In reply to which, we say that heresies of different kinds have never originated from any matter in which the principle involved was not important and beneficial to human life. For since the science of medicine is useful and necessary to the human race, and many are the points of dispute in it respecting the manner of curing bodies, there are found, for this reason, numerous heresies confessedly prevailing in the science of medicine among the Greeks, and also, I suppose, among those barbarous nations who profess to employ medicine. And, again, since philosophy makes a profession of the truth, and promises a knowledge of existing things with a view to the regulation of life, and endeavours to teach what is advantageous to our race, and since the investigation of these matters is attended with great differences of opinion,34 innumerable heresies have consequently sprung up in philosophy, some of which are more celebrated than others. Even Judaism itself afforded a pretext for the origination of heresies, in the different acceptation accorded to the writings of Moses and those of the prophets. So, then, seeing Christianity appeared an object of veneration to men, not to the more servile class alone, as Celsus supposes, but to many among the Greeks who were devoted to literary pursuits,35 there necessarily originated heresies, – not at all, however, as the result of faction and strife, but through the earnest desire of many literary men to become acquainted with the doctrines of Christianity. The consequence of which was, that, taking in different acceptations those discourses which were believed by all to be divine, there arose heresies, which received their names from those individuals who admired, indeed, the origin of Christianity, but who were led, in some way or other, by certain plausible reasons, to discordant views. And yet no one would act rationally in avoiding medicine because of its heresies; nor would he who aimed at that which is seemly36 entertain a hatred of philosophy, and adduce its many heresies as a pretext for his antipathy. And so neither are the sacred books of Moses and the prophets to be condemned on account of the heresies in Judaism.


Chap. XIII.

Now, if these arguments hold good, why should we not defend, in the same way, the existence of heresies in Christianity? And respecting these, Paul appears to me to speak in a very striking manner when he says, “For there must be heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1Co_6:20) For as that man is “approved” in medicine who, on account of his experience in various (medical) heresies, and his honest examination of the majority of them, has selected the preferable system, – and as the great proficient in philosophy is he who, after acquainting himself experimentally with the various views, has given in his adhesion to the best, – so I would say that the wisest Christian was he who had carefully studied the heresies both of Judaism and Christianity. Whereas he who finds fault with Christianity because of its heresies would find fault also with the teaching of Socrates, from whose school have issued many others of discordant views. Nay, the opinions of Plato might be chargeable with error, on account of Aristotle’s having separated from his school, and founded a new one, – on which subject we have remarked in the preceding book. But it appears to me that Celsus has become acquainted with certain heresies which do not possess even the name of Jesus in common with us. Perhaps he had heard of the sects called Ophites and Cainites, or some others of a similar nature, which had departed in all points from the teaching of Jesus. And yet surely this furnishes no ground for a charge against the Christian doctrine.


Chap. XIV.

After this he continues: “Their union is the more wonderful, the more it can be shown to be based on no substantial reason. And yet rebellion is a substantial reason, as well as the advantages which accrue from it, and the fear of external enemies. Such are the causes which give stability to their faith.” To this we answer, that our union does thus rest upon a reason, or rather not upon a reason, but upon the divine working,37 so that its commencement was God’s teaching men, in the prophetical writings, to expect the advent of Christ, who was to be the Saviour of mankind. For in so far as this point is not really refuted (although it may seem to be by unbelievers), in the same proportion is the doctrine commended as the doctrine of God, and Jesus shown to be the Son of God both before and after His incarnation. I maintain, moreover, that even after His incarnation, He is always found by those who possess the acutest spiritual vision to be most God-like, and to have really come down to us from God, and to have derived His origin or subsequent development not from human wisdom, but from the manifestation38 of God within Him, who by His manifold wisdom and miracles established Judaism first, and Christianity afterwards; and the assertion that rebellion, and the advantages attending it, were the originating causes of a doctrine which has converted and improved so many men was effectually refuted.


Chap. XV.

But again, that it is not the fear of external enemies which strengthens our union, is plain from the fact that this cause, by God’s will, has already, for a considerable time, ceased to exist. And it is probable that the secure existence, so far as regards the world, enjoyed by believers at present, will come to an end, since those who calumniate Christianity in every way are again attributing the present frequency of rebellion to the multitude of believers, and to their not being persecuted by the authorities as in old times. For we have learned from the Gospel neither to relax our efforts in days of peace, and to give ourselves up to repose, nor, when the world makes war upon us, to become cowards, and apostatize from the love of the God of all things which is in Jesus Christ. And we clearly manifest the illustrious nature of our origin, and do not (as Celsus imagines) conceal it, when we impress upon the minds of our first converts a contempt for idols, and images of all kinds, and, besides this, raise their thoughts from the worship of created things instead of God, and elevate them to the universal Creator; clearly showing Him to be the subject of prophecy, both from the predictions regarding Him – of which there are many – and from those traditions which have been carefully investigated by such as are able intelligently to understand the Gospels, and the declarations of the apostles.


Chap. XVI.

“But what the legends are of every kind which we gather together, or the terrors which we invent,” as Celsus without proof asserts, he who likes may show. I know not, indeed, what he means by “inventing terrors,” unless it be our doctrine of God as Judge, and of the condemnation of men for their deeds, with the various proofs derived partly from Scripture, partly from probable reason. And yet – for truth is precious – Celsus says, at the close, “Forbid that either I, or these, or any other individual should ever reject the doctrine respecting the future punishment of the wicked and the reward of the good!” What terrors, then, if you except the doctrine of punishment, do we invent and impose upon mankind? And if he should reply that “we weave together erroneous opinions drawn from ancient sources, and trumpet them aloud, and sound them before men, as the priests of Cybele clash their cymbals in the ears of those who are being initiated in their mysteries;”39 we shall ask him in reply, “Erroneous opinions from what ancient sources?” For, whether he refers to Grecian accounts, which taught the existence of courts of justice under the earth, or Jewish, which, among other things, predicted the life that follows the present one; he will be unable to show that we who, striving to believe on grounds of reason, regulate our lives in conformity with such doctrines, have failed correctly to ascertain the truth.40


Chap. XVII.

He wishes, indeed, to compare the articles of our faith to those of the Egyptians; “among whom, as you approach their sacred edifices, are to be seen splendid enclosures, and groves, and large and beautiful gateways,41 and wonderful temples, and magnificent tents around them, and ceremonies of worship full of superstition and mystery; but when you have entered, and passed within, the object of worship is seen to be a cat, or an ape, or a crocodile, or a goat, or a dog!” Now, what is the resemblance42 between us and the splendours of Egyptian worship which are seen by those who draw near their temples? And where is the resemblance to those irrational animals which are worshipped within, after you pass through the splendid gateways? Are our prophecies, and the God of all things, and the injunctions against images,43 objects of reverence in the view of Celsus also, and Jesus Christ crucified, the analogue to the worship of the irrational animal? But if he should assert this – and I do not think that he will maintain anything else – we shall reply that we have spoken in the preceding pages at greater length in defence of those charges affecting Jesus, showing that what appeared to have happened to Him in the capacity of His human nature, was fraught with benefit to all men, and with salvation to the whole world.


Chap. XVIII.

In the next place, referring to the statements of the Egyptians, who talk loftily about irrational animals, and who assert that they are a sort of symbols of God, or anything else which their prophets, so termed, are accustomed to call them, Celsus says that “an impression is produced in the minds of those who have learned these things; that they have not been initiated in vain;”44 while with regard to the truths which are taught in our writings to those who have made progress in the study of Christianity (through that which is called by Paul the gift consisting in the “word of wisdom” through the Spirit, and in the “word of knowledge” according to the Spirit), Celsus does not seem even to have formed an idea,45 judging not only from what he has already said, but from what he subsequently adds in his attack upon the Christian system, when he asserts that Christians “repel every wise man from the doctrine of their faith, and invite only the ignorant and the vulgar;” on which assertions we shall remark in due time, when we come to the proper place.


Chap. XIX.

He says, indeed, that “we ridicule the Egyptians, although they present many by no means contemptible mysteries46 for our consideration, when they teach us that such rites are acts of worship offered to eternal ideas, and not, as the multitude think, to ephemeral animals; and that we are silly, because we introduce nothing nobler than the goats and dogs of the Egyptian worship in our narratives about Jesus.” Now to this we reply, “Good sir,47 (suppose that) you are right in eulogizing the fact that the Egyptians present to view many by no means contemptible mysteries, and obscure explanations about the animals (worshipped) among them, you nevertheless do not act consistently in accusing us as if you believed that we had nothing to state which was worthy of consideration, but that all our doctrines were contemptible and of no account, seeing we unfold48 the narratives concerning Jesus according to the ‘wisdom of the word’ to those who are ‘perfect’ in Christianity. Regarding whom, as being competent to understand the wisdom that is in Christianity, Paul says: ‘We speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who come to nought, but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this world knew.’” (1Co_2:6-8)


Chap. XX.

And we say to those who hold similar opinions to those of Celsus: “Paul then, we are to suppose, had before his mind the idea of no pre-eminent wisdom when he professed to speak wisdom among them that are perfect?” Now, as he spoke with his customary boldness when in making such a profession he said that he was possessed of no wisdom, we shall say in reply: first of all examine the Epistles of him who utters these words, and look carefully at the meaning of each expression in them – say, in those to the Ephesians, and Colossians, and Thessalonians, and Philippians, and Romans, – and show two things, both that you understand Paul’s words, and that you can demonstrate any of them to be silly or foolish. For if any one give himself to their attentive perusal, I am well assured either that he will be amazed at the understanding of the man who can clothe great ideas in common language; or if he be not amazed, he will only exhibit himself in a ridiculous light, whether he simply state the meaning of the writer as if he had comprehended it, or try to controvert and confute what he only imagined that he understood! 


Chap. XXI.

And I have not yet spoken of the observance49 of all that is written in the Gospels, each one of which contains much doctrine difficult to be understood, not merely by the multitude, but even by certain of the more intelligent, including a very profound explanation of the parables which Jesus delivered to “those without,” while reserving the exhibition of their full meaning50 for those who had passed beyond the stage of exoteric teaching, and who came to Him privately in the house. And when he comes to understand it, he will admire the reason why some are said to be “without,” and others “in the house.” And again, who would not be filled with astonishment that is able to comprehend the movements51 of Jesus; ascending at one time a mountain for the purpose of delivering certain discourses, or of performing certain miracles, or for His own transfiguration, and descending again to heal the sick and those who were unable to follow Him whither His disciples went? But it is not the appropriate time to describe at present the truly venerable and divine contents of the Gospels, or the mind of Christ – that is, the wisdom and the word – contained in the writings of Paul. But what we have said is sufficient by way of answer to the unphilosophic sneers52 of Celsus, in Comparing the inner mysteries of the Church of God to the cats, and apes, and crocodiles, and goats, and dogs of Egypt.


Chap. XXII.

But this low jester53 Celsus, omitting no species of mockery and ridicule which can be employed against us, mentions in his treatise the Dioscuri, and Hercules, and Aesculapius, and Dionysus, who are believed by the Greeks to have become gods after being men, and says that “we cannot bear to call such beings gods, because they were at first men,54 and yet they manifested many noble qualifies, which were displayed for the benefit of mankind, while we assert that Jesus was seen after His death by His own followers;” and he brings against us an additional charge, as if we said that “He was seen indeed, but was only a shadow!” Now to this we reply, that it was very artful of Celsus not here clearly to indicate that he did not regard these beings as gods, for he was afraid of the opinion of those who might peruse his treatise, and who might suppose him to be an atheist; whereas, if he had paid respect to what appeared to him to be the truth, he would not have feigned to regard them as gods.55 Now to either of the allegations we are ready with an answer. Let us, accordingly, to those who do not regard them as gods reply as follows: These beings, then, are not gods at all; but agreeably to the view of those who think that the soul of man perishes immediately (after death), the souls of these men also perished; or according to the opinion of those who say that the soul continues to subsist or is immortal, these men continue to exist or are immortal, and they are not gods but heroes, – or not even heroes, but simply souls. If, then, on the one hand, you suppose them not to exist, we shall have to prove the doctrine of the soul’s immortality, which is to us a doctrine of pre-eminent importance;56 if, on the other hand, they do exist, we have still to prove57 the doctrine of immortality, not only by what the Greeks have so well said regarding it, but also in a manner agreeable to the teaching of Holy Scripture. And we shall demonstrate that it is impossible for those who were polytheists during their lives to obtain a better country and position after their departure from this world, by quoting the histories that are related of them, in which is recorded the great dissoluteness of Hercules, and his effeminate bondage with Omphale, together with the statements regarding Aesculapius, that their Zeus struck him dead by a thunderbolt. And of the Dioscuri, it will be said that they die often – 

“At one time live on alternate days, and at another

Die, and obtain honour equally with the gods.”58

How, then, can they reasonably imagine that one of these is to be regarded as a god or a hero?


Chap. XXIII.

But we, in proving the facts related of our Jesus from the prophetic Scriptures, and comparing afterwards His history with them, demonstrate that no dissoluteness on His part is recorded. For even they who conspired against Him, and who sought false witnesses to aid them, did not find even any plausible grounds for advancing a false charge against Him, so as to accuse Him of licentiousness; but His death was indeed the result of a conspiracy, and bore no resemblance to the death of Aesculapius by lightning. And what is there that is venerable in the madman Dionysus, and his female garments, that he should be worshipped as a god? And if they who would defend such beings betake themselves to allegorical interpretations, we must examine each individual instance, and ascertain whether it is well founded,59 and also in each particular case, whether those beings can have a real existence, and are deserving of respect and worship who were torn by the Titans, and cast down from their heavenly throne. Whereas our Jesus, who appeared to the members of His own troop60 – for I will take the word that Celsus employs – did really appear, and Celsus makes a false accusation against the Gospel in saying that what appeared was a shadow. And let the statements of their histories and that of Jesus be carefully compared together. Will Celsus have the former to be true, but the latter, although recorded by eye-witnesses who showed by their acts that they clearly understood the nature of what they had seen, and who manifested their state of mind by what they cheerfully underwent for the sake of His Gospel, to be inventions? Now, who is there that, desiring to act always in conformity with right reason, would yield his assent at random61 to what is related of the one, but would rush to the history of Jesus, and without examination refuse to believe what is recorded of Him?62


Chap. XXIV.

And again, when it is said of Aesculapius that a great multitude both of Greeks and Barbarians acknowledge that they have frequently seen, and still see, no mere phantom, but Aesculapius himself, healing and doing good, and foretelling the future; Celsus requires us to believe this, and finds no fault with the believers in Jesus, when we express our belief in such stories, but when we give our assent to the disciples, and eye-witnesses of the miracles of Jesus, who clearly manifest the honesty of their convictions (because we see their guilelessness, as far as it is possible to see the conscience revealed in writing), we are called by him a set of “silly” individuals, although he cannot demonstrate that an incalculable63 number, as he asserts, of Greeks and Barbarians acknowledge the existence of Aesculapius; while we, if we deem this a matter of importance, can clearly show a countless multitude of Greeks and Barbarians who acknowledge the existence of Jesus. And some give evidence of their having received through this faith a marvellous power by the cures which they perform, revoking no other name over those who need their help than that of the God of all things, and of Jesus, along with a mention of His history. For by these means we too have seen many persons freed from grievous calamities, and from distractions of mind,64 and madness, and countless other ills, which could be cured neither by men nor devils.


Chap. XXV.

Now, in order to grant that there did exist a healing spirit named Aesculapius, who used to cure the bodies of men, I would say to those who are astonished at such an occurrence, or at the prophetic knowledge of Apollo, that since the cure of bodies is a thing indifferent,65 and a matter within the reach not merely of the good,66 but also of the bad; and as the foreknowledge of the future is also a thing indifferent – for the possessor of foreknowledge does not necessarily manifest the possession of virtue – you must show that they who practise healing or who foretell the future are in no respect wicked, but exhibit a perfect pattern of virtue, and are not far from being regarded as gods. But they will not be able to show that they are virtuous who practise the art of healing, or who are gifted with foreknowledge, seeing many who are not fit to live are related to have been healed; and these, too, persons whom, as leading improper lives, no wise physician would wish to heal. And in the responses of the Pythian oracle also you may find some injunctions which are not in accordance with reason, two of which we will adduce on the present occasion; viz., when it gave commandment that Cleomedes67 – the boxer, I suppose – should be honoured with divine honours, seeing some great importance or other attaching to his pugilistic skill, but did not confer either upon Pythagoras or upon Socrates the honours which it awarded to pugilism; and also when it called Archilochus “the servant of the Muses” – a man who employed his poetic powers upon topics of the most wicked and licentious nature, and whose public character was dissolute and impure – and entitled him “pious,”68 in respect of his being the servant of the Muses, who are deemed to be goddesses! Now I am inclined to think that no one would assert that he was a “pious” man who was not adorned with all moderation and virtue, or that a decorous69 man would utter such expressions as are contained in the unseemly70 iambics of Archilochus. And if nothing that is divine in itself is shown to belong either to the healing skill of Aesculapius or the prophetic power of Apollo, how could any one, even were I to grant that the facts are as alleged, reasonably worship them as pure divinities? – and especially when the prophetic spirit of Apollo, pure from any body of earth, secretly enters through the private parts the person of her who is called the priestess, as she is seated at the mouth of the Pythian cave!71 Whereas regarding Jesus and His power we have no such notion; for the body which was born of the Virgin was composed of human material, and capable of receiving human wounds and death.


Chap. XXVI.

Let us see what Celsus says next, when he adduces from history marvellous occurrences, which in themselves seem to be incredible, but which are not discredited by him, so far at least as appears from his words. And, in the first place, regarding Aristeas of Proconnesus, of whom he speaks as follows: “Then, with respect to Aristeas of Proconnesus, who disappeared from among men in a manner so indicative of divine intervention,72 and who showed himself again in so unmistakeable a fashion, and on many subsequent occasions visited many parts of the world, and announced marvellous events, and whom Apollo enjoined the inhabitants of Metapontium to regard as a god, no one considers him to be a god.” This account he appears to have taken from Pindar and Herodotus. It will be sufficient, however, at present to quote the statement of the latter writer from the fourth book of his histories, which is to the following effect: “Of what country Aristeas, who made these verses, was, has already been mentioned, and I shall now relate the account I heard of him in Proconnesus and Cyzicus. They say that Aristeas, who was inferior to none of the citizens by birth, entering into a fuller’s shop in Proconnesus, died suddenly, and that the fuller, having closed his workshop, went to acquaint the relatives of the deceased. When the report had spread through the city that Aristeas was dead, a certain Cyzicenian, arriving from Artace, fell into a dispute with those who made the report, affirming that he had met and conversed with him on his way to Cyzicus, and he vehemently disputed the truth of the report; but the relations of the deceased went to the fuller’s shop, taking with them what was necessary for the purpose of carrying the body away; but when the house was opened, Aristeas was not to be seen, either dead or alive. They say that afterwards, in the seventh year, he appeared in Proconnesus, composed those verses which by the Greeks are now called Arimaspian, and having composed them, disappeared a second time. Such is the story current in these cities. But these things I know happened to the Metapontines in Italy 340 years after the second disappearance of Aristeas, as I discovered by computation in Proconnesus and Metapontium. The Metapontines say that Aristeas himself, having appeared in their country, exhorted them to erect an altar to Apollo, and to place near it a statue beating the name of Aristeas the Proconnesian; for he said that Apollo had visited their country only of all the Italians, and that he himself, who was now Aristeas, accompanied him; and that when he accompanied the god he was a crow; and after saying this he vanished. And the Metapontines say they sent to Delphi to inquire of the god what the apparition of the man meant; but the Pythian bade them obey the apparition, and if they obeyed it would conduce to their benefit. They accordingly, having received this answer, fulfilled the injunctions. And now, a statue beating the name of Aristeas is placed near the image of Apollo, and around it laurels are planted: the image is placed in the public square. Thus much concerning Aristeas.”73


Chap. XXVII.

Now, in answer to this account of Aristeas, we have to say, that if Celsus had adduced it as history, without signifying his own assent to its truth, it is in a different way that we should have met his argument. But since he asserts that he “disappeared through the intervention of the divinity,” and “showed himself again in an unmistakeable manner,” and “visited many parts of the world,” and “made marvellous announcements;” and, moreover, that there was “an oracle of Apollo, enjoining the Metapontines to treat Aristeas as a god,” he gives the accounts relating to him as upon his own authority, and with his full assent. And (this being the case), we ask, How is it possible that, while supposing the marvels related by the disciples of Jesus regarding their Master to be wholly fictitious, and finding fault with those who believe them, you, O Celsus, do not regard these stories of yours to be either products of jugglery74 or inventions? And how,75 while charging others with an irrational belief in the marvels recorded of Jesus, can you show yourself justified in giving credence to such statement as the above, without producing some proof or evidence of the alleged occurrences having taken place? Or do Herodotus and Pindar appear to you to speak the truth, while they who have made it their concern to die for the doctrine of Jesus, and who have left to their successors writings so remarkable on the truths which they believed, entered for the sake of “fictions” (as you consider them), and “myths,” and “juggleries,” upon a struggle which entails a life of danger and a death of violence? Place yourself, then, as a neutral party, between what is related of Aristeas and what is recorded of Jesus, and see whether, from the result, and from the benefits which have accrued from the reformation of morals, and to the worship of the God who is over all things, it is not allowable to conclude that we must believe the events recorded of Jesus not to have happened without the divine intervention, but that this was not the case with the story of Aristeas the Proconnesian.



For with what purpose in view did Providence accomplish the marvels related of Aristeas? And to confer what benefit upon the human race did such remarkable events, as you regard them, take place? You cannot answer. But we, when we relate the events of the history of Jesus, have no ordinary defence to offer for their occurrence; – this, viz., that God desired to commend the doctrine of Jesus as a doctrine which was to save mankind, and which was based, indeed, upon the apostles as foundations of the rising76 edifice of Christianity, but which increased in magnitude also in the succeeding ages, in which not a few cures are wrought in the name of Jesus, and certain other manifestations of no small moment have taken place. Now what sort of person is Apollo, who enjoined the Metapontines to treat Aristeas as a god? And with what object does he do this? And what advantage was he procuring to the Metapontines from this divine worship, if they were to regard him as a god, who a little ago was a mortal? And yet the recommendations of Apollo (viewed by us as a demon who has obtained the honour of libation and sacrificial odours77) regarding this Aristeas appear to you to be worthy of consideration; while those of the God of all things, and of His holy angels, made known beforehand through the prophets – not after the birth of Jesus, but before He appeared among men – do not stir you up to admiration, not merely of the prophets who received the Divine Spirit, but of Him also who was the object of their predictions, whose entrance into life was so clearly predicted many years beforehand by numerous prophets, that the whole Jewish people who were hanging in expectation of the coming of Him who was looked for, did, after the advent of Jesus, fall into a keen dispute with each other; and that a great multitude of them acknowledged Christ, and believed Him to be the object of prophecy, while others did not believe in Him, but, despising the meekness of those who, on account of the teaching of Jesus, were unwilling to cause even the most trifling sedition, dared to inflict on Jesus those cruelties which His disciples have so truthfully and candidly recorded, without secretly omitting from their marvellous history of Him what seems to the multitude to bring disgrace upon the doctrine of Christianity. But both Jesus Himself and His disciples desired that His followers should believe not merely in His Godhead and miracles, as if He had not also been a partaker of human nature, and had assumed the human flesh which “lusteth against the Spirit;”78 but they saw also that the power which had descended into human nature, and into the midst of human miseries, and which had assumed a human soul and body, contributed through faith, along with its divine elements, to the salvation of believers,79 when they see that from Him there began the union of the divine with the human nature, in order that the human, by communion with the divine, might rise to be divine, not in Jesus alone, but in all those who not only believe, but80 enter upon the life which Jesus taught, and which elevates to friendship with God and communion with Him every one who lives according to the precepts of Jesus.


Chap. XXIX.

According to Celsus, then, Apollo wished the Metapontines to treat Aristeas as a god. But as the Metapontines considered the evidence in favour of Aristeas being a man – and probably not a virtuous one – to be stronger than the declaration of the oracle to the effect that he was a god or worthy of divine honours, they for that reason would not obey Apollo, and consequently no one regarded Aristeas as a god. But with respect to Jesus we would say that, as it was of advantage to the human race to accept him as the Son of God – God come in a human soul and body – and as this did not seem to be advantageous to the gluttonous appetites81 of the demons which love bodies, and to those who deem them to be gods on that account, the demons that are on earth (which are supposed to be gods by those who are not instructed in the nature of demons), and also their worshippers, were desirous to prevent the spread of the doctrine of Jesus; for they saw that the libations and odours in which they greedily delighted were being swept away by the prevalence of the instructions of Jesus. But the God who sent Jesus dissipated all the conspiracies of the demons, and made the Gospel of Jesus to prevail throughout the whole world for the conversion and reformation of men, and caused Churches to be everywhere established in opposition to those of superstitious and licentious and wicked men; for such is the character of the multitudes who constitute the citizens82 in the assemblies of the various cities. Whereas the Churches of God which are instructed by Christ, when carefully contrasted with the assemblies of the districts in which they are situated, are as beacons83 in the world; for who would not admit that even the inferior members of the Church, and those who in comparison with the better are less worthy, are nevertheless more excellent than many of those who belong to the assemblies in the different districts?


Chap. XXX.

For the Church84 of God, e.g., which is at Athens, is a meek and stable body, as being one which desires to please God, who is over all things; whereas the assembly85 of the Athenians is given to sedition, and is not at all to be compared to the Church of God in that city. And you may say the same thing of the Church of God at Corinth, and of the assembly of the Corinthian people; and also of the Church of God at Alexandria, and of the assembly of the people of Alexandria. And if he who hears this be a candid man, and one who investigates things with a desire to ascertain the truth, he will be filled with admiration of Him who not only conceived the design, but also was able to secure in all places the establishment of Churches of God alongside86 of the assemblies of the people in each city. In like manner, also, in comparing the council87 of the Church of God with the council in any city, you would find that certain councillors88 of the Church are worthy to rule in the city of God, if there be any such city in the whole world;89 whereas the councillors in all other places exhibit in their characters no quality worthy of the conventional90 superiority which they appear to enjoy over their fellow-citizens. And so, too, you must compare the ruler of the Church in each city with the ruler of the people of the city, in order to observe that even amongst those councillors and rulers of the Church of God who come very far short of their duty, and who lead more indolent lives than others who are more energetic, it is nevertheless possible to discover a general superiority in what relates to the progress of virtue over the characters of the councillors and rulers in the various cities.91





1 δημηγορίας: cf. book i. c. 71.

2 κατὰ τὴν παροιμίαν καλουμένης ὄνου σκιᾶς μάχης. On this proverb, see Zenobius, Centuria Sexta, adag. 28, and the note of Schottius. Cf. also Suidas, s.v. ονου σκια. – De la Rue.

3 σεμνόν.

4 διά τινος γοητείας.

5 κατὰ τὰ Ἰουδαίων πάτρια.

6 τῶν χρηματιζόντων μερίδος Θεοῦ.

7 ἆρα γὰρ ὡς ἔτυχε.

8 σὺν οὐδεμιᾷ πιθανότητι.

9 σὺν οὐδεμιᾷ πιθανότητι.

10 Psa_96:5, δαιμόνια, “idols,” Auth. Vers. We have in this passage, and in many others, the identification of the δαίμονες or gods of the heathen with the δαίμονες or δαιμόνια, “evil spirits,” or angels, supposed to be mentioned in Gen_6:2.

11 The reading in the text is αὑτομολεῖν, on which Bohereau, with whom the Benedictine editor agrees, remarks that we must either read αὑτομολήσοντας, or understand some such word as ἑτοίμους before αῦτομολεῖν.

12 Psa_96:5, δαιμόνια, “idols,” Auth. Vers. We have in this passage, and in many others, the identification of the δαίμονες or gods of the heathen with the δαίμονες or δαιμόνια, “evil spirits,” or angels, supposed to be mentioned in Gen_6:2.

13 τὸ μεῖζον αὐτόθεν.

14 μέχρι λόγου.

15 πῶς οὐχὶ ἐξ εἰκότων κατασκευάζεται.

16 καθ ὑπόθεσιν.

17 θεόθεν.

18 Τῆς καινοτομίας.

19 Προκαταληφθεὶς ὡς ὑπὸ φίλτρων τῶν Αἰγυπτίων.

20 Τὴν σύντροφον φωνήν.

21 Συγγενεῖς εἰσιν αἱ προσηγορίαι.

22 Σαφῶς ἐνργές.

23 [Gibbon, in the sixteenth chapter of his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, quotes the first part of this sentence as proving that “the learned Origen declares, in the most express terms, that the number of martyrs was very inconsiderable.” But see Guizot’s note on the passage. S.]

24 Ἐπαύλεις.

25 Δοξάριον.

26 στάσεις ἰδίας.

27 καί τοι οὐ πάντη ἧσαν ὀλίγοι.

28 ἴΰγξ.

29 The reading in Spencer’s and the Benedictine edition is ὑποτεμνομένας, for which Lommatzsch reads ὑπομεμνημένας.

30 καὶ τὸ δοκοῦν.

31 ἀπαθέστατα.

32 Ἐκδοχήν.

33 Τινὲς παρεκδοχαί. [He admits the fact, but does not justify such oppositions.]

34 πολλὴν ἔχει διολκήν.

35 φιλολόγον.

36 τό πρέπον.

37 θείας ἐνεργείας.

38 ἐπιφανείας.

39 τὰ τοῦ παλαιοῦ λόγου παρακούσματα συμπλάττοντες, τούτοις προκαταυλοῦμεν καὶ προκατηχοῦμεν τοῦς ἀνθρώπους, ὥς οὑ τους κορυβαντιζομένους περιβομβοῦντες.

40 οὐκ ἄν ἔχοι παραστῆσαι, ὅτι ἡμεῖς μὲν ἐν παρακούσμασι γενόμενοι τῆς ἀληθείας, ὅσοι γε πειρώμεθα μετὰ λόγου πιστεύειν, πρὸς τὰ τοιαῦτα ζῶμεν δόγματα.

41 προπυλαίων μεγέθη τε καὶ κάλλη.

42 τὸ ἀνάλογον.

43 [Clearly coincident with Clement and other early Fathers on this head.]

44 φαντασίαν ἐξαποστέλλειν τοῖς ταῦτα μεμαθηκόσιν, ὅτι μὴ μάτην μεμύηται.

45 πεφαντάσθαι.

46 αἰνίγματα.

47 ὦ γενναῖε.

48 διεξοδεύωμεν.

49 τηρήσεως.

50 σαφήνειαν.

51 μεταβάσεις.

52 ἀφιλόσοφον χλεύην.

53 βωμολόχος.

54 The reading in the text is καὶ πρῶτοι, for which Bohereau proposes τὸ πρῶτον, which we have adopted in the translation.

55 We have followed in the translation the emendation of Guietus, who proposes εἰ δὲ τὴν φαινομένην αὐτῷ ἀλήθειαν ἐπρέσβευσεν, οὐκ ἄν, κ.τ.λ., instead of the textual reading, εἴ τε τῆς φαινομένης αὐτῷ ἀληθείας ἐπρέσβενσεν, οὐκ ἄν, κ.τ.λ..

56 τὸν προηγούμενον ἡμῖν περὶ ψυχής κατασκευαστέον λόγον.

57 Bohereau conjectures, with great probability, that instead of ἀποδεκτέον, we ought to read ἀποδεικτέον.

58 Cf. Hom., Odyss., xi. 303 and 304.

59 εἰ τὸ ὑγιὲς ἔχουσιν.

60 θιασώταις.

61 ἀποκληρωτικῶς.

62 εἰ δὲ τὰ περὶ τούτου ἀνεχετάστως ὁρμῶν ἀπιστήσαι τοῖς περὶ αὐτοῦ;.

63 ἀμύθητον.

64 ἐκστάσεων.

65 μέσον.

66 ἀστείους.

67 Cf. Smith’s Dict. of Biograph., s.v.

68 εὐσεβῆ.

69 κόσμιος.

70 οἱ μὴ σεμνοί.

71 ὅτε διὰ τοῦ Πυθίον στομίου περικαθεζομένῃ τῇ καλουμένῃ προφήτιδι πνεῦμα διὰ τῶν γυναικείων ὑπεισέρχεται τὸ μαντικὸν, ὁ Ἀπόλλων, τὸ καθαρὸν ἀπὸ γηίνου σώματος. Boherellus conjectures τὸ μαντικὸν τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος τὸ καθαρον.

72 οὕτω δαιμονίως.

73 Herod., book iv. chaps. 14 and 15 (Cary’s translation).

74 τερατείαν.

75 Guietus conjectures, καὶ πῶς, ὦ λῷστε.

76 τῆς καταβαλλομένης οἰκοδομῆς.

77 τοῦ καθ ἡμᾶς δαίμονος, λαχόντος γέρας λοιβῆς τε κνίσσης τε.

78 ὡς οὐ κοινωνήσαντος τῇ ἀνθρωπίνῃ φύσει, οὐδ ἀναλαβόντος τὴν ἐν ἀνθρώποις σάρκα ἐπιθυμοῦσαν κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος.

79 Ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ τὴν καταβᾶσαν εἰς ἀνθρωπίνην φύσιν καὶ εἰς ἀνθρωπίνας περιστάσεις δύναμιν, καὶ ἀναλαβοῦσαν ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀνθρώπινον, ἑώρων ἐκ τοῦ πιστεύεσθαι μετὰ τῶν θειοτέρων συμβαλλομένην εἰς σωτηρίαν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.

80 μετὰ τοῦ πιστεύειν. Others read, μετὰ το πιστεύειν.

81 λιχνείᾳ.

82 τοιαῦτα γὰρ τά πανταχοῦ πολιτευόμενα ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν πόλεων πλήθη.

83 φωστῆρες. [Phi_2:15. Very noteworthy are the details of this and the following chapter, and their defiant comparisons.]

84 ἐκκλησία.

85 ἐκκλησία.

86 παροικούσας.

87 βουλήν.

88 βουλευταί.

89 εὕροις ἂν τίνες μὲν τῆς ἐκκλησίας βουλευταὶ ἄξιοί εἰσιν, εἴ τίς ἐστιν ἐν τῷ πάντι πόγις τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐν ἐκεινῇ πολιτεύεσθαι. Boherellus conjectures εὕροις ἂν ὅτι τινὲς μὲν, κ.τ.λ.

90 τῆς ἐκ κατατάξεως ὑπεροχῆς.

91 ὅτι και ἐπὶ τῶν σφόδρα ἀποτυγχανομένων βουλευτῶν καὶ ἀρχόντων ἐκκλησίας Θεοῦ, καὶ ραθυμότερον παρὰ τοὺς εὐτονωτέρως βιοῦντας, οὐδὲν ἧττόν ἐστιν εὑρεῖν ὡς ἐπίπαν ὑπεροχὴν, τὴν ἐν τῇ ἐπὶ τὰς ἀρετὰς προκοπῆ, παρὰ τὰ ἔθη τῶν ἐν ταῖς πόλεσι βουλευτῶν καὶ ἀρχόντων. Boherellus conjectures ῥαθυμοτερων.

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.

Origen (Cont.)Origen (Cont.)

Book III. (C0nt.)

Chap. LIX.

Immediately after this, Celsus, perceiving that he has slandered us with too great bitterness, as if by way of defence expresses himself as follows: “That I bring no heavier charge than what the truth compels me, any one may see from the following remarks. Those who invite to participation in other mysteries, make proclamation as follows: ‘Every one who has clean hands, and a prudent tongue;’141 others again thus: ‘He who is pure from all pollution, and whose soul is conscious of no evil, and who has lived well and justly.’ Such is the proclamation made by those who promise purification from sins.142 But let us hear what kind of persons these Christians invite. Every one, they say, who is a sinner, who is devoid of understanding, who is a child, and, to speak generally, whoever is unfortunate, him will the kingdom of God receive. Do you not call him a sinner, then, who is unjust, and a thief, and a housebreaker, and a poisoner, and a committer of sacrilege, and a robber of the dead? What others would a man invite if he were issuing a proclamation for an assembly of robbers?” Now, in answer to such statements, we say that it is not the same thing to invite those who are sick in soul to be cured, and those who are in health to the knowledge and study of divine things. We, however, keeping both these things in view, at first invite all men to be healed, and exhort those who are sinners to come to the consideration of the doctrines which teach men not to sin, and those who are devoid of understanding to those which beget wisdom, and those who are children to rise in their thoughts to manhood, and those who are simply143 unfortunate to good fortune,144 or – which is the more appropriate term to use – to blessedness.145 And when those who have been turned towards virtue have made progress, and have shown that they have been purified by the word, and have led as far as they can a better life, then and not before do we invite them to participation in our mysteries. “For we speak wisdom among them that are perfect.” (cf. 1Co_2:6)


Chap. LX.

And as we teach, moreover, that “wisdom will not enter into the soul of a base man, nor dwell in a body that is involved in sin,” (Wisdom of Solomon 1:4) we say, Whoever has clean hands, and therefore lifts up holy hands to God, and by reason of being occupied with elevated and heavenly things, can say, “The lifting up of my hands is as the evening sacrifice,’ (cf. Psa_141:2) let him come to us; and whoever has a wise tongue through meditating on the law of the Lord day and night, and by “reason of habit has his senses exercised to discern between good and evil,” let him have no reluctance in coming to the strong and rational sustenance which is adapted to those who are athletes in piety and every virtue. And since the grace of God is with all those who love with a pure affection the teacher of the doctrines of immortality, whoever is pure not only from all defilement, but from what are regarded as lesser transgressions, let him be boldly initiated in the mysteries of Jesus, which properly are made known only to the holy and the pure. The initiated of Celsus accordingly says, “Let him whose soul is conscious of no evil come.” But he who acts as initiator, according to the precepts of Jesus, will say to those who have been purified in heart, “He whose soul has, for a long time, been conscious of no evil, and especially since he yielded himself to the healing of the word, let such an one hear the doctrines which were spoken in private by Jesus to His genuine disciples.” Therefore in the comparison which he institutes between the procedure of the initiators into the Grecian mysteries, and the teachers of the doctrine of Jesus, he does not know the difference between inviting the wicked to be healed, and initiating those already purified into the sacred mysteries!


Chap. LXI.

Not to participation in mysteries, then, and to fellowship in the wisdom hidden in a mystery, which God ordained before the world to the glory of His saints, (cf. 1Co_2:7) do we invite the wicked man, and the thief, and the housebreaker, and the poisoner, and the committer of sacrilege, and the plunderer of the dead, and all those others whom Celsus may enumerate in his exaggerating style, but such as these we invite to be healed. For there are in the divinity of the word some helps towards the cure of those who are sick, respecting which the word says, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick;” (Mat_9:12) others, gain, which to the pure in soul and body exhibit “the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest by the Scriptures of the prophets,” (Rom_16:25, Rom_16:26) and “by the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (cf. 2Ti_1:10) which “appearing” is manifested to each one of those who are perfect, and which enlightens the reason146 in the true” knowledge147 of things. But as he exaggerates the charges against us, adding, after his list of those vile individuals whom he has mentioned, this remark, “What other persons would a robber summon to himself by proclamation?” we answer such a question by saying that a robber summons around him individuals of such a character, in order to make use of their villainy against the men whom they desire to slay and plunder. A Christian, on the other hand, even though he invite those whom the robber invites, invites them to a very different vocation, viz. to bind up these wounds by His word, and to apply to the soul, festering amid evils, the drugs obtained from the word, and which are analogous to the wine and oil, and plasters, and other healing appliances which belong to the art of medicine.


Chap. LXII.

In the next place, throwing a slur148 upon the exhortations spoken and written to those who have led wicked lives, and which invite them to repentance and reformation of heart, he asserts that we say “that it was to sinners that God has been sent.” Now this statement of his is much the same as if he were to find fault with certain persons for saying that on account of the sick who were living in a city, a physician had been sent them by a very benevolent monarch.149 God the Word was sent, indeed, as a physician to sinners, but as a teacher of divine mysteries to those who are already pure and who sin no more. But Celsus, unable to see this distinction, – for he had no desire to be animated with a love of truth, – remarks, “Why was he not sent to those who were without sin? What evil is it not to have committed sin?” To which we reply, that if by those “who were without sin” he means those who sin no more, then our Saviour Jesus was sent even to such, but not as a physician. While if by those “who were without sin” he means such as have never at any time sinned, – for he made no distinction in his statement, – we reply that it is impossible for a man thus to be without sin. And this we say, excepting, of course, the man understood to be in Christ Jesus,150 who “did no sin.” It is with a malicious intent, indeed, that Celsus says of us that we assert that “God will receive the unrighteousness man if he humble himself on account of his wickedness, but that He will not receive the righteous man, although he look up to Him, (adorned) with virtue from the beginning.” Now we assert that it is impossible for a man to look up to God (adorned) with virtue from the beginning. For wickedness must necessarily first exist in men. As Paul also says, “When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Rom_7:9) Moreover, we do not teach regarding the unrighteous man, that it is sufficient for him to humble himself on account of his wickedness in order to his being accepted by God, but that God will accept him if, after passing condemnation upon himself for his past conduct, he walk humbly on account of it, and in a becoming manner for the time to come.


Chap. LXIII.

After this, not understanding how it has been said that “every one who exalted himself shall be abased;” (cf. Mat_23:12) nor (although taught even by Plato) that “the good and virtuous man walketh humbly and orderly;” and ignorant, moreover, that we give the injunction, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time;” (1Pe_5:6) he says that “those persons who preside properly over a trial make those individuals who bewail before them their evil deeds to cease from their piteous wailings, lest their decisions should be determined rather by compassion than by a regard to truth; whereas God does not decide in accordance with truth, but in accordance with flattery.”151 Now, what words of flattery and piteous wailing are contained in the Holy Scriptures when the sinner says in his prayers to God, “I have acknowledged my sin, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgression to the Lord,” etc., etc.? For is he able to show that a procedure of this kind is not adapted to the conversion of sinners, who humble themselves in their prayers under the hand of God? And, becoming confused by his efforts to accuse us, he contradicts himself; appearing at one time to know a man “without sin,” and “a righteous man, who can look up to God (adorned) with virtue from the beginning;” and at another time accepting our statement that there is no man altogether righteous, or without sin;152 for, as if he admitted its truth, he remarks, “This is indeed apparently true, that somehow the human race is naturally inclined to sin.” In the next place, as if all men were not invited by the word, he says, “All men, then, without distinction, ought to be invited, since all indeed are sinners.” And yet, in the preceding pages, we have pointed out the words of Jesus: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat_11:28) All men, therefore, labouring and being heavy laden on account of the nature of sin, are invited to the rest spoken of in the word of God, “for God sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psa_107:20)


Chap. LXIV.

But since he says, in addition to this, “What is this preference of sinners over others?” and makes other remarks of a similar nature, we have to reply that absolutely a sinner is not preferred before one who is not a sinner; but that sometimes a sinner, who has become conscious of his own sin, and for that reason comes to repentance, being humbled on account of his sins, is preferred before one who is accounted a lesser sinner, but who does not consider himself one, but exalts himself on the ground of certain good qualities which he thinks he possesses, and is greatly elated on their account. And this is manifest to those who are willing to peruse the Gospels in a spirit of fairness, by the parable of the publican, who said, “Be merciful to me a sinner,” (Luk_18:13) and of the Pharisee who boasted with a certain wicked self-conceit in the words, “I thank Thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” (Luk_18:11) For Jesus subjoins to his narrative of them both the words: “This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luk_18:14) We utter no blasphemy, then, against God, neither are we guilty of falsehood, when we teach that every man, whoever he may be, is conscious of human infirmity in comparison with the greatness of God, and that we must ever ask from Him, who alone is able to supply our deficiencies, what is wanting to our (mortal) nature.


Chap. LXV.

He imagines, however, that we utter these exhortations for the conversion of sinners, because we are able to gain over no one who is really good and righteous, and therefore open our gates to the most unholy and abandoned of men. But if any one will fairly observe our assemblies we can present a greater number of those who have been converted from not a very wicked life, than of those who have committed the most abominable sins. For naturally those who are conscious to themselves of better things, desire that those promises may be true which are declared by God regarding the reward of the righteous, and thus assent more readily to the statements (of Scripture) than those do who have led very wicked lives, and who are prevented by their very consciousness (of evil) from admitting that they will be punished by the Judge of all with such punishment as befits those who have sinned so greatly, and as would not be inflicted by the Judge of all contrary to right reason.153 Sometimes, also, when very abandoned men are willing to accept the doctrine of (future) punishment, on account of the hope which is based upon repentance, they are prevented from so doing by their habit of sinning, being constantly dipped,154 and, as it were, dyed155 in wickedness, and possessing no longer the power to turn from it easily to a proper life, and one regulated according to right reason. And although Celsus observes this, he nevertheless, I know not why, expresses himself in the following terms: “And yet, indeed, it is manifest to every one that no one by chastisement, much less by merciful treatment, could effect a complete change in those who are sinners both by nature and custom, for to change nature is an exceedingly difficult thing. But they who are without sin are partaken of a better life.”


Chap. LXVI.

Now here Celsus appears to me to have committed a great error, in refusing to those who are sinners by nature, and also by habit, the possibility of a complete transformation, alleging that they cannot be cured even by punishment. For it clearly appears that all men are inclined to sin by nature,156 and some not only by nature but by practice, while not all men are incapable of an entire transformation. For there are found in every philosophical sect, and in the word of God, persons who are related to have undergone so great a change that they may be proposed as a model of excellence of life. Among the names of the heroic age some mention Hercules and Ulysses, among those of later times, Socrates, and of those who have lived very recently, Musonius.157 Not only against us, then, did Celsus utter the calumny, when he said that “it was manifest to every one that those who were given to sin by nature and habit could not by any means – even by punishments – be completely changed for the better,” but also against the noblest names in philosophy, who have not denied that the recovery of virtue was a possible thing for men. But although he did not express his meaning with exactness, we shall nevertheless, though giving his words a more favourable construction, convict him of unsound reasoning. For his words were: “Those who are inclined to sin by nature and habit, no one could completely reform even by chastisement;” and his words, as we understood them, we refuted to the best of our ability.158


Chap. LXVII.

It is probable, however, that he meant to convey some such meaning as this, that those who were both by nature and habit given to the commission of those sins which are committed by the most abandoned of men, could not be completely transformed even by punishment. And yet this is shown to be false from the history of certain philosophers. For who is there that would not rank among the most abandoned of men the individual who somehow submitted to yield himself to his master, when he placed him in a brothel,159 that he might allow himself to be polluted by any one who liked? And yet such a circumstance is related of Phaedo! And who will not agree that he who burst, accompanied with a flute-player and a party of revellers, his profligate associates, into the school of the venerable Xenocrates, to insult a man who was the admiration of his friends, was not one of the greatest miscreants160 among mankind? Yet, notwithstanding this, reason was powerful enough to effect their conversion, and to enable them to make such progress in philosophy, that the one was deemed worthy by Plato to recount the discourse of Socrates on immortality, and to record his firmness in prison, when he evinced his contempt of the hemlock, and with all fearlessness and tranquillity of mind treated of subjects so numerous and important, that it is difficult even for those to follow them who are giving their utmost attention, and who are disturbed by no distraction; while Polemon, on the other hand, who from a profligate became a man of most temperate life, was successor in the school of Xenocrates, so celebrated for his venerable character. Celsus then does not speak the truth when he says “that sinners by nature and habit cannot be completely reformed even by chastisement.”



That philosophical discourses, however, distinguished by orderly arrangement and elegant expression,161 should produce such results in the case of those individuals just enumerated, and upon others162 who have led wicked lives, is not at all to be wondered at. But when we consider that those discourses, which Celsus terms “vulgar,”163 are filled with power, as if they were spells, and see that they at once convert multitudes from a life of licentiousness to one of extreme regularity,164 and from a life of wickedness to a better, and from a state of cowardice or unmanliness to one of such high-toned courage as to lead men to despise even death through the piety which shows itself within them, why should we not justly admire the power which they contain? For the words of those who at the first assumed the office of (Christian) ambassadors, and who gave their labours to rear up the Churches of God, – nay, their preaching also, – were accompanied with a persuasive power, though not like that found among those who profess the philosophy of Plato, or of any other merely human philosopher, which possesses no other qualities than those of human nature. But the demonstration which followed the words of the apostles of Jesus was given from God, and was accredited165 by the Spirit and by power. And therefore their word ran swiftly and speedily, or rather the word of God through their instrumentality, transformed numbers of persons who had been sinners both by nature and habit, whom no one could have reformed by punishment, but who were changed by the word, which moulded and transformed them according to its pleasure.


Chap. LXIX.

Celsus continues in his usual manner, asserting that “to change a nature entirely is exceedingly difficult.” We, however, who know of only one nature in every rational soul, and who maintain that none has been created evil by the Author of all things, but that many have become wicked through education, and perverse example, and surrounding influences,166 so that wickedness has been naturalized167 in some individuals, are persuaded that for the word of God to change a nature in which evil has been naturalized is not only not impossible, but is even a work of no very great difficulty, if a man only believe that he must entrust himself to the God of all things, and do everything with a view to please Him with whom it cannot be168 that

“Both good and bad are in the same honour,

Or that the idle man and he who laboured much

Perish alike.”169

But even if it be exceedingly difficult to effect a change in some persons, the cause must be held to lie in their own will, which is reluctant to accept the belief that the God over all things is a just Judge of all the deeds done during life. For deliberate choice and practice170 avail much towards the accomplishment of things which appear to be very difficult, and, to speak hyperbolically, almost impossible. Has the nature of man, when desiring to walk along a rope extended in the air through the middle of the theatre, and to carry at the same time numerous and heavy weights, been able by practice and attention to accomplish such a feat; but when desiring to live in conformity with the practice of virtue, does it find it impossible to do so, although formerly it may have been exceedingly wicked? See whether he who holds such views does not bring a charge against the nature of the Creator of the rational animal171 rather than against the creature, if He has formed the nature of man with powers for the attainment of things of such difficulty, and of no utility whatever, but has rendered it incapable of securing its own blessedness. But these remarks may suffice as an answer to the assertion that “entirely to change a nature is exceedingly difficult.” He alleges, in the next place, that “they who are without sin are partakers of a better life;” not making it clear what he means by “those who are without sin,” whether those who are so from the beginning (of their lives), or those who become so by a transformation. Of those who were so from the beginning of their lives, there cannot possibly be any; while those who are so after a transformation (of heart) are found to be few in number, being those who have become so after giving in their allegiance to the saving word. And they were not such when they gave in their allegiance. For, apart from the aid of the word, and that too the word of perfection, it is impossible for a man to become free from sin.


Chap. LXX.

In the next place, he objects to the statement, as if it were maintained by us, that “God will be able to do all things,” not seeing even here how these words are meant, and what “the all things” are which are included in it, and how it is said that God “will be able.” But on these matters it is not necessary now to speak; for although he might with a show of reason have opposed this proposition, he has not done so. Perhaps he did not understand the arguments which might be plausibly used against it, or if he did, he saw the answers that might be returned. Now in our judgment God can do everything which it is possible for Him to do without ceasing to be God, and good, and wise. But Celsus asserts – not comprehending the meaning of the expression “God can do all things” – “that He will not desire to do anything wicked,” admitting that He has the power, but not the will, to commit evil. We, on the contrary, maintain that as that which by nature possesses the property of sweetening other things through its own inherent sweetness cannot produce bitterness contrary to its own peculiar nature,172 nor that whose nature it is to produce light through its being light can cause darkness; so neither is God able to commit wickedness, for the power of doing evil is contrary to His deity and its omnipotence. Whereas if any one among existing things is able to commit wickedness from being inclined to wickedness by nature, it does so from not having in its nature the ability not to do evil.


Chap. LXXI.

He next assumes what is not granted by the more rational class of believers, but what perhaps is considered to be true by some who are devoid of intelligence, – viz., that “God, like those who are overcome with pity, being Himself overcome, alleviates the sufferings of the wicked through pity for their wailings, and casts off the good, who do nothing of that kind, which is the height of injustice.” Now, in our judgment, God lightens the suffering of no wicked man who has not betaken himself to a virtuous life, and casts off no one who is already good, nor yet alleviates the suffering of any one who mourns, simply because he utters lamentation, or takes pity upon him, to use the word pity in its more common acceptation.173 But those who have passed severe condemnation upon themselves because of their sins, and who, as on that account, lament and bewail themselves as lost, so far as their previous conduct is concerned, and who have manifested a satisfactory change, are received by God on account of their repentance, as those who have undergone a transformation from a life of great wickedness. For virtue, taking up her abode in the souls of these persons, and expelling the wickedness which had previous possession of them, produces an oblivion of the past. And even although virtue do not effect an entrance, yet if a considerable progress take place in the soul, even that is sufficient, in the proportion that it is progressive, to drive out and destroy the flood of wickedness, so that it almost ceases to remain in the soul.


Chap. LXXII.

In the next place, speaking as in the person of a teacher of our doctrine, he expresses himself as follows: “Wise men reject what we say, being led into error, and ensnared by their wisdom.” In reply to which we say that, since wisdom is the knowledge of divine and human things and of their causes, or, as it is defined by the word of God, “the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty; and the brightness of the everlasting light, and the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness,” (cf. Wisdom of Solomon 7:25, 26.) no one who was really wise would reject what is said by a Christian acquainted with the principles of Christianity, or would be led into error, or ensnared by it. For true wisdom does not mislead, but ignorance does, while of existing things knowledge alone is permanent, and the truth which is derived from wisdom. But if, contrary to the definition of wisdom, you call any one whatever who dogmatizes with sophistical opinions wise, we answer that in conformity with what you call wisdom, such an one rejects the words of God, being misled and ensnared by plausible sophisms. And since, according to our doctrine, wisdom is not the knowledge of evil, but the knowledge of evil, so to speak, is in those who hold false opinions and who are deceived by them, I would therefore in such persons term it ignorance rather than wisdom.



After this he again slanders the ambassador of Christianity, and gives out regarding him that he relates “ridiculous things,” although he does not show or clearly point out what are the things which he calls “ridiculous.” And in his slanders he says that “no wise man believes the Gospel, being driven away by the multitudes who adhere to it.” And in this he acts like one who should say that owing to the multitude of those ignorant persons who are brought into subjection to the laws, no wise man would yield obedience to Solon, for example, or to Lycurgus, or Zaleucus, or any other legislator, and especially if by wise man he means one who is wise (by living) in conformity with virtue. For, as with regard to these ignorant persons, the legislators, according to their ideas of utility, caused them to be surrounded with appropriate guidance and laws, so God, legislating through Jesus Christ for men in all parts of the world, brings: to Himself even those who are not wise in the way in which it is possible for such persons to be brought to a better life. And God, well knowing this, as we have already shown in the preceding pages, says in the books of Moses “They have moved Me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (cf. Deu_32:21) And Paul also, knowing this, said, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” (cf. 1Co_1:27) calling, in a general way, wise all who appear to have made advances in knowledge, but have fallen into an atheistic polytheism, since “professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” (Rom_1:22, Rom_1:23)


Chap. LXXIV.

He accuses the Christian teacher, moreover of” seeking after the unintelligent.” In answer we ask, Whom do you mean by the “unintelligent?” For, to speak accurately, every wicked man is “unintelligent.” If then by “unintelligent” you mean the wicked, do you, in drawing men to philosophy, seek to gain the wicked or the virtuous?174 But it is impossible to gain the virtuous, because they have already given themselves to philosophy. The wicked, then, (you try to gain;) but if they are wicked, are they “unintelligent?” And many such you seek to win over to philosophy, and you therefore seek the “unintelligent.” But if I seek after those who are thus termed “unintelligent,” I act like a benevolent physician, who should seek after the sick in order to help and cure them. If, however, by “unintelligent” you mean persons who are not clever,175 but the inferior class of men intellectually,176 I shall answer that I endeavour to improve such also to the best of my ability, although I would not desire to build up the Christian community out of such materials. For I seek in preference those who are more clever and acute, because they are able to comprehend the meaning of the hard sayings, and of those passages in the law, and prophecies, and Gospels, which are expressed with obscurity, and which you have despised as not containing anything worthy of notice, because you have not ascertained the meaning which they contain, nor tried to enter into the aim of the writers.


Chap. LXXV.

But as he afterwards says that “the teacher of Christianity acts like a person who promises to restore patients to bodily health, but who prevents them from consulting skilled physicians, by whom his ignorance would be exposed,” we shall inquire in reply, “What are the physicians to whom you refer, from whom we turn away ignorant individuals.? For you do not suppose that we exhort those to embrace the Gospel who are devoted to philosophy, so that you would regard the latter as the physicians from whom we keep away such as we invite to come to the word of God.” He indeed will make no answer, because he cannot name the physicians; or else he will be obliged to betake himself to those of them who are ignorant, and who of their own accord servilely yield themselves to the worship of many gods, and to whatever other opinions are entertained by ignorant individuals. In either case, then, he will be shown to have employed to no purpose in his argument the illustration of “one who keeps others away from skilled physicians.” But if, in order to preserve from the philosophy of Epicurus, and from such as are considered physicians after his system, those who are deceived by them, why should we not be acting most reasonably in keeping such away from a dangerous disease caused by the physicians of Celsus, – that, viz., which leads to the annihilation of providence, and the introduction of pleasure as a good? But let it be conceded that we do keep away those whom we encourage to become our disciples from other philosopher-physicians, – from the Peripatetics, for example, who deny the existence of providence and the relation of Deity to man, – why shall we not piously train177 and heal those who have been thus encouraged, persuading them to devote themselves to the God of all things, and free those who yield obedience to us from the great wounds inflicted by the words of such as are deemed to be philosophers? Nay, let it also be admitted that we turn away from physicians of the sect of the Stoics, who introduce a corruptible god, and assert that his essence consists of a body, which is capable of being changed and altered in all its parts,178 and who also maintain that all things will one day perish, and that God alone will be left; why shall we not even thus emancipate our subjects from evils, and bring them by pious arguments to devote themselves to the Creator, and to admire the Father of the Christian system, who has so arranged that instruction of the most benevolent kind, and fitted for the conversion of souls,179 should be distributed throughout the whole human race? Nay, if we should cure those who have fallen into the folly of believing in the transmigration of souls through the teaching of physicians, who will have it that the rational nature descends sometimes into all kinds of irrational animals, and sometimes into that state of being which is incapable of using the imagination,180 why should we not improve the souls of our subjects by means of a doctrine which does not teach that a state of insensibility or irrationalism is produced in the wicked instead of punishment, but which shows that the labours and chastisements inflicted upon the wicked by God are a kind of medicines leading to conversion? For those who are intelligent Christians,181 keeping this in view, deal with the simple-minded, as parents do with very young182 children. We do not betake ourselves then to young persons and silly rustics, saying to them, “Flee from physicians.” Nor do we say, “See that none of you lay hold of knowledge;” nor do we assert that “knowledge is an evil;” nor are we mad enough to say that “knowledge causes men to lose their soundness of mind.” We would not even say that any one ever perished through wisdom; and although we give instruction, we never say, “Give heed to me,” but “Give heed to the God of all things, and to Jesus, the giver of instruction concerning Him.” And none of us is so great a braggart183 as to say what Celsus put in the mouth of one of our teachers to his acquaintances, “I alone will save you.” Observe here the lies which he utters against us! Moreover, we do not assert that “true physicians destroy those whom they promise to cure.”


Chap. LXXVI.

And he produces a second illustration to our disadvantage, saying that “our teacher acts like a drunken man, who, entering a company of drunkards, should accuse those who are sober of being drunk.” But let him show, say from the writings of Paul, that the apostle of Jesus gave way to drunkenness, and that his words were not those of soberness; or from the writings of John, that his thoughts do not breathe a spirit of temperance and of freedom from the intoxication of evil. No one, then, who is of sound mind, and teaches the doctrines of Christianity, gets drunk with wine; but Celsus utters these calumnies against us in a spirit very unlike that of a philosopher. Moreover, let Celsus say who those “sober” persons are whom the ambassadors of Christianity accuse. For in our judgment all are intoxicated who address themselves to inanimate objects as to God. And why do I say “intoxicated?” “Insane” would be the more appropriate word for those who hasten to temples and worship images or animals as divinities. And they too are not less insane who think that images, fashioned by men of worthless and sometimes most wicked character, confer any honour upon genuine divinities.184



He next likens our teacher to one suffering from ophthalmia, and his disciples to those suffering from the same disease, and says that “such an one amongst a company of those who are afflicted with ophthalmia, accuses those who are sharp-sighted of being blind.” Who, then, would we ask, O Greeks, are they who in our judgment do not see, save those who are unable to look up from the exceeding greatness of the world and its contents, and from the beauty of created things, and to see that they ought to worship, and admire, and reverence Him alone who made these things, and that it is not befitting to treat with reverence anything contrived by man, and applied to the honour of God, whether it be without a reference to the Creator, or with one?185 For, to compare with that illimitable excellence, which surpasses all created being, things which ought not to be brought into comparison with it, is the act of those whose understanding is darkened. We do not then say that those who are sharp-sighted are suffering from ophthalmia or blindness; but we assert that those who, in ignorance of God, give themselves to temples and images, and so-called sacred seasons,186 are blinded in their minds, and especially when, in addition to their impiety, they live also in licentiousness, not even inquiring after any honourable work whatever, but doing everything that is of a disgraceful character.



After having brought against us charges of so serious a kind, he wishes to make it appear that, although he has others to adduce, he passes them by in silence. His words are as follows: “These charges I have to bring against them, and others of a similar nature, not to enumerate them one by one, and I affirm that they are in error, and that they act insolently towards God, in order to lead on wicked men by empty hopes, and to persuade them to despise better things, saying that if they refrain from them it will be better for them.” In answer to which, it might be said that from the power which shows itself in those who are converted to Christianity, it is not at all the “wicked” who are won over to the Gospel, as the more simple class of persons, and, as many would term them, the “unpolished.”187 For such individuals, through fear of the punishments that are threatened, which arouses and exhorts them to refrain from those actions which are followed by punishments, strive to yield themselves up to the Christian religion, being influenced by the power of the word to such a degree, that through fear of what are called in the word “everlasting punishments,” they despise all the tortures which are devised against them among men, – even death itself, with countless other evils, – which no wise man would say is the act of persons of wicked mind. How can temperance and sober-mindedness, or benevolence and liberality, be practised by a man of wicked mind? Nay, even the fear of God cannot be felt by such an one, with respect to which, because it is useful to the many, the Gospel encourages those who are not yet able to choose that which ought to be chosen for its own sake, to select it as the greatest blessing, and one above all promise; for this principle cannot be implanted in him who prefers to live in wickedness.


Chap. LXXIX.

But if in these matters any one were to imagine that it is superstition rather than wickedness which appears in the multitude of those who believe the word, and should charge our doctrine with making men superstitious, we shall answer him by saying that, as a certain legislator188 replied to the question of one who asked him whether he had enacted for his citizens the best laws, that he had not given them absolutely the best, but the best which they were capable of receiving; so it might be said by the Father of the Christian doctrine, I have given the best laws and instruction for the improvement of morals of which the many were capable, not threatening sinners with imaginary labours and chastisements, but with such as are real, and necessary to be applied for the correction of those who offer resistance, although they do not at all understand the object of him who inflicts the punishment, nor the effect of the labours. For the doctrine of punishment is both attended with utility, and is agreeable to truth, and is stated in obscure terms with advantage.189 Moreover, as for the most part it is not the wicked whom the ambassadors of Christianity gain over, neither do we insult God. For we speak regarding Him both what is true, and what appears to be clear to the multitude, but not so clear to them as it is to those few who investigate the truths of the Gospel in a philosophical manner.


Chap. LXXX.

Seeing, however, that Celsus alleges that “Christians are won over by us through vain hopes,” we thus reply to him when he finds fault with our doctrine of the blessed life, and of communion with God: “As for you, good sir, they also are won over by vain hopes who have accepted the doctrine of Pythagoras and Plato regarding the soul, that it is its nature to ascend to the vault190 of heaven, and in the super-celestial space to behold the sights which are seen by the blessed spectators above. According to you, O Celsus, they also who have accepted the doctrine of the duration of the soul (after death), and who lead a life through which they become heroes, and make their abodes with the gods, are won over by vain hopes. Probably also they who are persuaded that the soul comes (into the body) from without, and that it will be withdrawn from the power of death,191 would be said by Celsus to be won over by empty hopes. Let him then come forth to the contest, no longer concealing the sect to which he belongs, but confessing himself to be an Epicurean, and let him meet the arguments, which are not lightly advanced among Greeks and Barbarians, regarding the immortality of the soul, or its duration (after death), or the immortality of the thinking principle;192 and let him prove that these are words which deceive with empty hopes those who give their assent to them; but that the adherents of his philosophical system are pure from empty hopes, and that they indeed lead to hopes of good, or – what is more in keeping with his opinions – give birth to no hope at all, on account of the immediate and complete destruction of the soul (after death). Unless, perhaps, Celsus and the Epicureans will deny that it is a vain hope which they entertain regarding their end, – pleasure, – which, according to them, is the supreme good, and which consists in the permanent health of the body, and the hope regarding it which is entertained by Epicurus.193


Chap. LXXXI.

And do not suppose that it is not in keeping with the Christian religion for me to have accepted, against Celsus, the opinions of those philosophers who have treated of the immortality or after-duration of the soul; for, holding certain views in common with them, we shall more conveniently establish our position, that the future life of blessedness shall be for those only who have accepted the religion which is according to Jesus, and that devotion towards the Creator of all things which is pure and sincere, and unmingled with any created thing whatever. And let him who likes show what “better things” we persuade men to despise, and let him compare the blessed end with God in Christ, – that is, the word, and the wisdom, and all virtue; – which, according to our view, shall be bestowed, by the gift of God, on those who have lived a pure and blameless life, and who have felt a single and undivided love for the God of all things, with that end which is to follow according to the teaching of each philosophic sect, whether it be Greek or Barbarian, or according to the professions of religious mysteries;194 and let him prove that the end which is predicted by any of the others is superior to that which we promise, and consequently that that is true, and ours not befitting the gift of God, nor those who have lived a good life; or let him prove that these words were not spoken by the divine Spirit, who filled the souls of the holy prophets. And let him who likes show that those words which are acknowledged among all men to be human, are superior to those which are proved to be divine, and uttered by inspiration.195 And what are the “better” things from which we teach those who receive them that it would be better to abstain? For if it be not arrogant so to speak, it is self-evident that nothing can be denied which is better than to entrust oneself to the God of all, and yield oneself up to the doctrine which raises us above all created things, and brings us, through the animate and living word – which is also living wisdom and the Son of God – to God who is over all. However, as the third book of our answers to the treatise of Celsus has extended to a sufficient length, we shall here bring our present remarks to a close, and in what is to follow shall meet what Celsus has subsequently written. 





141 φωνὴν συνετός.

142 [Much is to be gathered from this and the following chapters, of the evangelical character of primitive preaching and discipline.]

143 ἁπλῶς.

144 εὐδαιμονίαν.

145 μακαριότητα.

146 τὸ ἡγεμονικόν.

147 ἀψευδῆ.

148 συκοφαντῶν.

149 [The reproaches of the scoffer are very instructive as to the real nature of the primitive dealing with sinners and with sin.]

150 ὑπεξαιρομένου τοῦ κατὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν νοουμένου ἀνθρώπου.

151 προς κολακείαν.

152 In the text it is put interrogatively: τίς ἄνθρωπος τελέως δίκαιος; ἢ τίς ἀναμάρτητος; The allusion seems to be to Job_15:14 (Sept.): τίς γὰρ ὢν βροτὸς, ὅτι ἔσται ἄμεμπτος; ἢ ὡς ἐσόμενος δίκαιος γεννητὀς γυναικός;

153 και οὐ παρὰ τὸν ὀρθὸν λόγον προσάγοιτο ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐπὶ πᾶσι δικαστοῦ. [See infra, book iv. cap. lxxix, and Elucidations there named.]

154 [ ἐπιμόνως βεβαμμένοι. S.]

155 [ ὡσπεγεὶ δευσοποιηθέντες απὸ τῆς κακίας. S.]

156 [Let us note this in passing, as balancing some other expressions which could not have been used after the Pelagian controversy.]

157 He is said to have been either a Babylonian or Tyrrhenian, and to have lived in the rein of Nero. cf. Philostratus, iv. 1 2. – Ruaeus.

158 καὶ τὸ ἐξακουόμενον ἀπὸ τῆς λέξεως, ὡς δυνατὸν ἡμῖν, ἀνετρέψαμεν.

159 ἐπὶ τέγους. [“Ut quidam scripserunt,” says Hoffmann.]

160 μιαρώτατον ἀνθρώπων.

161 Ἀλλὰ τὴν μὲν τάξιν καὶ σύνθεσιν καὶ φράσιν τῶν ἀπὸ φιλοσοφίας λόγων.

162 The reading in the text is ἄλλως, for which which ἄλλους has been conjectured by Ruaeus and Boherellus, and which has been adopted in the translation.

163 ιδιωτικούς.

164 εὐσταθέστατον.

165 πιστικὴ ἀπὸ πνεύματος.

166 παρὰ τὰς ἀνατροφὰς, καὶ τὰς διαστροφὰς, καὶ τὰς περιηχήσεις.

167 φυσιωθῆναι.

168 [παρ ὦ οὐκ ἔστιν. S.]

169 cf. Iliad, ix. 319, 320.

170 προαίρεσις καὶ ἀσκησις.

171 τοῦ λογικοῦ ζώου.

172 ὥσπερ οὐ δύναται τὸ πεφυκὸς γλυκαίνειν τῷ γλυκυ τυγχάνειν πικράζειν, παρὰ την αὐτοῦ μόνην αἰτίαν.

173 ἵνα κοινότερον τῷ ἐλέει χρήσωμαι.

174 ἀστείους.

175 τοὺς μὴ ἐντρεχεῖς.

176 The reading in the text is τερατωδεστέρους, of which Ruaeus remarks, “Hic nullum habet locum.” Καταδεεστέρους has been conjectured instead, and has been adopted in the translation.

177 For εὐσεβεῖς in the text, Boherellus conjectures εὐσεβῶς.

178 θεὸν φθαρτὸν εἰσαγόντων, καὶ τὴν οὐσίαν αὐτοῦ λεγόντων σῶμα πρεπτὸν διόλου καὶ ἀλλοιωτὸν καὶ μεταβλητόν.

179 The words in the text are, φιλανθρωπότατα ἐπιστρεπτικὸν, καὶ ψυχῶν μαθήματα οἰκονομήσαντα, for which we have adopted in the translation the emendation of Boherellus, φιλανθρωπότατα καὶ ψυχῶν ἐπιστρεπτικὰ μαθήματα.

180 ἀλλὰ κἂν τοὺς πεπονθότας τὴν περὶ τῆς μετενσωματώσεως ἄνοιαν ἀπὸ ίατρῶν, τῶν καταβιβαζόντων τὴν λογικὴν φύσιν ὀτε μὲν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀλογον πᾶσαν, ὁτε δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ἀφάνταστον.

181 Instead of οἱ φρονίμως Χριστιανοὶ ζῶντες, as in the text, Ruaeus and Boherellus conjecture οι φρονίμως Χριστιανιζοντες, etc.

182 τοῦς κομιδῇ νηπίους.

183 ἀλαζών.

184 [See vol. 3. Elucidation I. p. 76, this series; and as against the insanity of the Deutero Nicene Council (a.d. 787) note this prophetic protest. Condemned at Frankfort (a.d. 794) by Anglicans and Gallicans. See Sir W. Palmer, Treatise on the Church, part iv. 10, sect. 4. The Council of Frankfort is the pivot of history as to the division between East and West, the rise of Gallicanism, and of the Anglican Reformation.]

185 ειτε χωρὶς τοῦ δημιουργοῦ θεοῦ εἴτε καὶ μετ ἐκείνου.

186 ἰερομηνίας.

187 The reading in the text is κομψοί, which is so opposed to the sense of the passage, that the conjecture of Guietus, ἀκομψοι, has been adopted in the translation.

188 [i.e., Solon. S.]

189 [See Gieseler’s Church History, vol. i. p. 212 (also 213), with references there. But see Elucidation IV. p. 77, vol. 3., this series, and Elucidation at close of this book. See also Robertson’s History of the Church, vol. i. p. 156. S.]

190 ἁψῖδα.

191 Τάχα δὲ καὶ οἱ πεισθέντες περὶ τοῦ θύραθεν νοῦ, ὡς θανάτου καινοῦ διεξαγωγὴν ἕξοντος, etc. Locus certe obscurus, cui lucem afferre conatur Boherellus, legendo divism ὡς θανάτου καὶ νοῦ διεξαγωγὴν ἕξοντος, ut sensus sit “morti etiam mentem subductum iri.” Nam si θύραθεν ἥκει νοῦς, consequens est ut θανάτου καὶ νοῦς διεξαγωγὴν ἔχη. cf. Aristot, lib. ii. c. 3, de generatione animalium. – Spencer.

192 ἢ τῆς τοῦ νοῦ ἀθανασίας.

193 Εἰ μὴ ἄρα Κέλσος καὶ οἱ Ἐπικούρειοι οὐ φήσουσι κούφην εἶναι ἐλπίδα τὴν περὶ τοῦ τέλους αὐτῶν τῆς ἡδονῆς, ἥτις κατ αὐτούς ἐστι τὸ ἀγαθὸν, τὸ τῆς σαρκὸς εὐσταθὲς κατάστημα, καὶ τὸ περὶ ταυτης πιστὸν Ὲπικούρῳ ἔλπισμα.

194 τῷ καθ ἑκάστην φιλοσόφων αἵρεσιν ἐν Ἕλλησιν ἢ βαρβάροις, ἢ μυστηριώδη ἐπαγγελίαν τέλει.

195 [Note the testimony to divine inspiration.]

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

Book IV.

Chap. I.

Having, in the three preceding books, fully stated what occurred to us by way of answer to the treatise of Celsus, we now, reverend Ambrosius, with prayer to God through Christ, offer this fourth book as a reply to what follows. And we pray that words may be given us, as it is written in the book of Jeremiah that the Lord said to the prophet: “Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth as fire. See, I have set thee this day over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, and to build and to plant.” (cf. Jer_1:9, Jer_1:10) For we need words now which will root out of every wounded soul the reproaches uttered against the truth by this treatise of Celsus, or which proceed from opinions like his. And we need also thoughts which will pull down all edifices based on false opinions, and especially the edifice raised by Celsus in his work which resembles the building of those who said “Come, let us build us a city, and a tower whose top shall reach to heaven.” (cf. Gen_11:4) Yea, we even require a wisdom which will throw down all high things that rise against the knowledge of God, (cf. 2Co_10:5) and especially that height of arrogance which Celsus displays against us. And in the next place, as we must not stop with rooting out and pulling down the hindrances which have just been mentioned, but must, in room of what has been rooted out, plant the plants of “God’s husbandry;” (cf. 1Co_3:9) and in place of what has been pulled down, rear up the building of God, and the temple of His glory, – we must for that reason pray also to the Lord, who bestowed the gifts named in the book of Jeremiah, that He may grant even to us words adapted both for building up the (temple) of Christ, and for planting the spiritual law, and the prophetic words referring to the same.1 And above all is it necessary to show, as against the assertions of Celsus which follow those he has already made, that the prophecies regarding Christ are true predictions. For, arraying himself at the same time against both parties – against the Jews on the one hand, who deny that the advent of Christ has taken place, but who expect it as future, and against Christians on the other, who acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ spoken of in prophecy – he makes the following statement: – 


Chap. II.

“But that certain Christians and (all) Jews should maintain, the former that there has already descended, the latter that there will descend, upon the earth a certain God, or Son of a God, who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous,2 is a most shameless assertion, and one the refutation of which does not need many words.” Now here he appears to pronounce correctly regarding not “certain” of the Jews, but all of them, that they imagine that there is a certain (God) who will descend upon the earth; and with regard to Christians, that certain of them say that He has already come down. For he means those who prove from the Jewish Scriptures that the advent of Christ has already taken place, and he seems to know that there are certain heretical sects which deny that Christ Jesus was predicted by the prophets. In the preceding pages, however, we have already discussed, to the best of our ability, the question of Christ having been the subject of prophecy, and therefore, to avoid tautology, we do not repeat much that might be advanced upon this head. Observe, now, that if he had wished with a kind of apparent force3 to subvert faith in the prophetic writings, either with regard to the future or past advent of Christ, he ought to have set forth the prophecies themselves which we Christians and Jews quote in our discussions with each other. For in this way he would have appeared to turn aside those who are carried away by the plausible character4 of the prophetic statements, as he regards it, from assenting to their truth, and from believing, on account of these prophecies, that Jesus is the Christ; whereas now, being unable to answer the prophecies relating to Christ, or else not knowing at all what are the prophecies relating to Him, he brings forward no prophetic declaration, although there are countless numbers which refer to Christ; but he thinks that he prefers an accusation against the prophetic Scriptures, while he does not even state what he himself would call their “plausible character!” He is not, however, aware that it is not at all the Jews who say that Christ will descend as a God, or the Son of a God, as we have shown in the foregoing pages. And when he asserts that “he is said by us to have already come, but by the Jews that his advent as Messiah5 is still future,” he appears by the very charge to censure our statement as one that is most shameless, and which needs no lengthened refutation.


Chap. III.

And he continues: “What is the meaning of such a descent upon the part of God?” not observing that, according to our teaching, the meaning of the descent is pre-eminently to convert what are called in the Gospel the lost “sheep of the house of Israel;” and secondly, to take away from them, on account of their disobedience, what is called the “kingdom of God,” and to give to other husbandmen than the ancient Jews, viz. to the Christians, who will render to God the fruits of His kingdom in due season (each action being a “fruit of the kingdom”).6 We shall therefore, out of a greater number, select a few remarks by way of answer to the question of Celsus, when he says, “What is the meaning of such a descent upon the part of God?” And Celsus here returns to himself an answer which would have been given neither by Jews nor by us, when he asks, “Was it in order to learn what goes on amongst men?” For not one of us asserts that it was in order to learn what goes on amongst men that Christ entered into this life. Immediately after, however, as if some would reply that it was “in order to learn what goes on among men,” he makes this objection to his own statement: “Does he not know all things?” Then, as if we were to answer that He does know all things, he raises a new question, saying, “Then he does know, but does not make (men) better, nor is it possible for him by means of his divine power to make (men) better.” Now all this on his part is silly talk;7 for God, by means of His word, which is continually passing from generation to generation into holy souls, and constituting them friends of God and prophets, does improve those who listen to His words; and by the coming of Christ He improves, through the doctrine of Christianity, not those who are unwilling, but those who have chosen the better life, and that which is pleasing to God. I do not know, moreover, what kind of improvement Celsus wished to take place when he raised the objection, asking, “Is it then not possible for him, by means of his divine power, to make (men) better, unless he send some one for that special purpose?”8 Would he then have the improvement to take place by God’s filling the minds of men with new ideas, removing at once the (inherent) wickedness, and implanting virtue (in its stead)?9 Another person now would inquire whether this was not inconsistent or impossible in the very nature of things; we, however, would say, “Grant it to be so, and let it be possible.” Where, then, is our free will?10 and what credit is there in assenting to the truth? or how is the rejection of what is false praiseworthy? But even if it were once granted that such a course was not only possible, but could be accomplished with propriety (by God), why would not one rather inquire (asking a question like that of Celsus) why it was not possible for God, by means of His divine power, to create men who needed no improvement, but who were of themselves virtuous and perfect, evil being altogether non-existent? These questions may perplex ignorant and foolish individuals, but not him who sees into the nature of things; for if you take away the spontaneity of virtue, you destroy its essence. But it would need an entire treatise to discuss these matters; and on this subject the Greeks have expressed themselves at great length in their works on providence. They truly would not say what Celsus has expressed in words, that “God knows (all things) indeed, but does not make (men) better, nor is able to do so by His divine power.” We ourselves have spoken in many parts of our writings on these points to the best of our ability, and the Holy Scriptures have established the same to those who are able to understand them.


Chap. IV.

The argument which Celsus employs against us and the Jews will be turned against himself thus: My good sir, does the God who is over all things know what takes place among men, or does He not know? Now if you admit the existence of a God and of providence, as your treatise indicates, He must of necessity know. And if He does know, why does He not make (men) better? Is it obligatory, then, on us to defend God’s procedure in not making men better, although He knows their state, but not equally binding on you, who do not distinctly show by your treatise that you are an Epicurean, but pretend to recognise a providence, to explain why God, although knowing all that takes place among men, does not make them better, nor by divine power liberate all men from evil? We are not ashamed, however, to say that God is constantly sending (instructors) in order to make men better; for there are to be found amongst men reasons11 given by God which exhort them to enter on a better life. But there are many diversities amongst those who serve God, and they are few in number who are perfect and pure ambassadors of the truth, and who produce a complete reformation, as did Moses and the prophets. But above all these, great was the reformation effected by Jesus, who desired to heal not only those who lived in one corner of the world, but as far as in Him lay, men in every country, for He came as the Saviour of all men.


Chap. V.

The illustrious12 Celsus, taking occasion I know not from what, next raises an additional objection against us, as if we asserted that “God Himself will come down to men.” He imagines also that it follows from this, that “He has left His own abode;” for he does not know the power of God, and that “the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world, and that which upholdeth all things hath knowledge of the voice.”13 Nor is he able to understand the words, “Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” (cf. Jer_23:24) Nor does he see that, according to the doctrine of Christianity, we all “in Him live, and move, and have our being,” (cf. Act_17:28) as Paul also taught in his address to the Athenians; and therefore, although the God of the universe should through His own power descend with Jesus into the life of men, and although the Word which was in the beginning with God, which is also God Himself, should come to us, He does not give His place or vacate His own seat, so that one place should be empty of Him, and another which did not formerly contain Him be filled. But the power and divinity of God comes through him whom God chooses, and resides in him in whom it finds a place, not changing its situation, nor leaving its own place empty and filling another: for, in speaking of His quitting one place and occupying another, we do not mean such expressions to be taken topically; but we say that the soul of the bad man, and of him who is overwhelmed in wickedness, is abandoned by God, while we mean that the soul of him who wishes to live virtuously, or of him who is making progress (in a virtuous life), or who is already living conformably thereto, is filled with or becomes a partaker of the Divine Spirit. It is not necessary, then, for the descent of Christ, or for the coming of God to men, that He should abandon a greater seat, and that things on earth should be changed, as Celsus imagines when he says, “If you were to change a single one, even the least, of things on earth, all things would be overturned and disappear.” And if we must speak of a change in any one by the appearing of the power of God, and by the entrance of the word among men, we shall not be reluctant to speak of changing from a wicked to a virtuous, from a dissolute to a temperate, and from a superstitious to a religious life, the person who has allowed the word of God to find entrance into his soul.


Chap. VI

But if you will have us to meet the most ridiculous among the charges of Celsus, listen to him when he says: “Now God, being unknown amongst men, and deeming himself on that account to have less than his due,14 would desire to make himself known, and to make trial both of those who believe upon him and of those who do not, like those of mankind who have recently come into the possession of riches, and who make a display of their wealth; and thus they testify to an excessive but very mortal ambition on the part of God.”15 We answer, then, that God, not being known by wicked men, would desire to make Himself known, not because He thinks that He meets with less than His due, but because the knowledge of Him will free the possessor from unhappiness. Nay, not even with the desire to try those who do or who do not believe upon Him, does He, by His unspeakable and divine power, Himself take up His abode in certain individuals, or send His Christ; but He does this in order to liberate from all their wretchedness those who do believe upon Him, and who accept His divinity, and that those who do not believe may no longer have this as a ground of excuse, viz., that their unbelief is the consequence of their not having heard the word of instruction. What argument, then, proves that it follows from our views that God, according to our representations, is “like those of mankind who have recently come into the possession of riches, and who make a display of their wealth?” For God makes no display towards us, from a desire that we should understand and consider His pre-eminence; but desiring that the blessedness which results from His being known by us should be implanted in our souls, He brings it to pass through Christ, and His ever-indwelling word, that we come to an intimate fellowship16 with Him. No mortal ambition, then, does the Christian doctrine testify as existing on the part of God.


Chap. VII.

I do not know how it is, that after the foolish remarks which he has made upon the subject which we have just been discussing, he should add the following, that “God does not desire to make himself known for his own sake, but because he wishes to bestow upon us the knowledge of himself for the sake of our salvation, in order that those who accept it may become virtuous and be saved, while those who do not accept may be shown to be wicked and be punished.” And yet, after making such a statement, he raises a new objection, saying: “After so long a period of time,17 then, did God now bethink himself of making men live righteous lives,18 but neglect to do so before?” To which we answer, that there never was a time when God did not wish to make men live righteous lives; but He continually evinced His care for the improvement of the rational animal,19 by affording him occasions for the exercise of virtue. For in every generation the wisdom of God, passing into those souls which it ascertains to be holy, converts them into friends and prophets of God. And there may be found in the sacred book (the names of) those who in each generation were holy, and were recipients of the Divine Spirit, and who strove to convert their contemporaries so far as in their power.


Chap. VIII.

And it is not matter of surprise that in certain generations there have existed prophets who, in the reception of divine influence,20 surpassed, by means of their stronger and more powerful (religious) life, other prophets who were their contemporaries, and others also who lived before and after them. And so it is not at all wonderful that there should also have been a time when something of surpassing excellence21 took up its abode among the human race, and which was distinguished above all that preceded or even that followed. But there is an element of profound mystery in the account of these things, and one which is incapable of being received by the popular understanding. And in order that these difficulties should be made to disappear, and that the objections raised against the advent of Christ should be answered – viz., that, “after so long a period of time, then, did God now bethink himself of making men live righteous lives, but neglect to do so before?” – it is necessary to touch upon the narrative of the divisions (of the nations), and to make it evident why it was, that “when the Most High divided the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God, and the portion of the Lord was His people Jacob, Israel the cord of His inheritance;”22 and it will be necessary to state the reason why the birth of each man took place within each particular boundary, under him who obtained the boundary by lot, and how it rightly happened that “the portion of the Lord was His people Jacob, and Israel the cord of His inheritance,” and why formerly the portion of the Lord was His people Jacob, and Israel the cord of His inheritance. But with respect to those who come after, it is said to the Saviour by the Father, “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” (cf. Psa_2:8) For there are certain connected and related reasons, bearing upon the different treatment of human souls, which are difficult to state and to investigate.23


Chap. IX.

There came, then, although Celsus may not wish to admit it, after the numerous prophets who were the reformers of that well-known Israel, the Christ, the Reformer of the whole world, who did not need to employ against men whips, and chains, and tortures, as was the case under the former economy. For when the sower went forth to sow, the doctrine sufficed to sow the word everywhere. But if there is a time coming which will necessarily circumscribe the duration of the world, by reason of its having had a beginning, and if there is to be an end to the world, and after the end a just judgment of all things, it will be incumbent on him who treats the declarations of the Gospels philosophically, to establish these doctrines by arguments of all kinds, not only derived directly from the sacred Scriptures, but also by inferences deducible from them; while the more numerous and simpler class of believers, and those who are unable to comprehend the many varied aspects of the divine wisdom, must entrust themselves to God, and to the Saviour of our race, and be contented with His “ipse dixit,”24 instead of this or any other demonstration whatever.


Chap. X.

In the next place, Celsus, as is his custom having neither proved nor established anything, proceeds to say, as if we talked of God in a manner that was neither holy nor pious, that “it is perfectly manifest that they babble about God in a way that is neither holy nor reverential;” and he imagines that we do these things to excite the astonishment of the ignorant, and that we do not speak the truth regarding the necessity of punishments for those who have sinned. And accordingly he likens us to those who “in the Bacchic mysteries introduce phantoms and objects of terror.” With respect to the mysteries of Bacchus, whether there is any trustworthy25 account of them, or none that is such, let the Greeks tell, and let Celsus and his boon-companions26 listen. But we defend our own procedure, When we say that our object is to reform the human race, either by the threats of punishments which we are persuaded are necessary for the whole world,27 and which perhaps are not without use28 to those who are to endure them; or by the promises made to those who have lived virtuous lives, and in which are contained the statements regarding the blessed termination which is to be found in the kingdom of God, reserved for those who are worthy of becoming His subjects.


Chap. XI.

After this, being desirous to show that it is nothing either wonderful or new which we state regarding floods or conflagrations, but that, from misunderstanding the accounts of these things which are current among Greeks or barbarous nations, we have accorded our belief to our own Scriptures when treating of them, he writes as follows: “The belief has spread among them, from a misunderstanding of the accounts of these occurrences, that after lengthened cycles of time, and the returns and conjunctions of planets, conflagrations and floods are wont to happen, and because after the last flood, which took place in the time of Deucalion, the lapse of time, agreeably to the vicissitude of all things, requires a conflagration and this made them give utterance to the erroneous opinion that God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer.” Now in answer to this we say, that I do not understand how Celsus, who has read a great deal, and who shows that he has perused many histories, had not his attention arrested29 by the antiquity of Moses, who is related by certain Greek historians to have lived about the time of Inachus the son of Phoroneus, and is acknowledged by the Egyptians to be a man of great antiquity, as well as by those who have studied the history of the Phoenicians. And any one who likes may peruse the two books of Flavius Josephus on the antiquities of the Jews, in order that he may see in what way Moses was more ancient than those who asserted that floods and conflagrations take place in the world after long intervals of time; which statement Celsus alleges the Jews and Christians to have misunderstood, and, not comprehending what was said about a conflagration, to have declared that “God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer.”30


Chap. XII.

Whether, then, there are cycles of time, and floods, or conflagrations which occur periodically or not, and whether the Scripture is aware of this, not only in many passages, but especially where Solomon31 says, “What is the thing which hath been? Even that which shall be. And what is the thing which hath been done? Even that which shall be done,” (cf. Ecc_1:9) etc., etc., belongs not to the present occasion to discuss. For it is sufficient only to observe, that Moses and certain of the prophets, being men of very great antiquity, did not receive from others the statements relating to the (future) conflagration of the world; but, on the contrary (if we must attend to the matter of time32), others rather misunderstanding them, and not inquiring accurately into their statements, invented the fiction of the same events recurring at certain intervals, and differing neither in their essential nor accidental qualities.33 But we do not refer either the deluge or the conflagration to cycles and planetary periods; but the cause of them we declare to be the extensive prevalence of wickedness,34 and its (consequent) removal by a deluge or a conflagration. And if the voices of the prophets say that God “comes down,” who has said, “Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord,” (cf. Jer_23:24) the term is used in a figurative sense. For God “comes down” from His own height and greatness when He arranges the affairs of men, and especially those of the wicked. And as custom leads men to say that teachers “condescend”35 to children, and wise men to those youths who have just betaken themselves to philosophy, not by “descending” in a bodily manner; so, if God is said anywhere in the holy Scriptures to “come down,” it is understood as spoken in conformity with the usage which so employs the word, and, in like manner also with the expression “go up.”36


Chap. XIII.

But as it is in mockery that Celsus says we speak of “God coming down like a torturer bearing fire,” and thus compels us unseasonably to investigate words of deeper meaning, we shall make a few remarks, sufficient to enable our hearers to form an idea37 of the defence which disposes of the ridicule of Celsus against us, and then we shall turn to what follows. The divine word says that our God is “a consuming fire,” (cf. Deu_4:24, Deu_9:3) and that “He draws rivers of fire before Him;” (cf. Dan_7:10) nay, that He even entereth in as “a refiner’s fire, and as a fuller’s herb,” (cf. Mal_3:2) to purify His own people. But when He is said to be a “consuming fire,” we inquire what are the things which are appropriate to be consumed by God. And we assert that they are wickedness, and the works which result from it, and which, being figuratively called “wood, hay, stubble,” (cf. 1Co_3:12) God consumes as a fire. The wicked man, accordingly, is said to build up on the previously-laid foundation of reason, “wood, and hay, and stubble.” If, then, any one can show that these words were differently understood by the writer, and can prove that the wicked man literally38 builds up “wood, or hay, or stubble,” it is evident that the fire must be understood to be material, and an object of sense. But if, on the contrary, the works of the wicked man are spoken of figuratively under the names of “wood, or hay, or stubble,” why does it not at once occur (to inquire) in what sense the word “fire” is to be taken, so that “wood” of such a kind should be consumed? for (the Scripture) says: “The fire will try each man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work be burned, he shall suffer loss.” (cf. 1Co_3:13-15) But what work can be spoken of in these words as being “burned,” save all that results from wickedness? Therefore our God is a “consuming fire” in the sense in which we have taken the word; and thus He enters in as a “refiner’s fire,” to refine the rational nature, which has been filled with the lead of wickedness, and to free it from the other impure materials, which adulterate the natural gold or silver, so to speak, of the soul.39 And, in like manner, “rivers of fire” are said to be before God, who will thoroughly cleanse away the evil which is intermingled throughout the whole soul.40 But these remarks are sufficient in answer to the assertion, “that thus they were made to give expression to the erroneous opinion that God will come down bearing fire like a torturer.”


Chap. XIV.

But let us look at what Celsus next with great ostentation announces in the following fashion: “And again,” he says, “let us resume the subject from the beginning, with a larger array of proofs. And I make no new statement, but say what has been long settled. God is good, and beautiful, and blessed, and that in the best and most beautiful degree.41 But if he come down among men, he must undergo a change, and a change from good to evil, from virtue to vice, from happiness to misery, and from best to worst. Who, then, would make choice of such a change? It is the nature of a mortal, indeed, to undergo change and remoulding, but of an immortal to remain the same and unaltered. God, then, could not admit of such a change.” Now it appears to me that the fitting answer has been returned to these objections, when I have related what is called in Scripture the “condescension”42 of God to human affairs; for which purpose He did not need to undergo a transformation, as Celsus thinks we assert, nor a change from good to evil, nor from virtue to vice, nor from happiness to misery, nor from best to worst. For, continuing unchangeable in His essence, He condescends to human affairs by the economy of His providence.43 We show, accordingly, that the holy Scriptures represent God as unchangeable, both by such words as “Thou art the same,” (Psa_102:27) and “I change not;” (Mal_3:6) whereas the gods of Epicurus, being composed of atoms, and, so far as their structure is concerned, capable of dissolution, endeavour to throw off the atoms which contain the elements of destruction. Nay, even the god of the Stoics, as being corporeal, at one time has his whole essence composed of the guiding principle44 when the conflagration (of the world) takes place; and at another, when a rearrangement of things occurs, he again becomes partly material.45 For even the Stoics were unable distinctly to comprehend the natural idea of God, as of a being altogether incorruptible and simple, and uncompounded and indivisible.


Chap. XV.

And with respect to His having descended among men, He was “previously in the form of God;” (cf. Phi_2:6, Phi_2:7) and through benevolence, divested Himself (of His glory), that He might be capable of being received by men. But He did not, I imagine, undergo any change from “good to evil,” for “He did no sin;” (cf. 1Pe_2:22) nor from “virtue to vice,” for “He knew no sin.” (cf. 2Co_5:21) Nor did He pass from “happiness to misery,” but He humbled Himself, and nevertheless was blessed, even when His humiliation was undergone in order to benefit our race. Nor was there any change in Him from “best to worst,” for how can goodness and benevolence be of “the worst?” Is it befitting to say of the physician, who looks on dreadful sights and handles unsightly objects in order to cure the sufferers, that he passes from “good to evil,” or from “virtue to vice,” or from “happiness to misery?” And yet the physician, in looking on dreadful sights and handling unsightly objects, does not wholly escape the possibility of being involved in the same fate. But He who heals the wounds of our souls, through the word of God that is in Him, is Himself incapable of admitting any wickedness. But if the immortal God – the Word46 – by assuming a mortal body and a human soul, appears to Celsus to undergo a change and transformation, let him learn that the Word, still remaining essentially the Word, suffers none of those things which are suffered by the body or the soul; but, condescending occasionally to (the weakness of) him who is unable to look upon the splendours and brilliancy of Deity, He becomes as it were flesh, speaking with a literal voice, until he who has received Him in such a form is able, through being elevated in some slight degree by the teaching of the Word, to gaze upon what is, so to speak, His real and pre-eminent appearance.47


Chap. XVI.

For there are different appearances, as it were, of the Word, according as He shows Himself to each one of those who come to His doctrine; and this in a manner corresponding to the condition of him who is just becoming a disciple, or of him who has made a little progress, or of him who has advanced further, or of him who has already nearly attained to virtue, or who has even already attained it. And hence it is not the case, as Celsus and those like him would have it, that our God was transformed, and ascending the lofty mountain, showed that His real appearance was something different, and far more excellent than what those who remained below, and were unable to follow Him on high, beheld. For those below did not possess eyes capable of seeing the transformation of the Word into His glorious and more divine condition. But with difficulty were they able to receive Him as He was; so that it might be said of Him by those who were unable to behold His more excellent nature: “We saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness; but His form was mean,48 and inferior to that of the sons of men.”49 And let these remarks be an answer to the suppositions of Celsus, who does not understand the changes or transformations of Jesus, as related in the histories, nor His mortal and immortal nature.50


Chap. XVII.

But will not those narratives, especially when they are understood in their proper sense, appear far more worthy of respect than the story that Dionysus was deceived by the Titans, and expelled from the throne of Jupiter, and torn in pieces by them, and his remains being afterwards put together again, he returned as it were once more to life, and ascended to heaven? Or are the Greeks at liberty to refer such stories to the doctrine of the soul, and to interpret them figuratively, while the door of a consistent explanation, and one everywhere in accord and harmony with the writings of the Divine Spirit, who had His abode in pure souls, is closed against us? Celsus, then, is altogether ignorant of the purpose of our writings, and it is therefore upon his own acceptation of them that he casts discredit, and not upon their real meaning; whereas, if he had reflected on what is appropriate51 to a soul which is to enjoy an everlasting life, and on the opinion which we are to form of its essence and principles, he would not so have ridiculed the entrance of the immortal into a mortal body, which took place not according to the metempsychosis of Plato, but agreeably to another and higher view of things. And he would have observed one “descent,” distinguished by its great benevolence, undertaken to convert (as the Scripture mystically terms them) the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” which had strayed down from the mountains, and to which the Shepherd is said in certain parables to have gone down, leaving on the mountains those “which had not strayed.”


Chap. XVIII.

But Celsus, lingering over matters which he does not understand, leads us to be guilty of tautology, as we do not wish even in appearance to leave any one of his objections unexamined. He proceeds, accordingly, as follows: “God either really changes himself, as these assert, into a mortal body, and the impossibility of that has been already declared; Or else he does not undergo a change, but only causes the beholders to imagine so, and thus deceives them, and is guilty of falsehood. Now deceit and falsehood are nothing but evils, and would only be employed as a medicine, either in the case of sick and lunatic friends, with a view to their cure, or in that of enemies when one is taking measures to escape danger. But no sick man or lunatic is a friend of God, nor does God fear any one to such a degree as to shun danger by leading him into error.” Now the answer to these statements might have respect partly to the nature of the Divine Word, who is God, and partly to the soul of Jesus. As respects the nature of the Word, in the same way as the quality of the food changes in the nurse into milk with reference to the nature of the child, or is arranged by the physician with a view to the good of his health in the case of a sick man or (is specially) prepared for a stronger man, because he possesses greater vigour, so does God appropriately change, in the case of each individual, the power of the Word to which belongs the natural property of nourishing the human soul. And to one is given, as the Scripture terms it, “the sincere milk of the word;” and to another, who is weaker, as it were, “herbs;” and to another who is full-grown, “strong meat.” And the Word does not, I imagine, prove false to His own nature, in contributing nourishment to each one, according as he is capable of receiving Him.52 Nor does He mislead or prove false. But if one were to take the change as referring to the soul of Jesus after it had entered the body, we would inquire in what sense the term “change” is used. For if it be meant to apply to its essence, such a supposition is inadmissible, not only in relation to the soul of Jesus, but also to the rational soul of any other being. And if it be alleged that it suffers anything from the body when united with it, or from the place to which it has come, then what inconvenience53 can happen to the Word who, in great benevolence, brought down a Saviour to the human race? – seeing none of those who formerly professed to effect a cure could accomplish so much as that soul showed it could do, by what it performed, even by voluntarily descending to the level of human destinies for the benefit of our race. And the Divine Word, well knowing this, speaks to that effect in many passages of Scripture, although it is sufficient at present to quote one testimony of Paul to the following effect: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.” (Phi_2:5-9)


Chap. XIX.

Others, then, may concede to Celsus that God does not undergo a change, but leads the spectators to imagine that He does; whereas we who are persuaded that the advent of Jesus among men was no mere appearance, but a real manifestation, are not affected by this charge of Celsus. We nevertheless will attempt a reply, because you assert, Celsus, do you not, that it is sometimes allowable to employ deceit and falsehood by way, as it were, of medicine?54 Where, then, is the absurdity, if such a saving result were to be accomplished, that some such events should have taken place? For certain words, when savouring of falsehood, produce upon such characters a corrective effect (like the similar declarations of physicians to their patients), rather than when spoken in the spirit of truth. This, however, must be our defence against other opponents. For there is no absurdity in Him who healed sick friends, healing the dear human race by means of such remedies as He would not employ preferentially, but only according to circumstances.55 The human race, moreover, when in a state of mental alienation, had to be cured by methods which the Word saw would aid in bringing back those so afflicted to a sound state of mind. But Celsus says also, that “one acts thus towards enemies when taking measures to escape danger. But God does not fear any one, so as to escape danger by leading into error those who conspire against him.” Now it is altogether unnecessary and absurd to answer a charge which is advanced by no one against our Saviour. And we have already replied, when answering other charges, to the statement that “no one who is either in a state of sickness or mental alienation is a friend of God.” For the answer is, that such arrangements have been made, not for the sake of those who, being already friends, afterwards fell sick or became afflicted with mental disease, but in order that those who were still enemies through sickness of the soul, and alienation of the natural reason, might become the friends of God. For it is distinctly stated that Jesus endured all things on behalf of sinners, that He might free them from sin, and convert them to righteousness.


Chap. XX.

In the next place, as he represents the Jews accounting in a way peculiar to themselves for their belief that the advent of Christ among them is still in the future, and the Christians as maintaining in their way that the coming of the Son of God into the life of men has already taken place, let us, as far as we can, briefly consider these points. According to Celsus, the Jews say that “(human) life, being filled with all wickedness, needed one sent from God, that the wicked might be punished, and all things purified in a manner analogous to the first deluge which happened.” And as the Christians are said to make statements additional to this, it is evident that he alleges that they admit these. Now, where is the absurdity in the coming of one who is, on account of the prevailing flood of wickedness, to purify the world, and to treat every one according to his deserts? For it is not in keeping with the character of God that the diffusion of wickedness should not cease, and all things be renewed. The Greeks, moreover, know of the earth’s being purified at certain times by a deluge or a fire, as Plato, too, says somewhere to this effect: “And when the gods overwhelm the earth, purifying it with water, some of them on the mountains,”56 etc., etc. Must it be said, then, that if the Greeks make such assertions, they are to be deemed worthy of respect and consideration, but that if we too maintain certain of these views, which are quoted with approval by the Greeks, they cease to be honourable? And yet they who care to attend to the connection and truth of all our records, will endeavour to establish not only the antiquity of the writers, but the venerable nature of their writings, and the consistency of their several parts.


Chap. XXI.

But I do not understand how he can imagine the overturning of the tower (of Babel) to have happened with a similar object to that of the deluge, which effected a purification of the earth, according to the accounts both of Jews and Christians. For, in order that the narrative contained in Genesis respecting the tower may be held to convey no secret meaning, but, as Celsus supposes, may be taken as true to the letter,57 the event does not on such a view appear to have taken place for the purpose of purifying the earth; unless, indeed, he imagines that the so-called confusion of tongues is such a purificatory process. But on this point, he who has the opportunity will treat more seasonably when his object is to show not only what is the meaning of the narrative in its historical connection, but what metaphorical meaning may be deduced from it.58 Seeing that he imagines, however, that Moses, who wrote the account of the tower, and the confusion of tongues, has perverted the story of the sons of Aloeus,59 and referred it to the tower, we must remark that I do not think any one prior to the time of Homer60 has mentioned the sons of Aloeus, while I am persuaded that what is related about the tower has been recorded by Moses as being much older not only than Homer, but even than the invention of letters among the Greeks. Who, then, are the perverters of each other’s narratives? Whether do they who relate the story of the Aloadae pervert the history of the time, or he who wrote the account of the tower and the confusion of tongues the story of the Aloadae? Now to impartial hearers Moses appears to be more ancient than Homer. The destruction by fire, moreover, of Sodom and Gomorrah on account of their sins, related by Moses in Genesis, is compared by Celsus to the story of Phaëthon, – all these statements of his resulting from one blunder, viz., his not attending to the (greater) antiquity of Moses.61 For they who relate the story of Phaëthon seem to be younger even than Homer, who, again, is much younger than Moses. We do not deny, then, that the purificatory fire and the destruction of the world took place in order that evil might be swept away, and all things be renewed; for we assert that we have learned these things from the sacred books of the prophets. But since, as we have said in the preceding pages, the prophets, in uttering many predictions regarding future events, show that they have spoken the truth concerning many things that are past, and thus give evidence of the indwelling of the Divine Spirit, it is manifest that, with respect to things still future, we should repose faith in them, or rather in the Divine Spirit that is in them. 


Chap. XXII.

But, according to Celsus, “the Christians, making certain additional statements to those of the Jews, assert that the Son of God has been already sent on account of the sins of the Jews; and that the Jews hating chastised Jesus, and given him gall to drink, have brought upon themselves the divine wrath.” And any one who likes may convict this statement of falsehood, if it be not the case that the whole Jewish nation was overthrown within one single generation after Jesus had undergone these sufferings at their hands. For forty and two years, I think, after the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, did the destruction of Jerusalem take place. Now it has never been recorded, since the Jewish nation began to exist, that they have been expelled for so long a period from their venerable temple-worship62 and service, and enslaved by more powerful nations; for if at any time they appeared to be abandoned because of their sins, they were notwithstanding visited (by God),63 and returned to their own country, and recovered their possessions, and performed unhindered the observances of their law. One fact, then, which proves that Jesus was something divine and sacred,64 is this, that Jews should have suffered on His account now for a lengthened time calamities of such severity. And we say with confidence that they will never be restored to their former condition.65 For they committed a crime of the most unhallowed kind, in conspiring against the Saviour of the human race in that city where they offered up to God a worship containing the symbols of mighty mysteries. It accordingly behoved that city where Jesus underwent these sufferings to perish utterly, and the Jewish nation to be overthrown, and the invitation to happiness offered them by God to pass to others, – the Christians, I mean, to whom has come the doctrine of a pure and holy worship, and who have obtained new laws, in harmony with the established constitution in all countries;66 seeing those which were formerly imposed, as on a single nation which was ruled by princes of its own race and of similar manners,67 could not now be observed in all their entireness.


Chap. XXIII.

In the next place, ridiculing after his usual style the race of Jews and Christians, he compares them all “to a flight of bats or to a swarm of ants issuing out of their nest, or to frogs holding council in a marsh, or to worms crawling together in the comer of a dunghill, and quarrelling with one another as to which of them were the greater sinners, and asserting that God shows and announces to us all things beforehand; and that, abandoning the whole world, and the regions of heaven,68 and this great earth, he becomes a citizen69 among us alone, and to us alone makes his intimations, and does not cease sending and inquiring, in what way we may be associated with him for ever.” And in his fictitious representation, he compares us to “ worms which assert that there is a God, and that immediately after him, we who are made by him are altogether like unto God, and that all things have been made subject to us, – earth, and water, and air, and stars, – and that all things exist for our sake, and are ordained to be subject to us.” And, according to his representation, the worms – that is, we ourselves – say that “now, since certain amongst us commit sin, God will come or will send his Son to consume the wicked with fire, that the rest of us may have eternal life with him.” And to all this he subjoins the remark, that “such wranglings would be more endurable amongst worms and frogs than betwixt Jews and Christians.”


Chap. XXIV.

In reply to these, we ask of those who accept such aspersions as are scattered against us, Do you regard all men as a collection of bats, or as frogs, or as worms, in consequence of the pre-eminence of God? or do you not include the rest of mankind in this proposed comparison, but on account of their possession of reason, and of the established laws, treat them as men, while you hold cheap70 Christians and Jews, because their opinions are distasteful to you, and compare them to the animals above mentioned? And whatever answer you may return to our question, we shall reply by endeavouring to show that such assertions are most unbecoming, whether spoken of all men in general, or of us in particular. For, let it be supposed that you say justly that all men, as compared with God, are (rightly) likened to these worthless71 animals, since their littleness is not at all to be compared with the superiority of God, what then do you mean by littleness? Answer me, good sirs. If you refer to littleness of body, know that superiority and inferiority, if truth is to be judge, are not determined by a bodily standard.72 For, on such a view, vultures73 and elephants would be superior to us men; for they are larger, and stronger, and longer-lived than we. But no sensible person would maintain that these irrational creatures are superior to rational beings, merely on account of their bodies: for the possession of reason raises a rational being to a vast superiority over all irrational creatures. Even the race of virtuous and blessed beings would admit this, whether they are, as ye say, good demons, or, as we are accustomed to call them, the angels of God, or any other natures whatever superior to that of man, since the rational faculty within them has been made perfect, and endowed with all virtuous qualities.74


Chap. XXV.

But if you depreciate the littleness of man, not on account of his body, but of his soul, regarding it as inferior to that of other rational beings, and especially of those who are virtuous; and inferior, because evil dwells in it, – why should those among Christians who are wicked, and those among the Jews who lead sinful lives, be termed a collection of bats, or ants, or worms, or frogs, rather than those individuals among other nations who are guilty of wickedness? – seeing, in this respect, any individual whatever, especially if carried away by the tide of evil, is, in comparison with the rest of mankind, a bat, and worm, and frog, and ant. And although a man may be an orator like Demosthenes, yet, if stained with wickedness like his,75 and guilty of deeds proceeding, like his, from a wicked nature; or an Antiphon, who was also considered to be indeed an orator, yet who annihilated the doctrine of providence in his writings, which were entitled Concerning Truth, like that discourse of Celsus, – such individuals are notwithstanding worms, rolling in a comer of the dung-heap of stupidity and ignorance. Indeed, whatever be the nature of the rational faculty, it could not reasonably be compared to a worm, because it possesses capabilities of virtue.76 For these adumbrations77 towards virtue do not allow of those who possess the power of acquiring it, and who are incapable of wholly losing its seeds, to be likened to a worm. It appears, therefore, that neither can men in general be deemed worms in comparison with God. For reason, having its beginning in the reason of God, cannot allow of the rational animal being considered wholly alien from Deity. Nor can those among Christians and Jews who are wicked, and who, in truth, are neither Christians nor Jews, be compared, more than other wicked men, to worms rolling in a corner of a dunghill. And if the nature of reason will not permit of such comparisons, it is manifest that we must not calumniate human nature, which has been formed for virtue, even if it should sin through ignorance, nor liken it to animals of the kind described.


Chap. XXVI.

But if it is on account of those opinions of the Christians and Jews which displease Celsus (and which he does not at all appear to understand) that they are to be regarded as worms and ants, and the rest of mankind as different, let us examine the acknowledged opinions of Christians and Jews,78 and compare them with those of the rest of mankind, and see whether it will not appear to those who have once admitted that certain men are worms and ants, that they are the worms and ants and frogs who have fallen away from sound views of God, and, under a vain appearance of piety,79 worship either irrational animals, or images, or other objects, the works of men’s hands;80 whereas, from the beauty of such, they ought to admire the Maker of them, and worship Him: while those are indeed men, and more honourable than men (if there be anything that is so), who, in obedience to their reason, are able to ascend from stocks and stones,81 nay, even from what is reckoned the most precious of all matter – silver and gold; and who ascend up also from the beautiful things in the world to the Maker of all, and entrust themselves to Him who alone is able to satisfy82 all existing things, and to overlook the thoughts of all, and to hear the prayers of all; who send up their prayers to Him, and do all things as in the presence of Him who beholds everything, and who are careful, as in the presence of the Hearer of all things, to say nothing which might not with propriety be reported to God. Will not such piety as this – which can be overcome neither by labours, nor by the dangers of death, nor by logical plausibilities83 – be of no avail in preventing those who have obtained it from being any longer compared to worms, even if they had been so represented before their assumption of a piety so remarkable? Will they who subdue that fierce longing for sexual pleasures which has reduced the souls of many to a weak and feeble condition, and who subdue it because they are persuaded that they cannot otherwise have communion with God, unless they ascend to Him through the exercise of temperance, appear to you to be the brothers of worms, and relatives of ants, and to bear a likeness to frogs? What! is the brilliant quality of justice, which keeps inviolate the rights common to our neighbour, and our kindred, and which observes fairness, and benevolence, and goodness, of no avail in saving him who practises it from being termed a bird of the night? And are not they who wallow in dissoluteness, as do the majority of mankind, and they who associate promiscuously with common harlots, and who teach that such practices are not wholly contrary to propriety, worms who roll in mire? – especially when they are compared with those who have been taught not to take the “members of Christ,” and the body inhabited by the Word, and make them the “members of a harlot;” and who have already learned that the body of the rational being, as consecrated to the God of all things, is the temple of the God whom they worship, becoming such from the pure conceptions which they entertain of the Creator, and who also, being careful not to corrupt the temple of God by unlawful pleasure; practise temperance as constituting piety towards God!


Chap. XXVII.

And I have not yet spoken of the other evils which prevail amongst men, from which even those who have the appearance of philosophers are not speedily freed, for in philosophy there are many pretenders. Nor do I say anything on the point that many such evils are found to exist among those who are neither Jews nor Christians. Of a truth, such evil practices do not at all prevail among Christians, if you properly examine what constitutes a Christian. Or, if any persons of that kind should be discovered, they are at least not to be found among those who frequent the assemblies, and come to the public prayers, without their being excluded from them, unless it should happen, and that rarely, that some one individual of such a character escapes notice in the crowd. We, then, are not worms who assemble together; who take our stand against the Jews on those Scriptures which they believe to be divine, and who show that He who was spoken of in prophecy has come, and that they have been abandoned on account of the greatness of their sins, and that we who have accepted the Word have the highest hopes in God, both because of our faith in Him, and of His ability to receive us into His communion pure from all evil and wickedness of life. If a man, then, should call himself a Jew or a Christian, he would not say without qualification that God had made the whole world, and the vault of heaven84 for us in particular. But if a man is, as Jesus taught, pure in heart, and meek, and peaceful, and cheerfully submits to dangers for the sake of his religion, such an one might reasonably have confidence in God, and with a full apprehension of the word contained in the prophecies, might say this also: “All these things has God shown beforehand, and announced to us who believe.”





1 τοὺς ἀνάλογον αὐτῷ προφητικοὺς λόγους.

2 δικαιωτής.

3 ἀκολουθίας.

4 πιθανότητος.

5 Δικαιωτής, not Δικαστής.

6 τοὺς καρποὺς τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ βασιλείας ἀποδώσουσι τῷ Θεῷ, ἐν τοῖς ἑκάστης πράξεως οὔης καρποῦ τῆς βασιλείας καιροῖς.

7 εὐήθως.

8 The word φύσει which is found in the text seems out of place, and has been omitted in the translation, agreeably to the emendation of Boherellus.

9 Ἆρα γὰρ ἤθελε φαντασιουμένοις τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ὑπὸ Θεοῦ, ἀπειληφότος μὲν άθρόως τὴν κακίαν, ἐμφύοντος δὲ τὴν ἀρετὴν, τὴν ἐπανόρθωσιν γενέσθαι;

10 ποῦ οὖν τὸ ἐφ ἡμῖν;

11 οἱ γὰρ ἐπὶ τὰ βέλτιστα προκαλούμενοι λόγοι, Θεοῦ αὐτοὺς δεδωκότος, εἰσὶν ἐν ἀνθρώποις.

12 γενναιότατος.

13 Wisdom of Solomon 1:7, καὶ τὸ συνέχον τὰ πάντα γνῶσιν ἔχει φωνῆς.

14 καὶ παρὰ τοῦτ ἔλαττον ἔχειν δοκῶν.

15 καθάπερ οἱ νεόπλουτοι τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐπιδεικτιῶντες, πολλήν τινα καὶ πάνυ θνητὴν φιλοτομίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ καταμαρτιροῦσι.

16 οἰκείωσιν.

17 μετὰ τοσοῦτον αἰῶνα.

18 δικαιῶσαι.

19 τὸ λογικὸν ζῶον.

20 ἐν τῇ παραδοχῇ τῆς θειότητος.

21 ἐξαίρετόν τι χρῆμα.

22 Deu_32:8, Deu_32:9 (according to the LXX.).

23 Εἰσὶ γὰρ τινες εἱρμοὶ καὶ ἀκολουθίαι ἄφατοι καὶ ἀνεκδιήγητοι περὶ τῆς κατὰ τὰς ἀνθρωπίνας ψυχὰς διαφόρου οἰκονομίας.

24 αὐτὸς ἔφα.

25 [The word “reliable” is used here. I cannot let it stand, and have supplied an English word instead].

26 συνθιασῶται.

27 τῷ παντί.

28 οὑκ ἀχρήστους. On Origen’s views respecting rewards and punishments, cf. Huet’s Origeniana, book ii. question xi.

29 οὐκ ἐπέστη.

30 δίκην βασανιστοῦ πῦρ φέρων.

31 [Note this testimony to the authorship of Koheleth, and that it is Scripture.]

32 εἰ χρη ἐπιστήσαντα τοῖς χρόνοις εἰπεῖν.

33 ἀνέπλασαν κατὰ περιόδους ταυτότητας, καὶ ἀπαραλλάκτους τοῖς ἰδίοις ποιοῖς καὶ τοῖς συμβεβηκόσιν αὐτοῖς.

34 κακίαν ἐπὶ πλεῖον χεομένην.

35 συγκαταβαίνειν.

36 [On this figure (anthropopathy) see vol. 2. p. 363, this series.]

37 γεῦσαι.

38 σωματικῶς.

39 τὴν τοῦ χρυσοῦ (Ἵν οὕτως ὀνομάσω) , φύσιν τῆς ψυχῆς, ἢ τὴν ἀργύρου, δολωσάντων.

40 οὐκ ἀχρήστους. On Origen’s veiws respecting rewards and punishments, cf. Heut’s Origeniana, book ii. question xi.

41 Ὀ Θεὸς ἀγαθός ἐστι, καὶ καλός, καὶ εὐδαίμων, καὶ ἐν τῷ καλλίστῳ καὶ ἀρίστῳ.

42 κατάβασιν.

43 τῆ προνοίᾳ καὶ τῇ οἰκονομίᾳ.

44 ἡγεμονικόν.

45 The reading in the text is, ἐπὶ μέρους γίνεται αὐτῆς, which is thus corrected by Guietus: ἐπιμερὴς γίνεται αὐτὸς.

46 [Gieseler cites this chapter (and cap. xix. infra) to show that Origen taught that the Logos did not assume a human body. Could words be stronger to the contrary? “He becomes, as it were, flesh,” is used below to guard against transmutation.]

47 προηγουμένην.

48 ἄτιμον.

49 ἐκλεῖπον.

50 [The transfiguration did not conflict with his mortal nature, nor the incarnation with his immortality.]

51 τί ἀκολουθεῖ.

52 [Such are the accomodations reflected upon by Gieseler. See book iii. cap. lxxix..]

53 τί ἄτοπον.

54 ὅμως δ ἀπολογησόμεθα, ὅτι οὐ φῂς, ὦ Κέλσε, ὡς ἐν φαρμάκου μοίρᾳ τοτὲ δίδοται χρῆσθαι τῷ πλανᾷν καὶ ψεύδεσθαι.

55 προηγουμένως, ἀλλ· ἐκ περιστάσεως.

56 cf. Plato in the Timaeus, and book iii., de Legibus.

57 σαφής.

58 Ἐπὰν τὸ προκείμενον ᾖ παραστῆσαι καὶ τὰ τῆς κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἱσνορίας τίνα ἔχοι λόγον, καὶ τὰ τῆς περὶ αὐτοῦ ἀναγωγῆς.

59 Otus and Ephialtes. cf. Smith’s Dict. of Myth. and Biog., s.v.

60 cf. Hom., Odyss., xi. 305.

61 [Demonstrated by Justin, vol. 1. pp. 277, 278, this series.]

62 ἁγιστείας.

63 ἐπεσκοπήθησαν.

64 Θεῖόν τι καὶ ἱερὸν χρῆμα γεγονέναι τὸν Ἰησοῦν.

65 οὐδ ἀποκατασταθήσονται. [A very bold and confident assertion this must have seemed sixteen hundred years ago.]

66 καὶ ἁρμόζοντας τῇ πανταχοῦ καθεστώσῃ πολιτείᾳ.

67 ὑπὸ οἰκείων καὶ ὁμοήθων.

68 τὴν οὐράνιον φοράν.

69 ἐμπολιτεύεται.

70 ἐξευτελίζοντες.

71 εὐτελέσι.

72 οὐκ ἐν σώματι κρίνεται.

73 γύπες; γρύπες?

74 καὶ κατὰ πᾶσαν ἀρετὴν πεποίωται.

75 The allusion may possibly be to his flight from the field of Chaeronea, or to his avarice, or to the alleged impurity of his life, which is referred to by Plutarch in his Lives of the Ten Orators. – Spencer.

76 ἀφορμὰς ἔχον πρὸς ἀρετήν.

77 ὑποτυπώσεις.

78 τὰ αὐτόθεν πᾶσι προφαινόμενα δόγματα Χριστιανῶν καὶ Ἰουδαίων.

79 φαντασίᾳ δ εὐσεβείας.

80 ἢ καὶ τὰ δημιουργήματα.

81 λίθων καὶ ξύλων.

82 διαρεκῖν.

83 ὑπὸ λογικῶν πιθανοτήτων.

84 την οὐράνιον φοράν.

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

Book IV. (C0nt.)


But since he has represented those whom he regards as worms, viz., the Christians, as saying that “God, having abandoned the heavenly regions, and despising this great earth, takes up His abode amongst us alone, and to us alone makes His announcements, and ceases not His messages and inquiries as to how we may become His associates for ever,” we have to answer that he attributes to us words which we never uttered, seeing we both read and know that God loves all existing things, and loathes85 nothing which He has made, for He would not have created anything in hatred. We have, moreover, read the declaration: “And Thou sparest all things, because they are Thine, O lover of souls. For Thine incorruptible Spirit is in all. And therefore those also who have fallen away for a little time Thou rebukest, and admonishest, reminding them of their sins.” (cf. Wisdom of Solomon 11:26) How can we assert that “God, leaving the regions of heaven, and the whole world, and despising this great earth, takes up His abode amongst us only,” when we have found that all thoughtful persons must say in their prayers, that “the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord,” (Psa_33:5) and that “the mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh;” (Ecclesiasticus 18:13.) and that God, being good, “maketh His sun to arise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth His rain upon the just and the unjust;” (cf. Mat_5:45) and that He encourages us to a similar course of action, in order that we may become His sons, and teaches us to extend the benefits which we enjoy, so far as in our power, to all men? For He Himself is said to be the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe; (cf. 1Ti_4:10) and His Christ to be the “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (cf. 1Jo_2:2) And this, then, is our answer to the allegations of Celsus. Certain other statements, in keeping with the character of the Jews, might be made by some of that nation, but certainly not by the Christians, who have been taught that “God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us;” (cf. Rom_5:8) and although “scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.” (cf. Rom_5:7) But now is Jesus declared to have come for the sake of sinners in all parts of the world (that they may forsake their sin, and entrust themselves to God), being called also, agreeably to an ancient custom of these Scriptures, the “Christ of God.”


Chap. XXIX.

But Celsus perhaps has misunderstood certain of those whom he has termed “worms,” when they affirm that “God exists, and that we are next to Him.” And he acts like those who would find fault with an entire sect of philosophers, on account of certain words uttered by some rash youth who, after a three days’ attendance upon the lectures of a philosopher, should exalt himself above other people as inferior to himself, and devoid of philosophy. For we know that there are many creatures more honourable86 than man; and we have read that “God standeth in the congregation of gods,” (cf. Psa_82:1) but of gods who are not worshipped by the nations, “for all the gods of the nations are idols.”87 We have read also, that “God, standing in the congregation of the gods, judgeth among the gods.” (cf. Psa_82:1) We know, moreover, that “though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many), but to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.” (1Co_8:5, 1Co_8:6) And we know that in this way the angels are superior to men; so that men, when made perfect, become like the angels. “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but the righteous are as the angels in heaven,” (cf. Mat_22:30) and also become “equal to the angels.” (cf. Luk_20:36) We know, too, that in the arrangement of the universe there are certain beings termed “thrones,” and others “dominions,” and others “powers,” and others “principalities;” and we see that we men, who are far inferior to these, may entertain the hope that by a virtuous life, and by acting in all things agreeably to reason, we may rise to a likeness with all these. And, lastly, because “it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like God, and shall see Him as He is.” (cf. 1Jo_3:2) And if any one were to maintain what is asserted by some (either by those who possess intelligence or who do not, but have misconceived sound reason), that “God exists, and we are next to Him,” I would interpret the word “we,” by using in its stead, “We who act according to reason,” or rather, “We virtuous, who act according to reason.”88 For, in our opinion, the same virtue belongs to all the blessed, so that the virtue of man and of God is identical.89 And therefore we are taught to become “perfect,” as our Father in heaven is perfect. (cf. Mat_5:48) No good and virtuous man, then, is a “worm rolling in filth,” nor is a pious man an “ant,” nor a righteous man a “frog;” nor could one whose soul is enlightened with the bright light of truth be reasonably likened to a “bird of the night.”


Chap. XXX.

It appears to me that Celsus has also misunderstood this statement, “Let Us make man in Our image and likeness;” (cf. Gen_1:26) and has therefore represented the “worms” as saying that, being created by God, we altogether resemble Him. If, however, he had known the difference between man being created “in the image of God” and “after His likeness,” and that God is recorded to have said, “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness,” but that He made man “after the image” of God, but not then also “after His likeness,” (cf. Gen_1:27) he would not have represented us as saying that “we are altogether like Him.” Moreover, we do not assert that the stars are subject to us; since the resurrection which is called the “resurrection of the just,” and which is understood by wise men, is compared to the sun, and moon, and stars, by him who said, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.” (cf. 1Co_15:41, 1Co_15:42) Daniel also prophesied long ago regarding these things. (cf. Daniel 13:3) Celsus says further, that we assert that “all things have been arranged so as to be subject to us,” having perhaps heard some of the intelligent among us speaking to that effect, and perhaps also not understanding the saying, that “he who is the greatest amongst us is the servant of all.” (cf. Mat_20:27) And if the Greeks say, “Then sun and moon are the slaves of mortal men,”90 they express approval of the statement, and give an explanation of its meaning; but since such a statement is either not made at all by us, or is expressed in a different way, Celsus here too falsely accuses us. Moreover, we who, according to Celsus, are “worms,” are represented by him as saying that, “seeing some among us are guilty of sin, God will come to us, or will send His own Son, that He may consume the wicked, and that we other frogs may enjoy eternal life with Him.” Observe how this venerable philosopher, like a low buffoon,91 turns into ridicule and mockery, and a subject of laughter, the announcement of a divine judgment, and of the punishment of the wicked, and of the reward of the righteous; and subjoins to all this the remark, that “such statements would be more endurable if made by worms and flogs than by Christians and Jews who quarrel with one another!” We shall not, however, imitate his example, nor say similar things regarding those philosophers who profess to know the nature of all things, and who discuss with each other the manner in which all things were created, and how the heaven and earth originated, and all things in them; and how the souls (of men), being either unbegotten, and not created by God, are yet governed by Him, and pass from one body to another;92 or being formed at the same time with the body, exist for ever or pass away. For instead of treating with respect and accepting the intention of those who have devoted themselves to the investigation of the truth, one might mockingly and revilingly say that such men were “worms,” who did not measure themselves by their comer of their dung-heap in human life, and who accordingly gave forth their opinions on matters of such importance as if they understood them, and who strenuously assert that they have obtained a view of those things which cannot be seen without a higher inspiration and a diviner power. “For no man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him: even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (cf. 1Co_2:11) We are not, however, mad, nor do we compare such human wisdom (I use the word “wisdom” in the common acceptation), which busies itself not about the affairs of the multitude, but in the investigation of truth, to the wrigglings of worms or any other such creatures; but in the spirit of truth, we testify of certain Greek philosophers that they knew God, seeing “He manifested Himself to them,” (cf. Rom_1:19) although “they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations; and professing themselves to be wise, they became foolish, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” (Rom_1:21-23)


Chap. XXXI.

After this, wishing to prove that there is no difference between Jews and Christians, and those animals previously enumerated by him, he asserts that the Jews were “fugitives from Egypt, who never performed anything worthy of note, and never were held in any reputation or account.”93 Now, on the point of their not being fugitives, nor Egyptians, but Hebrews who settled in Egypt, we have spoken in the preceding pages. But if he thinks his statement, that “they were never held in any reputation or account,” to be proved, because no remarkable event in their history is found recorded by the Greeks, we would answer, that if one will examine their polity from its first beginning, and the arrangement of their laws, he will find that they were men who represented upon earth the shadow of a heavenly life, and that amongst them God is recognised as nothing else, save He who is over all things, and that amongst them no maker of images was permitted to enjoy the rights of citizenship.94 For neither painter nor image-maker existed in their state, the law expelling all such from it; that there might be no pretext for the construction of images, – an art which attracts the attention of foolish men, and which drags down the eyes of the soul from God to earth.95 There was, accordingly, amongst them a law to the following effect: “Do not transgress the law, and make to yourselves a graven image, any likeness of male or female; either a likeness of any one of the creatures that are upon the earth, or a likeness of any winged fowl that flieth under the heaven, or a likeness of any creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, or a likeness of any of the fishes which are in the waters under the earth.” (cf. Deu_4:16-18) The law, indeed, wished them to have regard to the truth of each individual thing, and not to form representations of things contrary to reality, feigning the appearance merely of what was really male or really female, or the nature of animals, or of birds, or of creeping things, or of fishes. Venerable, too, and grand was this prohibition of theirs: “Lift not up thine eyes unto heaven, lest, when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and all the host of heaven, thou shouldst be led astray to worship them, and serve them.” (cf. Deu_4:19) And what a regime96 was that under which the whole nation was placed, and which rendered it impossible for any effeminate person to appear in public;97 and worthy of admiration, too, was the arrangement by which harlots were removed out of the state, those incentives to the passions of the youth! Their courts of justice also were composed of men of the strictest integrity, who, after having for a lengthened period set the example of an unstained life, were entrusted with the duty of presiding over the tribunals, and who, on account of the superhuman purity of their character,98 were said to be gods, in conformity with an ancient Jewish usage of speech. Here was the spectacle of a whole nation devoted to philosophy; and in order that there might be leisure to listen to their sacred laws, the days termed “Sabbath,” and the other festivals which existed among them, were instituted. And why need I speak of the orders of their priests and sacrifices, which contain innumerable indications (of deeper truths) to those who wish to ascertain the signification of things?


Chap. XXXII.

But since nothing belonging to human nature is permanent, this polity also must gradually be corrupted and changed. And Providence, having remodelled their venerable system where it needed to be changed, so as to adapt it to men of all countries, gave to believers of all nations, in place of the Jews, the venerable religion of Jesus, who, being adorned not only with understanding, but also with a share of divinity,99 and having overthrown the doctrine regarding earthly demons, who delight in frankincense, and blood, and in the exhalations of sacrificial odours, and who, like the fabled Titans or Giants, drag down men from thoughts of God; and having Himself disregarded their plots, directed chiefly against the better class of men, enacted laws which ensure happiness to those who live according to them, and who do not flatter the demons by means of sacrifices, but altogether despise them, through help of the word of God, which aids those who look upwards to Him. And as it was the will of God that the doctrine of Jesus should prevail amongst men, the demons could effect nothing, although straining every nerve100 to accomplish the destruction of Christians; for they stirred up both princes, and senates, and rulers in every place, – nay, even nations themselves, who did not perceive the irrational and wicked procedure of the demons, – against the word, and those who believed in it; yet, notwithstanding, the word of God, which is more powerful than all other things, even when meeting with opposition, deriving from the opposition, as it were, a means of increase, advanced onwards, and won many souls, such being the will of God. And we have offered these remarks by way of a necessary digression. For we wished to answer the assertion of Celsus concerning the Jews, that they were “fugitives from Egypt, and that these men, beloved by God, never accomplished anything worthy of note.” And further, in answer to the statement that “they were never held in any reputation or account,” we say, that living apart as a “chosen nation and a royal priesthood,” and shunning intercourse with the many nations around them, in order that their morals might escape corruption, they enjoyed the protection of the divine power, neither coveting like the most of mankind the acquisition of other kingdoms, nor yet being abandoned so as to become, on account of their smallness, an easy object of attack to others, and thus be altogether destroyed; and this lasted so long as they were worthy of the divine protection. But when it became necessary for them, as a nation wholly given to sin, to be brought back by their sufferings to their God, they were abandoned (by Him), sometimes for a longer, sometimes for a shorter period, until in the time of the Romans, having committed the greatest of sins in putting Jesus to death, they were completely deserted.



Immediately after this, Celsus, assailing the contents of the first book of Moses, which is entitled “Genesis,” asserts that “the Jews accordingly endeavoured to derive their origin from the first race of jugglers and deceivers,101 appealing to the testimony of dark and ambiguous words, whose meaning was veiled in obscurity, and which they misinterpreted102 to the unlearned and ignorant, and that, too, when such a point had never been called in question during the long preceding period.” Now Celsus appears to me in these words to have expressed very obscurely the meaning which he intended to convey. It is probable, indeed, that his obscurity on this subject is intentional, inasmuch as he saw the strength of the argument which establishes the descent of the Jews from their ancestors; while again, on the other hand, he wished not to appear ignorant that the question regarding the Jews and their descent was one that could not be lightly disposed of. It is certain, however, that the Jews trace their genealogy back to the three fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the names of these individuals possess such efficacy, when united with the name of God, that not only do those belonging to the nation employ in their prayers to God, and in the exorcising of demons, the words, “God of Abraham,103 and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” but so also do almost all those who occupy themselves with incantations and magical rites. For there is found in treatises on magic in many countries such an invocation of God, and assumption of the divine name, as implies a familiar use of it by these men in their dealings with demons. These facts, then – adduced by Jews and Christians to prove the sacred character of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, the fathers of the Jewish race – appear to me not to have been altogether unknown to Celsus, but not to have been distinctly set forth by him, because he was unable to answer the argument which might be founded on them.


Chap. XXXIV.

For we inquire of all those who employ such invocations of God, saying: Tell us, friends, who was Abraham, and what sort of person was Isaac, and what power did Jacob possess, that the appellation “God,” when joined with their name, could effect such wonders? And from whom have you learned, or can you learn, the facts relating to these individuals? And who has occupied himself with writing a history about them, either directly magnifying these men by ascribing to them mysterious powers, or hinting obscurely at their possession of certain great and marvellous qualities, patent to those who are qualified to see them?104 And when, in answer to our inquiry, no one can show from what history – whether Greek or Barbarian – or, if not a history, yet at least from what mystical narrative,105 the accounts of these men are derived, we shall bring forward the book entitled “Genesis,” which contains the acts of these men, and the divine oracles addressed to them, and will say, Does not the use by you of the names of these three ancestors of the race, establishing in the clearest manner that effects not to be lightly regarded are produced by the invocation of them, evidence the divinity of the men?106 And yet we know them from no other source than the sacred books of the Jews! Moreover, the phrases, “the God of Israel,” and “the God of the Hebrews,” and “the God who drowned in the Red Sea the king of Egypt and the Egyptians,” are formulae107 frequently employed against demons and certain wicked powers. And we learn the history of the names and their interpretation from those Hebrews, who in their national literature and national tongue dwell with pride upon these things, and explain their meaning. How, then, should the Jews attempt to derive their origin from the first race of those whom Celsus supposed to be jugglers and deceivers, and shamelessly endeavour to trace themselves and their beginning back to these? – whose names, being Hebrew, are an evidence to the Hebrews, who have their sacred books written in the Hebrew language and letters, that their nation is akin to these men. For up to the present time, the Jewish names belonging to the Hebrew language were either taken from their writings, or generally from words the meaning of which was made known by the Hebrew language.


Chap. XXXV.

And let any one who peruses the treatise of Celsus observe whether it does not convey some such insinuation as the above, when he says: “And they attempted to derive their origin from the first race of jugglers and deceivers, appealing to the testimony of dark and ambiguous words, whose meaning was veiled in obscurity.” For these names are indeed obscure, and not within the comprehension and knowledge of many, though not in our opinion of doubtful meaning, even although assumed by those who are aliens to our religion; but as, according to Celsus, they do not108 convey any ambiguity, I am at a loss to know why he has rejected them. And yet, if he had wished honestly to overturn the genealogy which he deemed the Jews to have so shamelessly arrogated, in boasting of Abraham and his descendants (as their progenitors), he ought to have quoted all the passages bearing on the subject; and, in the first place, to have advocated his cause with such arguments as he thought likely to be convincing, and in the next to have bravely109 refuted, by means of what appeared to him to be the true meaning, and by arguments in its favour, the errors existing on the subject. But neither Celsus nor any one else will be able, by their discussions regarding the nature of names employed for miraculous purposes, to lay down the correct doctrine regarding them, and to demonstrate that those men were to be lightly esteemed whose names merely, not among their countrymen alone, but also amongst foreigners, could accomplish (such results). He ought to have shown, moreover, how we, in misinterpreting110 the passages in which these names are found, deceive our hearers, as he imagines, while he himself, who boasts that he is not ignorant or unintelligent, gives the true interpretation of them. And he hazarded the assertion,111 in speaking of those names, from which the Jews deduce their genealogies, that “never, during the long antecedent period, has there been any dispute about these names, but that at the present time the Jews dispute about them with certain others,” whom he does not mention. Now, let him who chooses show who these are that dispute with the Jews, and who adduce even probable arguments to show that Jews and Christians do not decide correctly on the points relating to these names, but that there are others who have discussed these questions with the greatest learning and accuracy. But we are well assured that none can establish anything of the sort, it being manifest that these names are derived from the Hebrew language, which is found only among the Jews.


Chap. XXXVI.

Celsus in the next place, producing from history other than that of the divine record, those passages which bear upon the claims to great antiquity put forth by many nations, as the Athenians, and Egyptians, and Arcadians, and Phrygians, who assert that certain individuals have existed among them who sprang from the earth, and who each adduce proofs of these assertions, says: “The Jews, then, leading a grovelling life112 in some comer of Palestine, and being a wholly uneducated people, who had not heard that these matters had been committed to verse long ago by Hesiod and innumerable other inspired men, wove together some most incredible and insipid stories,113 viz., that a certain man was formed by the hands of God, and had breathed into him the breath of life, and that a woman was taken from his side, and that God issued certain commands, and that a serpent opposed these, and gained a victory over the commandments of God; thus relating certain old wives’ fables, and most impiously representing God as weak at the very beginning (of things), and unable to convince even a single human being whom He Himself had formed.” By these instances, indeed, this deeply read and learned Celsus, who accuses Jews and Christians of ignorance and want of instruction, clearly evinces the accuracy of his knowledge of the chronology of the respective historians, whether Greek or Barbarian, since he imagines that Hesiod and the “innumerable” others, whom he styles “inspired” men, are older than Moses and his writings – that very Moses who is shown to be much older than the time of the Trojan war! It is not the Jews, then, who have composed incredible and insipid stories regarding the birth of man from the earth, but these “inspired” men of Celsus, Hesiod and his other “innumerable” companions, who, having neither learned nor heard of the far older and most venerable accounts existing in Palestine, have written such histories as their Theogonies, attributing, so far as in their power, “generation” to their deities, and innumerable other absurdities. And these are the writers whom Plato expels from his “State” as being corrupters of the youth,114 – Homer, viz., and those who have composed poems of a similar description! Now it is evident that Plato did not regard as “inspired” those men who had left behind them such works. But perhaps it was from a desire to cast reproach upon us, that this Epicurean Celsus, who is better able to judge than Plato (if it be the same Celsus who composed two other books against the Christians), called those individuals “inspired” whom he did not in reality regard as such.



He charges us, moreover, with introducing “a man formed by the hands of God,” although the book of Genesis has made no mention of the “hands” of God, either when relating the creation or the “fashioning”115 of the man; while it is Job and David who have used the expression, “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me;” (cf. Job_10:8 and Psa_119:73) with reference to which it would need a lengthened discourse to point out the sense in which these words were understood by those who used them, both as regards the difference between “making” and “fashioning,” and also the “hands” of God. For those who do not understand these and similar expressions in the sacred Scriptures, imagine that we attribute to the God who is over all things a form116 such as that of man; and according to their conceptions, it follows that we consider the body of God to be furnished with wings, since the Scriptures, literally understood, attribute such appendages to God. The subject before us, however, does not require us to interpret these expressions; for, in our explanatory remarks upon the book of Genesis, these matters have been made, to the best of our ability, a special subject of investigation. Observe next the malignity117 of Celsus in what follows. For the Scripture, speaking of the “fashioning”118 of the man, says, “And breathed into his face the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.”119 Whereon Celsus, wishing maliciously to ridicule the “inbreathing into his face of the breath of life,” and not understanding the sense in which the expression was employed, states that “they composed a story that a man was fashioned by the hands of God, and was inflated by breath blown into him,”120 in order that, taking the word” inflated” to be used in a similar way to the inflation of skins, he might ridicule the statement, “He breathed into his face the breath of life,” – terms which are used figuratively, and require to be explained in order to show that God communicated to man of His incorruptible Spirit; as it is said, “For Thine incorruptible Spirit is in all things.” (Wisdom of Solomon 12:1.)



In the next place, as it is his object to slander our Scriptures, he ridicules the following statement: “And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which He had taken from the man, made He a woman,” (cf. Gen_2:21, Gen_2:22) and so on; without quoting the words, which would give the hearer the impression that they are spoken with a figurative meaning. He would not even have it appear that the words were used allegorically, although he says afterwards, that “the more modest among Jews and Christians are ashamed of these things, and endeavour to give them somehow an allegorical signification.” Now we might say to him, Are the statements of your “inspired” Hesiod, which he makes regarding the woman in the form of a myth, to be explained allegorically, in the sense that she was given by Jove to men as an evil thing, and as a retribution for the theft of “the fire;”121 while that regarding the woman who was taken from the side of the man (after he had been buried in deep slumber), and was formed by God, appears to you to be related without any rational meaning and secret signification?122 But is it not uncandid, not to ridicule the former as myths, but to admire them as philosophical ideas in a mythical dress, and to treat with contempt123 the latter, as offending the understanding, and to declare that they are of no account? For if, because of the mere phraseology, we are to find fault with what is intended to have a secret meaning, see whether the following lines of Hesiod, a man, as you say, “inspired,” are not better fitted to excite laughter: – 

“‘Son of Iapetus!’ with wrathful heart

Spake the cloud-gatherer: ‘Oh, unmatched in art!

Exultest thou in this the flame retrieved,

And dost thou triumph in the god deceived?

But thou, with the posterity of man,

Shalt rue the fraud whence mightier ills began;

I will send evil for thy stealthy fire,

While all embrace it, and their bane desire.’

The sire, who rules the earth, and sways the pole,

Had said, and laughter fill’d his secret soul.

He bade the artist-god his best obey,

And mould with tempering waters ductile clay:

Infuse, as breathing life and form began,

The supple vigour, and the voice of man:

Her aspect fair as goddesses above,

A virgin’s likeness, with the brows of love.

He bade Minerva teach the skill that dyes

The web with colours, as the shuttle flies;

He called the magic of Love’s Queen to shed

A nameless grace around her courteous head;

Instil the wish that longs with restless aim,

And cares of dress that feed upon the frame:

Bade Hermes last implant the craft refined

Of artful manners, and a shameless mind.

He said; their king th’ inferior powers obeyed:

The fictile likeness of a bashful maid

Rose from the temper’d earth, by Jove’s behest,

Under the forming god; the zone and vest

Were clasp’d and folded by Minerva’s hand:

The heaven-born graces, and persuasion bland

Deck’d her round limbs with chains of gold: the hours

Of loose locks twined her temples with spring flowers.

The whole attire Minerva’s curious care

Form’d to her shape, and fitted to her air.

But in her breast the herald from above,

Full of the counsels of deep thundering Jove,

Wrought artful manners, wrought perfidious lies,

And speech that thrills the blood, and lulls the wise.

Her did th’ interpreter of gods proclaim,

And named the woman with Pandora’s name;

Since all the gods conferr’d their gifts, to charm,

For man’s inventive race, this beauteous harm.”124

Moreover, what is said also about the casket is fitted of itself to excite laughter; for example: – 

“Whilome on earth the sons of men abode

From ills apart, and labour’s irksome load,

And sore diseases, bringing age to man;

Now the sad life of mortals is a span.

The woman’s hands a mighty casket bear;

She lifts the lid; she scatters griefs in air:

Alone, beneath the vessel’s rims detained,

Hope still within th’ unbroken cell remained,

Nor fled abroad; so will’d cloud-gatherer Jove:

The woman’s hand had dropp’d the lid above.”125

Now, to him who would give to these lines a grave allegorical meaning (whether any such meaning be contained in them or not), we would say: Are the Greeks alone at liberty to convey a philosophic meaning in a secret covering? or perhaps also the Egyptians, and those of the Barbarians who pride themselves upon their mysteries and the truth (which is concealed within them); while the Jews alone, with their lawgiver and historians, appear to you the most unintelligent of men? And is this the only nation which has not received a share of divine power, and which yet was so grandly instructed how to rise upwards to the uncreated nature of God, and to gaze on Him alone, and to expect from Him alone (the fulfilment of) their hopes? 


Chap. XXXIX.

But as Celsus makes a jest also of the serpent, as counteracting the injunctions given by God to the man, taking the narrative to be an old wife’s fable,126 and has purposely neither mentioned the paradise127 of God, nor stated that God is said to have planted it in Eden towards the east, and that there afterwards sprang up from the earth every tree that was beautiful to the sight, and good for food, and the tree of life in the midst of the paradise, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the other statements which follow, which might of themselves lead a candid reader to see that all these things had not inappropriately an allegorical meaning, let us contrast with this the words of Socrates regarding Eros in the Symposium of Plato, and which are put in the mouth of Socrates as being more appropriate than what was said regarding him by all the others at the Symposium. The words of Plato are as follow: “When Aphrodite was born, the gods held a banquet, and there was present, along with the others, Porus the son of Metis. And after they had dined, Penia128 came to beg for something (seeing there was an entertainment), and she stood at the gate. Porus meantime, having become intoxicated with the nectar (for there was then no wine), went into the garden of Zeus, and, being heavy with liquor, lay down to sleep. Penia accordingly formed a secret plot, with a view of freeing herself from her condition of poverty,129 to get a child by Porus, and accordingly lay down beside him, and became pregnant with Eros. And on this account Eros has become the follower and attendant of Aphrodite, having been begotten on her birthday feast,130 and being at the same time by nature a lover of the beautiful, because Aphrodite too is beautiful. Seeing, then, that Eros is the son of Porus and Penia, the following is his condition.131 In the first place, he is always poor, and far from being delicate and beautiful, as most persons imagine; but is withered, and sunburnt,132 and unshod, and without a home, sleeping always upon the ground, and without a covering; lying in the open air beside gates, and on public roads; possessing the nature of his mother, and dwelling continually with indigence.133 But, on the other hand, in conformity with the character of his father, he is given to plotting against the beautiful and the good, being courageous, and hasty, and vehement;134 a keen135 hunter, perpetually devising contrivances; both much given to forethought, and also fertile in resources;136 acting like a philosopher throughout the whole of his life; a terrible137 sorcerer, and dealer in drugs, and a sophist as well; neither immortal by nature nor yet mortal, but on the same day, at one time he flourishes and lives when he has plenty, and again at another time dies, and once more is recalled to life through possessing the nature of his father. But the supplies furnished to him are always gradually disappearing, so that he is never at any time in want, nor yet rich; and, on the other hand, he occupies an intermediate position between wisdom and ignorance.”138 Now, if those who read these words were to imitate the malignity of Celsus – which be it far from Christians to do! – they would ridicule the myth, and would turn this great Plato into a subject of jest; but if, on investigating in a philosophic spirit what is conveyed in the dress of a myth, they should be able to discover the meaning of Plato, (they will admire)139 the manner in which he was able to conceal, on account of the multitude, in the form of this myth, the great ideas which presented themselves to him, and to speak in a befitting manner to those who know how to ascertain from the myths the true meaning of him who wove them together. Now I have brought forward this myth occurring in the writings of Plato, because of the mention in it of the garden of Zeus, which appears to bear some resemblance to the paradise of God, and of the comparison between Penia and the serpent, and the plot against Porus by Penia, which may be compared with the plot of the serpent against the man. It is not very clear, indeed, whether Plato fell in with these stories by chance, or whether, as some think, meeting during his visit to Egypt with certain individuals who philosophized on the Jewish mysteries, and learning some things from them, he may have preserved a few of their ideas, and thrown others aside, being careful not to offend the Greeks by a complete adoption of all the points of the philosophy of the Jews, who were in bad repute with the multitude, on account of the foreign character of their laws and their peculiar polity. The present, however, is not the proper time for explaining either the myth of Plato, or the story of the serpent and the paradise of God, and all that is related to have taken place in it, as in our exposition of the book of Genesis we have especially occupied ourselves as we best could with these matters.


Chap. XL.

But as he asserts that “the Mosaic narrative most impiously represents God as in a state of weakness from the very commencement (of things), and as unable to gain over (to obedience) even one single man whom He Himself had formed,” we say in answer that the objection140 is much the same as if one were to find fault with the existence of evil, which God has not been able to prevent even in the case of a single individual, so that one man might be found from the very beginning of things who was born into the world untainted by sin. For as those whose business it is to defend the doctrine of providence do so by means of arguments which are not to be despised,141 so also the subjects of Adam and his son will be philosophically dealt with by those who are aware that in the Hebrew language Adam signifies man; and that in those parts of the narrative which appear to refer to Adam as an individual, Moses is discoursing upon the nature of man in general.142 For “in Adam” (as the Scripture (cf. 1Co_15:22 with Rom_5:14) says) “all die,” and were condemned in the likeness of Adam’s transgression, the word of God asserting this not so much of one particular individual as of the whole human race. For in the connected series of statements which appears to apply as to one particular individual, the curse pronounced upon Adam is regarded as common to all (the members of the race), and what was spoken with reference to the woman is spoken of every woman without exception.143 And the expulsion of the man and woman from paradise, and their being clothed with tunics of skins (which God, because of the transgression of men, made for those who had sinned), contain a certain secret and mystical doctrine (far transcending that of Plato) of the souls losing its wings,144 and being borne downwards to earth, until it can lay hold of some stable resting-place.


Chap. XLI.

After this he continues as follows: “They speak, in the next place, of a deluge, and of a monstrous145 ark, having within it all things, and of a dove and a crow146 as messengers, falsifying and recklessly altering147 the story of Deucalion; not expecting, I suppose, that these things would come to light, but imagining that they were inventing stories merely for young children.” Now in these remarks observe the hostility – so unbecoming a philosopher – displayed by this man towards this very ancient Jewish narrative. For, not being able to say anything against the history of the deluge, and not perceiving what he might have urged against the ark and its dimensions, – viz., that, according to the general opinion, which accepted the statements that it was three hundred cubits in length, and fifty in breadth, and thirty in height, it was impossible to maintain that it contained (all) the animals that were upon the earth, fourteen specimens of every clean and four of every unclean beast, – he merely termed it “monstrous, containing all things within it.” Now wherein was its “monstrous” character, seeing it is related to have been a hundred years in building, and to have had the three hundred cubits of its length and the fifty of its breadth contracted, until the thirty cubits of its height terminated in a top one cubit long and one cubit broad? Why should we not rather admire a structure which resembled an extensive city, if its measurements be taken to mean what they are capable of meaning,148 so that it was nine myriads of cubits long in the base, and two thousand five hundred in breadth?149 And why should we not admire the design evinced in having it so compactly built, and rendered capable of sustaining a tempest which caused a deluge? For it was not daubed with pitch, or any material of that kind, but was securely coated with bitumen. And is it not a subject of admiration, that by the providential arrangement of God, the elements of all the races were brought into it, that the earth might receive again the seeds of all living things, while God made use of a most righteous man to be the progenitor of those who were to be born after the deluge?


Chap. XLII.

In order to show that he had read the book of Genesis, Celsus rejects the story of the dove, although unable to adduce any reason which might prove it to be a fiction. In the next place, as his habit is, in order to put the narrative in a more ridiculous light, he converts the “raven” into a “crow,” and imagines that Moses so wrote, having recklessly altered the accounts related of the Grecian Deucalion; unless perhaps he regards the narrative as not having proceeded from Moses, but from several individuals, as appears from his employing the plural number in the expressions, “falsifying and recklessly altering the story of Deucalion,”150 as well as from the words, “For they did not expect, I suppose, that these things would come to light.” But how should they, who gave their Scriptures to the whole nation, not expect that they would come to light, and who predicted, moreover, that this religion should be proclaimed to all nations? Jesus declared, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof;” (cf. Mat_21:43) and in uttering these words to the Jews, what other meaning did He intend to convey than this, viz., that He Himself should, through his divine power, bring forth into light the whole of the Jewish Scriptures, which contain the mysteries of the kingdom of God? If, then, they peruse the Theogonies of the Greeks, and the stories about the twelve gods, they impart to them an air of dignity, by investing them with an allegorical signification; but when they wish to throw contempt upon our biblical narratives, they assert that they are fables, clumsily invented for infant children!


Chap. XLIII.

“Altogether absurd, and out of season,”151 he continues, “is the (account of the) begetting of children,” where, although he has mentioned no names, it is evident that he is referring to the history of Abraham and Sarah. Cavilling also at the “conspiracies of the brothers,” he allies either to the story of Cain plotting against Abel, (cf. Gen_4:8) or, in addition, to that of Esau against Jacob; (cf. Gen_27:41) and (speaking) of “a father’s sorrow,” he probably refers to that of Isaac on account of the absence of Jacob, and perhaps also to that of Jacob because of Joseph having been sold into Egypt. And when relating the “crafty procedure of mothers,” I suppose he means the conduct of Rebecca, who contrived that the blessing of Isaac should descend, not upon Esau, but upon Jacob. Now if we assert that in all these cases God interposed in a very marked degree,152 what absurdity do we commit, seeing we are persuaded that He never withdraws His providence153 from those who devote themselves to Him in an honourable and vigorous154 life? He ridicules, moreover, the acquisition of property made by Jacob while living with Laban, not understanding to what these words refer: “And those which had no spots were Laban’s, and those which were spotted were Jacob’s;”155 and he says that “God presented his sons with asses, and sheep, and camels,” (cf. Gen_30:43) and did not see that “all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and were written for our sake, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (cf. 1Co_10:11) The varying customs (prevailing among the different nations) becoming famous,156 are regulated by the word of God, being given as a possession to him who is figuratively termed Jacob. For those who become converts to Christ from among the heathen, are indicated by the history of Laban and Jacob.


Chap. XLIV.

And erring widely from the meaning of Scripture, he says that “God gave wells157 also to the righteous.” Now he did not observe that the righteous do not construct cisterns,158 but dig wells, seeking to discover the inherent ground and source of potable blessings,159 inasmuch as they receive in a figurative sense the commandment which enjoins, “Drink waters from your own vessels, and from your own wells of fresh water. Let not your water be poured out beyond your own fountain, but let it pass into your own streets. Let it belong to you alone, and let no alien partake with thee.” (cf. Pro_5:15-17) Scripture frequently makes use of the histories of real events, in order to present to view more important truths, which are but obscurely intimated; and of this kind are the narratives relating to the “wells,” and to the “marriages,” and to the various acts of “sexual intercourse” recorded of righteous persons, respecting which, however, it will be more seasonable to offer an explanation in the exegetical writings referring to those very passages. But that wells were constructed by righteous men in the land of the Philistines, as related in the book of Genesis, (cf. Gen_26:15) is manifest from the wonderful wells which are shown at Ascalon, and which are deserving of mention on account of their structure, so foreign and peculiar compared with that of other wells. Moreover, that both young women160 and female servants are to be understood metaphorically, is not our doctrine merely, but one which we have received from the beginning from wise men, among whom a certain one said, when exhorting his hearers to investigate the figurative meaning: “Tell me, ye that read the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond maid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” (cf. Gal_4:21-24) And a little after, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” And any one who will take up the Epistle to the Galatians may learn how the passages relating to the “marriages,” and the intercourse with “the maid-servants,” have been allegorized; the Scripture desiring us to imitate not the literal acts of those who did these things, but (as the apostles of Jesus are accustomed to call them) the spiritual.


Chap. XLV.

And whereas Celsus ought to have recognised the love of truth displayed by the writers of sacred Scripture, who have not concealed even what is to their discredit,161 and thus been led to accept the other and more marvellous accounts as true, he has done the reverse, and has characterized the story of Lot and his daughters (without examining either its literal or its figurative meaning) as “worse than the crimes of Thyestes.” The figurative signification of that passage of history it is not necessary at present to explain, nor what is meant by Sodom, and by the words of the angels to him who was escaping thence, when they said: “Look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the surrounding district; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed;” (Gen_19:17) nor what is intended by Lot and his wife, who became a pillar of salt because she turned back; nor by his daughters intoxicating their father, that they might become mothers by him. But let us in a few words soften down the repulsive features of the history. The nature of actions – good, bad, and indifferent – has been investigated by the Greeks; and the more successful of such investigators162 lay down the principle that intention alone gives to actions the character of good or bad, and that all things which are done without a purpose are, strictly speaking, indifferent; that when the intention is directed to a becoming end, it is praiseworthy; when the reverse, it is censurable. They have said, accordingly, in the section relating to” things indifferent,” that, strictly speaking, for a man to have sexual intercourse with his daughters is a thing indifferent, although such a thing ought not to take place in established communities. And for the sake of hypothesis, in order to show that such an act belongs to the class of things indifferent, they have assumed the case of a wise man being left with an only daughter, the entire human race besides having perished; and they put the question whether the father can fitly have intercourse with his daughter, in order, agreeably to the supposition, to prevent the extermination of mankind. Is this to be accounted sound reasoning among the Greeks, and to be commended by the influential163 sect of the Stoics; but when young maidens, who had heard of the burning of the world, though without comprehending (its full meaning), saw fire devastating their city and country, and supposing that the only means left of rekindling the flame164 of human life lay in their father and themselves, should, on such a supposition, conceive the desire that the world should continue, shall their conduct be deemed worse than that of the wise man who, according to the hypothesis of the Stoics, acts becomingly in having intercourse with his daughter in the case already supposed, of all men having been destroyed? I am not unaware, however, that some have taken offence at the desire165 of Lot’s daughters, and have regarded their conduct as very wicked; and have said that two accursed nations – Moab and Ammon – have sprung from that unhallowed intercourse. And yet truly sacred Scripture is nowhere found distinctly approving of their conduct as good, nor yet passing sentence upon it as blameworthy. Nevertheless, whatever be the real state of the case, it admits not only of a figurative meaning, but also of being defended on its own merits.166


Chap. XLVI.

Celsus, moreover, sneers at the “hatred” of Esau (to which, I suppose, he refers) against Jacob, although he was a man who, according to the Scriptures, is acknowledged to have been wicked; and not clearly stating the story of Simeon and Levi, who sallied out (on the Shechemites) on account of the insult offered to their sister, who had been violated by the son of the Shechemite king, he inveighs against their conduct. And passing on, he speaks of” brothers selling (one another),” alluding to the sons of Jacob; and of “a brother sold,” Joseph to wit; and of “a father deceived,” viz., Jacob, because he entertained no suspicion of his sons when they showed him Joseph’s coat of many colours, but believed their statement, and mourned for his son, who was a slave in Egypt, as if he were dead. And observe in what a spirit of hatred and falsehood Celsus collects together the statements of the sacred history; so that wherever it appeared to him to contain a ground of accusation he produces the passage, but wherever there is any exhibition of virtue worthy of mention – as when Joseph would not gratify the lust of his mistress, refusing alike her allurements and her threats – he does not even mention the circumstance! He should see, indeed, that the conduct of Joseph was far superior to what is related of Bellerophon,167 since the former chose rather to be shut up in prison than do violence to his virtue. For although he might have offered a just defence against his accuser, he magnanimously remained silent, entrusting his cause to God.


Chap. XLVII.

Celsus next, for form’s sake,168 and with great want of precision, speaks of “the dreams of the chief butler and chief baker, and of Pharaoh, and of the explanation of them, in consequence of which Joseph was taken out of prison in order to be entrusted by Pharaoh with the second place in Egypt.” What absurdity, then, did the history contain, looked at even in itself, that it should be adduced as matter of accusation by this Celsus, who gave the title of True Discourse to a treatise not containing doctrines, but full of charges against Jews and Christians? He adds: “He who had been sold behaved kindly to his brethren (who had sold him), when they were suffering from hunger, and had been sent with their asses to purchase (provisions);” although he has not related these occurrences (in his treatise). But he does mention the circumstance of Joseph making himself known to his brethren, although I know not with what view, or what absurdity he can point out in such an occurrence; since it is impossible for Momus himself, we might say, to find any reasonable fault with events which, apart from their figurative meaning, present so much that is attractive. He relates, further, that “Joseph, who had been sold as a slave, was restored to liberty, and went up with a solemn procession to his father’s funeral,” and thinks that the narrative furnishes matter of accusation against us, as he makes the following remark: “By whom (Joseph, namely) the illustrious and divine nation of the Jews, after growing up in Egypt to be a multitude of people, was commanded to sojourn somewhere beyond the limits of the kingdom, and to pasture their flocks in districts of no repute.” Now the words, “that they were commanded to pasture their flocks in districts of no repute,” are an addition, proceeding from his own feelings of hatred; for he has not shown that Goshen, the district of Egypt, is a place of no repute. The exodus of the people from Egypt he calls a flight, not at all remembering what is written in the book of Exodus regarding the departure of the Hebrews from the land of Egypt. We have enumerated these instances to show that what, literally considered, might appear to furnish ground of accusation, Celsus has not succeeded in proving to be either objectionable or foolish, having utterly failed to establish the evil character, as he regards it, of our Scriptures.





85 βδελύσσεται.

86 τιμιώτερα.

87 δαιμόνια. cf. Psa_96:5.

88 καὶ τοῦτό γ ἂν ἐρμηνεύοιμι, τὀ “ἡμεῖς” λέγων ἀντὶ τοῦ οἱ λογικοὶ, καὶ ἔτι μᾶλλον, οἱ σπουδαῖοι λογικοί.

89 ὥστε καὶ ἡ αὐτῂ ἀρετὴ ἀνθρώπου καὶ Θεοῦ. cf. Cicero, de Leg., i.: “Jam vero virtus eadem in homine ac deo est, neque ullo alio in genio praeterea. Est autem virtus nihil aliud, quam in se perfecta, et ad summum perducta natura. Est igitur homini cum Deo similitudo.” cf. also Clemens Alex., Strom., vii. c. 14: Οὐ γὰρ, καθάπερ οἱ Στωΐκοὶ, ἀθέως, πάνυ τὴν αὐτὴν ἀρετὴν ἀνθρώπου λέγομεν καὶ Θεοῦ. cf. Theodoret, Serm., xi. – Spencer.

90 cf. Eurip., Phoeniss, 546, 547.

91 βωμολόχος.

92 καὶ ἀμείβουσι σώματα.

93 οὔτ ἐν λόγῳ οὔτ ἐν ἀριθμῷ αὐτούς ποτε γεγενημένους.

94 ἐπολιτεύετο.

95 [See book iii. cap. lxxvi., and to vol. 3. p. 76, this series.]

96 πολιτεία.

97 οὐδὲ φαίνεσθαι θηλυδρίαν οἷόν τ ἦν.

98 οἵ τινες διὰ τὸ καθαρὸν ἦθος, καὶ τὸ ὑπὲρ ἄνθρωπον.

99 θείᾳ μοίρᾳ.

100 καίτοιγε πάντα κάλων κινήσαντες.

101 ἀπὸ πρώτης σπορᾶς γοήτων καὶ πλάνων ἀνθρώπων.

102 παρεξηγούμενοι.

103 [This formula he regards as an adumbration of the Triad (see our vol. 2. p. 101): thus, “the God of Abraham” = Fatherhood; “of Isaac” = Sonship; “of Jacob” = Wisdom, and the Founder of the New Israel.]

104 εῖτε καὶ αὐτόθεν σεμνύνουσαν ἐν ἀποῤῥήτοις τοὺς ἄνδρας, εἴτε καὶ δι ὑπονοιῶν αἰνισσομένην τινὰ μεγάλα καὶ θαυμάσια τοῖς θεωρῆσαι αὐτὰ δυναμένοις;

105 μυστικῆς ἀναγραφῆς.

106 ὲροῦμέν τε· ὅτι μήποτε τὸ καὶ ὑφ ὑμῶν παραλαμβάνεσθαι τὰ ὀνόματα τῶν τριῶν τούτων γεναρχῶν τοῦ ἔθνους, τῇ ἐναργείᾳ καταλαμβανόντων, οὐκ εὐκαταφρόντα ἀνύεσθαι ἐκ τῆς κατεπικλήσεως αὐτῶν, παρίστησι τὸ θεῖον τῶν ἀνδρῶν; Guietus would expunge the words τῇ ἐναργείᾳ καταλαμβαιόντων.

107 [See note 103, on the formula of benediction and exorcism, and compare Num_6:24]

108 κατὰ δὲ Κέλσον, οὐ παριστάντα. Libri editi ad oram ὡς παριστάντα.

109 γενναίως.

110 παρεξηγούμενοι.

111 παρέῤῥιψε.

112 συγκύψαντες.

113 ἀμουσότατα.

114 cf. Plato, de Repub., book ii. etc.

115 ἐπὶ τῆς πλάσεως.

116 σχῆμα.

117 κακοήθειαν.

118 πλάσεως.

119 Gen_2:7; Hebrew בְּאַפָּין, LXX. πρόσωπον.

120 ἐμφυσώμενον.

121 ἀντὶ τοῦ πυρός.

122 χωρὶς παντὸς λόγου καὶ τινος ἐπικρύψεως.

123 μοχθίζειν.

124 Hesiod, Works and Days , i. 73-114 (Elton’s translation [in substance. S.]).

125 Hesiod, Works and Days, i. 125-134 (Elton’s translation [in substance. S.]).

126 “μῦθόν τινα” παραπλήσιον τοῖς παραδιδομένοις ταῖς γραυσίν.

127 παράδεισος.

128 Penia, poverty; Porus, abundance.

129 διὰ τὴν αὑτῆς ἀπορίαν.

130 ἐν τοῖς ἐκείνης γενεθλίοις.

131 ἐν τοιαῦτῃ τύχῃ καθέστηκε.

132 σκληρὸς καὶ αὐχμηρός.

133 ἐνδείᾳ.

134 σύντονος.

135 δεινός.

136 καὶ φρονήσεως ἐπιθυμητὴς καὶ πόριμος.

137 δεινὸς γόης.

138 [Plato, Symposion, xxiii. p. 203. S.]

14Boherellus, quem Ruaeus sequitur, in notis; “Ante voces: τίνα τρόπον,videtur deesse: θαυμάσονται, aut quid simile.” – Lommatzsch.

140 τὸ λεγόμενον.

141 εὐκαταφρονήτων.

142 φυσιολογεῖ Μωΰσῆς τὰ περὶ τῆς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου φύσεως.

143 οὐκ ἔστι καθ ἧς οὐ λέγεται.

144 πτεροῤῥυούσης. This is a correction for πτεροφυούσης, the textual reading in the Benedictine and Spencer’s edd.

145 ἀλλόκοτον.

146 κορώνη.

147 παραχαράττοντες καὶ ῥᾳδιουργοῦντες.

148 τῶ δυνάμει λέγεσθαι τὰ μέτρα.

149 [ This question, which is little short of astounding, illustrates the marvellous reach and play of Origen’s fancy at times. See de Princip., bk. i, chap. vi., note 45]

150 παραχαράττοντες καὶ ῥᾳδιουργοῦντες.

151 ἔξωρον.

152 ἄγχιστα δὲ τοῦτοις πᾶσι συμπολιτεύομενον.

153 θειότητα.

154 ἐῤῥωμένως.

155 cf. Gen_30:42 (LXX.). “The feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s ” (Auth. Vers.).

156 παρ οἷς τὰ ποικίλα ἤθη ἐπίσημα γενόμενα, τῷ λογῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ πολιτεύεται, δοθέντα κτῆσις τῷ τροπικῶς καλουμένῳ Ἰακώβ: ἐπίσημα is the term employed to denote the “spotted” cattle of Laban, and is here used by Origen in its figurative sense of “distinguished,” thus playing on the double meaning of the word.

157 φρέατα.

158 λάκκους.

159 τὴν ἐνυπάρχουσαν γῆν καὶ ἀρχὴν τῶν ποτίμων ἀγαθῶν. Boherellus proposes: τὴν ἐνυπάρχουσαν πηγὴν καὶ ἀρχὴν τῶν ποτίμων ὑδάτων.

160 νυμφας.

161 τὰ ἀπεμφαίνοντα.

162 οἱ ἐπιτυγχάνοντές γε αὐτῶν.

163 οὐκ εὐκαταφρόνητος αὐτοῖς.

164 ζώπυρον.

165 βουλήματι.

166 ἔχει δέ τινα καὶ καθ αὑτὸ άπολογίαν. [Our Edinburgh translator gives a misleading rendering here. Origen throughout this part of his argument is reasoning ad hominem, and has shown that Greek philosophy sustains this idea.]

167 cf. Homer, Iliad, vi. 160.

168 ὁσίας ἕνεκεν.

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

Book IV. (C0nt.)


In the next place, as if he had devoted himself solely to the manifestation of his hatred and dislike of the Jewish and Christian doctrine, he says: “The more modest of Jewish and Christian writers give all these things an allegorical meaning;” and, “Because they are ashamed of these things, they take refuge in allegory.” Now one might say to him, that if we must admit fables and fictions, whether written with a concealed meaning or with any other object, to be shameful narratives when taken in their literal acceptation,169 of what histories can this be said more truly than of the Grecian? In these histories, gods who are sons castrate the gods who are their fathers, and gods who are parents devour their own children, and a goddess-mother gives to the “father of gods and men” a stone to swallow instead of his own son, and a father has intercourse with his daughter, and a wife binds her own husband, having as her allies in the work the brother of the fettered god and his own daughter! But why should I enumerate these absurd stories of the Greeks regarding their gods, which are most shameful in themselves, even though invested with an allegorical meaning? (Take the instance) where Chrysippus of Soli, who is considered to be an ornament of the Stoic sect, on account of his numerous and learned treatises, explains a picture at Samos, in which Juno was represented as committing unspeakable abominations with Jupiter. This reverend philosopher says in his treatises, that matter receives the spermatic words170 of the god, and retains them within herself, in order to ornament the universe. For in the picture at Samos Juno represents matter, and Jupiter god. Now it is on account of these, and of countless other similar fables, that we would not even in word call the God of all things Jupiter, or the sun Apollo, or the moon Diana. But we offer to the Creator a worship which is pure, and speak with religious respect of His noble works of creation, not contaminating even in word the things of God; approving of the language of Plato in the Philebus, who would not admit that pleasure was a goddess, “so great is my reverence, Protarchus,” he says, “for the very names of the gods.” We verily entertain such reverence for the name of God, and for His noble works of creation, that we would not, even under pretext of an allegorical meaning, admit any fable which might do injury to the young.


Chap. XLIX.

If Celsus had read the Scriptures in an impartial spirit, he would not have said that “our writings are incapable of admitting an allegorical meaning.” For from the prophetic Scriptures, in which historical events are recorded (not from the historical), it is possible to be convinced that the historical portions also were written with an allegorical purpose, and were most skilfully adapted not only to the multitude of the simpler believers, but also to the few who are able or willing to investigate matters in an intelligent spirit. If, indeed, those writers at the present day who are deemed by Celsus the “more modest of the Jews and Christians” were the (first) allegorical interpreters of our Scriptures, he would have the appearance, perhaps, of making a plausible allegation. But since the very fathers and authors of the doctrines themselves give them an allegorical signification, what other inference can be drawn than that they were composed so as to be allegorically understood in their chief signification?171 And we shall adduce a few instances out of very many to show that Celsus brings an empty charge against the Scriptures, when he says “that they are incapable of admitting an allegorical meaning.” Paul, the apostle of Jesus, says: “It is written in the law, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? or saith He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he that plougheth should plough in hope, and he that thresheth in hope of partaking.” (cf. 1Co_9:9, 1Co_9:10, and Deu_25:4) And in another passage the same Paul says: “For it is written, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” (cf. Eph_5:31, Eph_5:32. cf. Gen_2:24.) And again, in another place: “We know that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea.” (cf. 1Co_10:1, 1Co_10:2) Then, explaining the history relating to the manna, and that referring to the miraculous issue of the water from the rock, he continues as follows: “And they did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (cf. 1Co_10:3, 1Co_10:4) Asaph, moreover, who, in showing the histories in Exodus and Numbers to be full of difficulties and parables,172 begins in the following manner, as recorded in the book of Psalms, where he is about to make mention of these things: “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.” (cf. Psa_78:1-3)


Chap. L

Moreover, if the law of Moses had contained nothing which was to be understood as hating a secret meaning, the prophet would not have said in his prayer to God, “Open Thou mine eyes, and I will behold wondrous things out of Thy law;” (cf. Psa_119:18) whereas he knew that there was a veil of ignorance lying upon the heart of those who read but do not understand the figurative meaning, which veil is taken away by the gift of God, when He hears him who has done all that he can,173 and who by reason of habit has his senses exercised to distinguish between good and evil, and who continually utters the prayer, “Open Thou mine eyes, and I will behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” And who is there that, on reading of the dragon that lives in the Egyptian river, (cf. Eze_29:3) and of the fishes which lurk in his scales, or of the excrement of Pharaoh which fills the mountains of Egypt, (cf. Eze_32:5, Eze_32:6) is not led at once to inquire who he is that fills the Egyptian mountains with his stinking excrement, and what the Egyptian mountains are; and what the rivers in Egypt are, of which the aforesaid Pharaoh boastfully says, “The rivers are mine, and I have made them;” (cf. Eze_29:3) and who the dragon is, and the fishes in its scales, – and this so as to harmonize with the interpretation to be given of the rivers? But why establish at greater length what needs no demonstration? For to these things applies the saying: “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? or who is prudent, and he shall know them?” (cf. Hos_14:9) Now I have gone at some length into the subject, because I wished to show the unsoundness of the assertion of Celsus, that “the more modest among the Jews and Christians endeavour somehow to give these stories an allegorical signification, although some of them do not admit of this, but on the contrary are exceedingly silly inventions.” Much rather are the stories of the Greeks not only very silly, but very impious inventions. For our narratives keep expressly in view the multitude of simpler believers, which was not done by those who invented the Grecian fables. And therefore not without propriety does Plato expel from his state all fables and poems of such a nature as those of which we have been speaking.


Chap. LI.

Celsus appears to me to have heard that there are treatises in existence which contain allegorical explanations of the law of Moses. These however, he could not have read; for if he had he would not have said: “The allegorical explanations, however, which have been devised are much more shameful and absurd than the fables themselves, inasmuch as they endeavour to unite with marvellous and altogether insensate folly things which cannot at all be made to harmonize.” He seems to refer in these words to the works of Philo, or to those of still older writers, such as Aristobulus. But I conjecture that Celsus has not read their books, since it appears to me that in many passages they have so successfully hit the meaning (of the sacred writers), that even Grecian philosophers would have been captivated by their explanations; for in their writings we find not only a polished style, but exquisite thoughts and doctrines, and a rational use of what Celsus imagines to be fables in the sacred writings. I know, moreover, that Numenius the Pythagorean – a surpassingly excellent expounder of Plato, and who held a foremost place as a teacher of the doctrines of Pythagoras – in many of his works quotes from the writings of Moses and the prophets, and applies to the passages in question a not improbable allegorical meaning, as in his work called Epops, and in those which treat of “Numbers” and of “Place.” And in the third book of his dissertation on The Good, he quotes also a narrative regarding Jesus – without, however, mentioning His name – and gives it an allegorical signification, whether successfully or the reverse I may state on another occasion. He relates also the account respecting Moses, and Jannes, and Jambres.174 But we are not elated on account of this instance, though we express our approval of Numenius, rather than of Celsus and other Greeks, because he was willing to investigate our histories from a desire to acquire knowledge, and was (duly) affected by them as narratives which were to be allegorically understood, and which did not belong to the category of foolish compositions.


Chap. LII.

After this, selecting from all the treatises which contain allegorical explanations and interpretations, expressed in a language and style not to be despised, the least important,175 such as might contribute, indeed, to strengthen the faith of the multitude of simple believers, but were not adapted to impress those of more intelligent mind, he continues: “Of such a nature do I know the work to be, entitled Controversy between one Papiscus and Jason, which is fitted to excite pity and hatred instead of laughter. It is not my purpose, however, to confute the statements contained in such works; for their fallacy is manifest to all, especially if any one will have the patience to read the books themselves. Rather do I wish to show that Nature teaches this, that God made nothing that is mortal, but that His works, whatever they are, are immortal, and theirs mortal. And the soul176 is the work of God, while the nature of the body is different. And in this respect there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a man; for the matter177 is the same, and their corruptible part is alike.” Nevertheless I could wish that every one who heard Celsus declaiming and asserting that the treatise entitled Controversy between Jason and Papiscus regarding Christ was fitted to excite not laughter, but hatred, could take the work into his hands, and patiently listen to its contents; that, finding in it nothing to excite hatred, he might condemn Celsus out of the book itself. For if it be impartially perused, it will be found that there is nothing to excite even laughter in a work in which a Christian is described as conversing with a Jew on the subject of the Jewish Scriptures, and proving that the predictions regarding Christ fitly apply to Jesus; although the other disputant maintains the discussion in no ignoble style, and in a manner not unbecoming the character of a Jew.


Chap. LIII.

I do not know, indeed, how he could conjoin things that do not admit of union, and which cannot exist together at the same time in human nature, in saying, as he did, that “the above treatise deserved to be treated both with pity and hatred.” For every one will admit that he who is the object of pity is not at the same moment an object of hatred, and that he who is the object of hatred is not at the same time a subject of pity. Celsus, moreover, says that it was not his purpose to refute such statements, because he thinks that their absurdity is evident to all, and that, even before offering any logical refutation, they will appear to be bad, and to merit both pity and hatred. But we invite him who peruses this reply of ours to the charges of Celsus to have patience, and to listen to our sacred writings themselves, and, as far as possible, to form an opinion from their contents of the purpose of the writers, and of their consciences and disposition of mind; for he will discover that they are men who strenuously contend for what they uphold, and that some of them show that the history which they narrate is one which they have both seen and experienced,178 which was miraculous, and worthy of being recorded for the advantage of their future hearers. Will any one indeed venture to say that it is not the source and fountain of all blessing179 (to men) to believe in the God of all things, and to perform all our actions with the view of pleasing Him in everything whatever, and not to entertain even a thought unpleasing to Him, seeing that not only our words and deeds, but our very thoughts, will be the subject of future judgment? And what other arguments would more effectually lead human nature to adopt a virtuous life, than the belief or opinion that the supreme God beholds all things, not only what is said and done, but even what is thought by us? And let any one who likes compare any other system which at the same time converts and ameliorates, not merely one or two individuals, but, as far as in it lies, countless numbers, that by the comparison of both methods he may form a correct idea of the arguments which dispose to a virtuous life.


Chap. LIV.

But as in the words which I quoted from Celsus, which are a paraphrase from the Timaeus, certain expressions occur, such as, “God made nothing mortal, but immortal things alone, while mortal things are the works of others, and the soul is a work of God, but the nature of the body is different, and there is no difference between the body of a man and that of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog; for the matter is the same, and their corruptible part alike,” – let us discuss these points for a little; and let us show that Celsus either does not disclose his Epicurean opinions, or, as might be said by one person, has exchanged them for better, or, as another might say, has nothing in common save the name, with Celsus, the Epicurean. For he ought, in giving expression to such opinions, and in proposing to contradict not only us, but the by no means obscure sect of philosophers who are the adherents of Zeno of Citium, to have proved that the bodies of animals are not the work of God, and that the great skill displayed in their construction did not proceed from the highest intelligence. And he ought also, with regard to the countless diversities of plants, which are regulated by an inherent, incomprehensible nature,180 and which have been created for the by no means despicable181 use of man in general, and of the animals which minister to man, whatever other reasons may be adduced for their existence,182 not only to have stated his opinion, but also to have shown us that it was no perfect intelligence which impressed these qualities upon the matter of plants. And when he had once represented (various) divinities as the creators of all the bodies, the soul alone being the work of God, why did not he, who separated these great acts of creation, and apportioned them among a plurality of creators, next demonstrate by some convincing reason the existence of these diversities among divinities, some of which construct the bodies of men, and others – those, say, of beasts of burden, and others – those of wild animals? And he who saw that some divinities were the creators of dragons, and of asps, and of basilisks, and others of each plant and herb according to its species, ought to have explained the causes of these diversities. For probably, had he given himself carefully to the investigation of each particular point, he would either have observed that it was one God who was the creator of all, and who made each thing with a certain object and for a certain reason; or if he had failed to observe this, he would have discovered the answer which he ought to return to those who assert that corruptibility is a thing indifferent in its nature; and that there was no absurdity in a world which consists of diverse materials, being formed by one architect, who constructed the different kinds of things so as to secure the good of the whole. Or, finally, he ought to have expressed no opinion at all on so important a doctrine, since he did not intend to prove what he professed to demonstrate; unless, indeed, he who censures others for professing a simple faith, would have us to believe his mere assertions, although he gave out that he would not merely assert, but would prove his assertions.


Chap. LV.

But I maintain that, if he had the patience (to use his own expression) to listen to the writings of Moses and the prophets, he would have had his attention arrested by the circumstance that the expression “God made” is applied to heaven and earth, and to what is called the firmament, and also to the lights and stars; and after these, to the great fishes, and to every living thing among creeping animals which the waters brought forth after their kinds, and to every fowl of heaven after its kind; and after these, to the wild beasts of the earth after their kind, and the beasts after their kind, and to every creeping thing upon the earth after its kind; and last of all to man. The expression “made,” however, is not applied to other things; but it is deemed sufficient to say regarding light, “And it was light;” and regarding the one gathering together of all the waters that are under the whole heaven, “It was so.” And in like manner also, with regard to what grew upon the earth, where it is said, “The earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after its kind and after its likeness, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself, after its kind, upon the earth.” He would have inquired, moreover, whether the recorded commands of God respecting the coming into existence of each part of the world were addressed to one thing or to several;183 and he would not lightly have charged with being unintelligible, and as having no secret meaning, the accounts related in these books, either by Moses, or, as we would say, by the Divine Spirit speaking in Moses, from whom also he derived the power of prophesying; since he “knew both the present, and the future, and the past,” in a higher degree than those priests who are alleged by the poets to have possessed a knowledge of these things.


Chap. LVI.

Moreover, since Celsus asserts that “the soul is the work of God, but that the nature of body is different; and that in this respect there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a man, for the matter is the same, and their corruptible part alike,” – we have to say in answer to this argument of his, that if, since the same matter underlies the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, or of a man, these bodies will differ in no respect from one another, it is evident then that these bodies also will differ in no respect from the sun, or the moon, or the stars, or the sky, or any other thing which is called by the Greeks a god, cognisable by the senses.184 For the same matter, underlying all bodies, is, properly speaking, without qualities and without form, and derives its qualities from some (other) source, I know not whence, since Celsus will have it that nothing corruptible can be the work of God. Now the corruptible part of everything whatever, being produced from the same underlying matter, must necessarily be the same, by Celsus’ own showing; unless, indeed, finding himself here hard pressed, he should desert Plato, who makes the soul arise from a certain bowl,185 and take refuge with Aristotle and the Peripatetics, who maintain that the ether is immaterial,186 and consists of a fifth nature, separate from the other four elements,187 against which view both the Platonists and the Stoics have nobly protested. And we too, who are despised by Celsus, will contravene it, seeing we are required to explain and maintain the following statement of the prophet: The heavens shall perish, but Thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture shall Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same.” (cf. Psa_102:26, Psa_102:27) These remarks, however, are sufficient in reply to Celsus, when he asserts that “the soul is the work of God, but that the nature of body is different;” for from his argument it follows that there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a heavenly188 being.


Chap. LVII.

See, then, whether we ought to yield to one who, holding such opinions, calumniates the Christians, and thus abandon a doctrine which explains the difference existing among bodies as due to the different qualities, internal and external, which are implanted in them. For we, too, know that there are “bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial;” and that “the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial another;” and that even the glory of the celestial bodies is not alike: for “one is the glory of the sun, and another the glory of the stars;” and among the stars themselves, “one star differeth from another star in glory.” (cf. 1Co_15:41, etc.) And therefore, as those who expect the resurrection of the dead, we assert that the qualities which are in bodies undergo change: since some bodies, which are sown in corruption, are raised in incorruption; and others, sown in dishonour, are raised in glory; and others, again, sown in weakness, are raised in power; and those which are sown natural bodies, are raised as spiritual. (cf. 1Co_15:44) That the matter which underlies bodies is capable of receiving those qualities which the Creator pleases to bestow, is a point which all of us who accept the doctrine of providence firmly hold; so that, if God so willed, one quality is at the present time implanted in this portion of matter, and afterwards another of a different and better kind. But since there are, from the beginning of the world, laws189 established for the purpose of regulating the changes of bodies, and which will continue while the world lasts, I do not know whether, when a new and different order of things has succeeded190 after the destruction of the world, and what our Scriptures call the end191 (of the ages), it is not wonderful that at the present time a snake should be formed out of a dead man, growing, as the multitude affirm, out of the marrow of the back,192 and that a bee should spring from an ox, and a wasp from a horse, and a beetle from an ass, and, generally, worms from the most of bodies, Celsus, indeed, thinks that this can be shown to be the consequence of none of these bodies being the work of God, and that qualities (I know not whence it was so arranged that one should spring out of another) are not the work of a divine intelligence, producing the changes which occur in the qualities of matter.


Chap. LVIII.

But we have something more to say to Celsus, when he declares that “the soul is the work of God, and that the nature of body is different,” and puts forward such an opinion not only without proof, but even without clearly defining his meaning; for he did not make it evident whether he meant that every soul is the work of God, or only the rational soul. This, then, is what we have to say: If every soul is the work of God, it is manifest that those of the meanest irrational animals are God’s work, so that the nature of all bodies is different from that of the soul. He appears, however, in what follows, where he says that “irrational animals are more beloved by God than we, and have a purer knowledge of divinity,” to maintain that not only is the soul of man, but in a much greater degree that of irrational animals, the work of God; for this follows from their being said to be more beloved by God than we. Now if the rational soul alone be the work of God, then, in the first place, he did not clearly indicate that such was his opinion; and in the second place, this deduction follows from his indefinite language regarding the soul – viz., whether not every one, but only the rational, is the work of God – that neither is the nature of all bodies different (from the soul). But if the nature of all bodies be not different, although the body of each animal correspond to its soul, it is evident that the body of that animal whose soul was the work of God, would differ from the body of that animal in which dwells a soul which was not the work of God. And so the assertion will be false, that there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a man.


Chap. LIX.

For it would, indeed, be absurd that certain stones and buildings should be regarded as more sacred or more profane than others, according as they were constructed for the honour of God, or for the reception of dishonourable and accursed persons;193 while bodies should not differ from bodies, according as they are inhabited by rational or irrational beings, and according as these rational beings are the most virtuous or most worthless of mankind. Such a principle of distinction, indeed, has led some to deify the bodies of distinguished men,194 as having received a virtuous soul, and to reject and treat with dishonour those of very wicked individuals. I do not maintain that such a principle has been always soundly exercised, but that it had its origin in a correct idea. Would a wise man, indeed, after the death of Anytus and Socrates, think of burying the bodies of both with like honours? And would he raise the same mound or tomb to the memory of both? These instances we have adduced because of the language of Celsus, that “none of these is the work of God” (where the words “of these” refer to the body of a man or to the snakes which come out of the body and to that of an ox, or of the bees which come from the body of an ox; and to that of a horse or of an ass, and to the wasps which come from a horse, and the beetles which proceed from an ass); for which reason we have been obliged to return to the consideration of his statement, that “the soul is the work of God, but that the nature of body is different.”


Chap. LX.

He next proceeds to say, that “a common nature pervades all the previously mentioned bodies, and one which goes and returns the same amid recurring changes.”195 In answer to this it is evident from what has been already said that not only does a common nature pervade those bodies which have been previously enumerated, but the heavenly bodies as well. And if this is the case, it is clear also that, according to Celsus (although I do not know whether it is according to truth), it is one nature which goes and returns the same through all bodies amid recurring changes. It is evident also that this is the case in the opinion of those who hold that the world is to perish; while those also who hold the opposite view will endeavour to show, with out the assumption of a fifth substance,196 that in their judgment too it is one nature “which goes and returns the same through all bodies amid recurring changes.” And thus, even that which is perishable remains in order to undergo a change;197 for the matter which underlies (all things), while its properties perish, stir abides according to the opinion of those who hold it to be uncreated. If, however, it can be shown by any arguments not to be uncreated, but to have been created for certain purposes, it is clear that it will not have the same nature of permanency which it would possess on the hypothesis of being uncreated. But it is not our object at present, in answering the charges of Celsus, to discuss these questions of natural philosophy.


Chap. LXI.

He maintains, moreover, that “no product of matter is immortal.” Now, in answer to this it may be said, that if no product of matter is immortal, then either the whole world is immortal, and thus not a product of matter, or it is not immortal. If, accordingly, the world is immortal (which is agreeable to the view of those who say that the soul alone is the work of God, and was produced from a certain bowl), let Celsus show that the world was not produced from a matter devoid of qualities, remembering his own assertion that “no product of matter is immortal.” If, however, the world is not immortal (seeing it is a product of matter), but mortal, does it also perish, or does it not? For if it perish, it will perish as being a work of God; and then, in the event of the world perishing, what will become of the soul, which is also a work of God? Let Celsus answer this! But if, perverting the notion of immortality, he will assert that, although perishable, it is immortal, because it does not really perish; that it is capable of dying, but does not actually die, – it is evident that, according to him, there will exist something which is at the same time mortal and immortal, by being capable of both conditions; and that which does not die will be mortal, and that which is not immortal by nature will be termed in a peculiar sense immortal, because it does not die! According to what distinction, then, in the meaning of words, will he maintain that no product of matter is immortal? And thus you see that the ideas contained in his writings, when closely examined and tested, are proved not to be sound and incontrovertible.198 And after making these assertions he adds: “On this point these remarks are sufficient; and if any one is capable of hearing and examining further, he will come to know (the truth).” Let us, then, who in his opinion are unintelligent individuals, see what will result from our being able to listen to him for a little, and so continue our investigation.


Chap. LXII.

After these matters, then, he thinks that he can make us acquainted in a few words with the questions regarding the nature of evil, which have been variously discussed in many important treatises, and which have received very opposite explanations. His words are: “There neither were formerly, nor are there now, nor will there be again, more or fewer evils in the world (than have always been). For the nature of all things is one and the same, and the generation of evils is always the same.” He seems to have paraphrased these words from the discussions in the Theaetetus, where Plato makes Socrates say: “It is neither possible for evils to disappear from among men, nor for them to become established among the gods,” and so on. But he appears to me not to have understood Plato correctly, although professing to include all truth199 in this one treatise, and giving to his own book against us the title of A True Discourse. For the language in the Timaeus, where it is said, “When the gods purify the earth with water,” shows that the earth, when purified with water, contains less evil than it did before its purification. And this assertion, that there at one time were fewer evils in the world, is one which we make, in harmony with the opinion of Plato, because of the language in the Theaetetus, where he says that “evils cannot disappear from among men.”200


Chap. LXIII.

I do not understand how Celsus, while admitting the existence of Providence, at least so far as appears from the language of this book, can say that there never existed (at any time) either more or fewer evils, but, as it were, a fixed number; thus annihilating the beautiful doctrine regarding the indefinite201 nature of evil, and asserting that evil, even in its own nature,202 is infinite. Now it appears to follow from the position, that there never have been, nor are now, nor ever will be, more or fewer evils in the world; that as, according to the view of those who hold the indestructibility of the world, the equipoise of the elements is maintained by a Providence (which does not permit one to gain the preponderance over the others, in order to prevent the destruction of the world), so a kind of Providence presides, as it were, over evils (the number of which is fixed),203 to prevent their being either increased or diminished! In other ways, too, are the arguments of Celsus concerning evil confuted, by those philosophers who have investigated the subjects of good and evil, and who have proved also from history that in former times it was without the city, and with their faces concealed by masks, that loose women hired themselves to those who wanted them; that subsequently, becoming more impudent, they laid aside their masks, though not being permitted by the laws to enter the cities, they (still) remained without them, until, as the dissoluteness of manners daily increased, they dared even to enter the cities. Such accounts are given by Chrysippus in the introduction to his work on Good and Evil. From this also it may be seen that evils both increase and decrease, viz., that those individuals who were called “Ambiguous”204 used formerly to present themselves openly to view, suffering and committing all shameful things, while subserving the passions of those who frequented their society; but recently they have been expelled by the authorities.205 And of countless evils which, owing to the spread of wickedness, have made their appearance in human life, we may say that formerly they did not exist. For the most ancient histories, which bring innumerable other accusations against sinful men, know nothing of the perpetrators of abominable206 crimes.


Chap. LXIV.

And now, after these arguments, and others of a similar kind, how can Celsus escape appearing in a ridiculous light, when he imagines that there never has been in the past, nor will be in the future, a greater or less number of evils? For although the nature of all things is one and the same, it does not at all follow that the production of evils is a constant quantity.207 For although the nature of a certain individual is one and the same, yet his mind, and his reason, and his actions, are not always alike:208 there being a time when he had not yet attained to reason; and another, when, with the possession of reason, he had become stained with wickedness, and when this increased to a greater or less degree; and again, a time when he devoted himself to virtue, and made greater or less progress therein, attaining sometimes the very summit of perfection, through longer or shorter periods of contemplation.209 In like manner, we may make the same assertion in a higher degree of the nature of the universe,210 that although it is one and the same in kind, yet neither do exactly the same things, nor yet things that are similar, occur in it; for we neither have invariably productive nor unproductive seasons, nor yet periods of continuous rain or of drought. And so in the same way, with regard to virtuous souls, there are neither appointed periods of fertility nor of barrenness; and the same is the case with the greater or less spread of evil. And those who desire to investigate all things to the best of their ability, must keep in view this estimate of evils, that their amount is not always the same, owing to the working of a Providence which either preserves earthly things, or purges them by means of floods and conflagrations; and effects this, perhaps, not merely with reference to things on earth, but also to the whole universe of things211 I which stands in need of purification, when the wickedness that is in it has become great.


Chap. LXV.

After this Celsus continues: “It is not easy, indeed, for one who is not a philosopher to ascertain the origin of evils, though it is sufficient for the multitude to say that they do not proceed from God, but cleave to matter, and have their abode among mortal things; while the course212 of mortal things being the same from beginning to end, the same things must always, agreeably to the appointed cycles,213 recur in the past, present, and future.” Celsus here observes that it is not easy for one who is not a philosopher to ascertain the origin of evils, as if it were an easy matter for a philosopher to gain this knowledge, while for one who is not a philosopher it was difficult, though still possible, for such an one, although with great labour, to attain it. Now, to this we say, that the origin of evils is a subject which is not easy even for a philosopher to master, and that perhaps it is impossible even for such to attain a clear understanding of it, unless it be revealed to them by divine inspiration, both what evils are, and how they originated, and how they shall be made to disappear. But although ignorance of God is an evil, and one of the greatest of these is not to know how God is to be served and worshipped, yet, as even Celsus would admit, there are undoubtedly some philosophers who have been ignorant of this, as is evident from the views of the different philosophical sects; whereas, according to our judgment, no one is capable of ascertaining the origin of evils who does not know that it is wicked to suppose that piety is preserved uninjured amid the laws that are established in different states, in conformity with the generally prevailing ideas of government.214 No one, moreover, who has not heard what is related of him who is called “devil,” and of his “angels,” and what he was before he became a devil, and how he became such, and what was the cause of the simultaneous apostasy of those who are termed his angels, will be able to ascertain the origin of evils. But he who would attain to this knowledge must learn more accurately the nature of demons, and know that they are not the work of God so far as respects their demoniacal nature, but only in so far as they are possessed of reason; and also what their origin was, so that they became beings of such a nature, that while converted into demons, the powers of their mind215 remain. And if there be any topic of human investigation which is difficult for our nature to grasp, certainly the origin of evils may be considered to be such.


Chap. LXVI.

Celsus in the next place, as if he were able to tell certain secrets regarding the origin of evils, but chose rather to keep silence, and say only what was suitable to the multitude, continues as follows: “It is sufficient to say to the multitude regarding the origin of evils, that they do not proceed from God, but cleave to matter, and dwell among mortal things.” It is true, certainly, that evils do not proceed from God; for according to Jeremiah, one of our prophets, it is certain that “out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good.”216 But to maintain that matter, dwelling among mortal things, is the cause of evils, is in our opinion not true. For it is the mind of each individual which is the cause of the evil which arises in him, and this is evil (in the abstract);217 while the actions which proceed from it are wicked, and there is, to speak with accuracy, nothing else in our view that is evil. I am aware, however, that this topic requires very elaborate treatment, which (by the grace of God enlightening the mind) may be successfully attempted by him who is deemed by God worthy to attain the necessary knowledge on this subject.


Chap. LXVII.

I do not understand how Celsus should deem it of advantage, in writing a treatise against us, to adopt an opinion which requires at least much plausible reasoning to make it appear, as far as he can do so, that “the course of mortal things is the same from beginning to end, and that the same things must always, according to the appointed cycles, recur in the past, present, and future.” Now, if this be true, our free-will is annihilated.218 For if, in the revolution of mortal things, the same events must perpetually occur in the past, present, and future, according to the appointed cycles, it is clear that, of necessity, Socrates will always be a philosopher, and be condemned for introducing strange gods and for corrupting the youth. And Anytus and Melitus must always be his accusers, and the council of the Areopagus must ever condemn him to death by hemlock. And in the same way, according to the appointed cycles, Phalaris must always play the tyrant, and Alexander of Pherae commit the same acts of cruelty, and those condemned to the bull of Phalaris continually pour forth their wailings from it. But if these things be granted, I do not see how our free-will can be preserved, or how praise or blame can be administered with propriety. We may say further to Celsus, in answer to such a view, that “if the course of moral things be always the same from beginning to end, and if, according to the appointed cycles, the same events must always occur in the past, present, and future,” then, according to the appointed cycles, Moses must again come forth from Egypt with the Jewish people, and Jesus again come to dwell in human life, and perform the same actions which (according to this view) he has done not once, but countless times, as the periods have revolved. Nay, Christians too will be the same in the appointed cycles; and Celsus will again write this treatise of his, which he has done innumerable times before.



Celsus, however, says that it is only “the course of mortal things which, according to the appointed cycles, must always be the same in the past, present, and future;” whereas the majority of the Stoics maintain that this is the case not only with the course of mortal, but also with that of immortal things, and of those whom they regard as gods. For after the conflagration of the world,219 which has taken place countless times in the past, and will happen countless times in the future, there has been, and will be, the same arrangement of all things from the beginning to the end. The Stoics, indeed, in endeavouring to parry, I don’t know how, the objections raised to their views, allege that as cycle after cycle returns, all men will be altogether unchanged220 from those who lived in former cycles; so that Socrates will not live again, but one altogether like to Socrates, who will marry a wife exactly like Xanthippe, and will be accused by men exactly like Anytus and Melitus. I do not understand, however, how the world is to be always the same, and one individual not different from another, and yet the things in it not the same, though exactly alike. But the main argument in answer to the statements of Celsus and of the Stoics will be more appropriately investigated elsewhere, since on the present occasion it is not consistent with the purpose we have in view to expatiate on these points.


Chap. LXIX.

He continues to say that “neither have visible things221 been given to man (by God), but each individual thing comes into existence and perishes for the sake of the safety of the whole passing agreeably to the change, which I have already mentioned, from one thing to another.” It is unnecessary, however, to linger over the refutation of these statements, which have been already refuted to the best of my ability. And the following, too, has been answered, viz., that “there will neither be more nor less good and evil among mortals.” This point also has been referred to, viz., that “God does not need to amend His work afresh.”222 But it is not as a man who has imperfectly designed some piece of workmanship, and executed it unskilfully, that God administers correction to the world, in purifying it by a flood or by a conflagration, but in order to prevent the tide of evil from rising to a greater height; and, moreover, I am of opinion that it is at periods which are precisely determined beforehand that He sweeps wickedness away, so as to contribute to the good of the whole world.223 If, however, he should assert that, after the disappearance of evil, it again comes into existence, such questions will have to be examined in a special treatise.224 It is, then, always in order to repair what has become faulty225 that God desires to amend His work afresh. For although, in the creation of the world, all things had been arranged by Him in the most beautiful and stable manner, He nevertheless needed to exercise some healing power upon those who were labouring under the disease of wickedness, and upon a whole world, which was polluted as it were thereby. But nothing has been neglected by God, or will be neglected by Him; for He does at each particular juncture what it becomes Him to do in a perverted and changed world. And as a husbandman performs different acts of husbandry upon the soil and its productions, according to the varying seasons of the year, so God administers entire ages of time, as if they were, so to speak, so many individual years, performing during each one of them what is requisite with a reasonable regard to the care of the world; and this, as it is truly understood by God alone, so also is it accomplished by Him.


Chap. LXX.

Celsus has made a statement regarding evils of the following nature, viz., that “although a thing may seem to you to be evil, it is by no means certain that it is so; for you do not know what is of advantage to yourself, or to another, or to the whole world.” Now this assertion is made with a certain degree of caution;226 and it hints that the nature of evil is not wholly wicked, because that which may be considered so in individual cases, may contain something which is of advantage to the whole community. However, lest any one should mistake my words, and find a pretence of wrongdoing, as if his wickedness were profitable to the world, or at least might be so, we have to say, that although God, who preserves the free-will of each individual, may make use of the evil of the wicked for the administration of the world, so disposing them as to conduce to the benefit of the whole; yet, notwithstanding, such an individual is deserving of censure, and as such has been appointed for a use, which is a subject of loathing to each separate individual, although of advantage to the whole community.227 It is as if one were to say that in the case of a city, a man who had committed certain crimes, and on account of these had been condemned to serve in public works that were useful to the community, did something that was of advantage to the entire city, while he himself was engaged in an abominable task,228 in which no one possessed of moderate understanding would wish to be engaged. Paul also, the apostle of Jesus, teaches us that even the very wicked will contribute to the good of the whole, while in themselves they will be amongst the vile, but that the most virtuous men, too, will be of the greatest advantage to the world, and will therefore on that account occupy the noblest position. His words are: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work.” (cf. 2Ti_2:20, 2Ti_2:21) These remarks I have thought it necessary to make in reply to the assertion, that “although a thing may seem to you to be evil, it is by no means certain that it is so, for you do not know what is of advantage either to yourself or to another,” in order that no one may take occasion from what has been said on the subject to commit sin, on the pretext that he will thus be useful to the world. 


Chap. LXXI.

But as, in what follows, Celsus, not understanding that the language of Scripture regarding God is adapted to an anthropopathic point of view,229 ridicules those passages which speak of words of anger addressed to the ungodly, and of threatenings directed against sinners, we have to say that, as we ourselves, when talking with very young children, do not aim at exerting our own power of eloquence,230 but, adapting ourselves to the weakness of our charge, both say and do those things which may appear to us useful for the correction and improvement of the children as children, so the word of God appears to have dealt with the history, making the capacity of the hearers, and the benefit which they were to receive, the standard of the appropriateness of its announcements (regarding Him). And, generally, with regard to such a style of speaking about God, we find in the book of Deuteronomy the following: “The Lord thy God bare with your manners, as a man would bear with the manners of his son.”231 It is, as it were, assuming the manners of a man in order to secure the advantage of men that the Scripture makes use of such expressions; for it would not have been suitable to the condition of the multitude, that what God had to say to them should be spoken by Him in a manner more befitting the majesty of His own person. And yet he who is anxious to attain a true understanding of holy Scripture, will discover the spiritual truths which are spoken by it to those who are called “spiritual,” by comparing the meaning of what is addressed to those of weaker mind with what is announced to such as are of acuter understanding, both meanings being frequently found in the same passage by him who is capable of comprehending it.


Chap. LXXII.

We speak, indeed, of the “wrath” of God. We do not, however, assert that it indicates any “passion” on His part, but that it is something which is assumed in order to discipline by stern means those sinners who have committed many and grievous sins. For that which is called God’s “wrath,” and “anger,” is a means of discipline; and that such a view is agreeable to Scripture, is evident from what is said in the sixth Psalm, “O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure;” (cf. Psa_6:1) and also in Jeremiah. “O Lord, correct me, but with judgment: not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing.” (cf. Jer_10:24) Any one, moreover, who reads in the second book of Kings of the “wrath” of God, inducing David to number the people, and finds from the first book of Chronicles that it was the devil who suggested this measure, will, on comparing together the two statements, easily see for what purpose the “wrath” is mentioned, of which “wrath,” as the Apostle Paul declares, all men are children: “We were by nature children of wrath, even as others.” (cf. Eph_2:3) Moreover, that “wrath” is no passion on the part of God, but that each one brings it upon himself by his sins, will be clear from the further statement of Paul: “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” How, then, can any one treasure up for himself “wrath” against a “day of wrath,” if “wrath” be understood in the sense of “passion?” or how can the “passion of wrath” be a help to discipline? Besides, the Scripture, which tells us not to be angry at all, and which says in the thirty-seventh Psalm, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath,” (cf. Psa_37:8) and which commands us by the mouth of Paul to “put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication,” (cf. Col_3:8) would not involve God in the same passion from which it would have us to be altogether free. It is manifest, further, that the language used regarding the wrath of God is to be understood figuratively from what is related of His “sleep,” from which, as if awaking Him, the prophet says: “Awake, why sleepest Thou, Lord?” (Psa_44:23) and again: “Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.” (cf. Psa_78:65) If, then, “sleep” must mean something else, and not what the first acceptation of the word conveys, why should not “wrath” also be understood in a similar way? The “threatenings,” again, are intimations of the (punishments) which are to befall the wicked: for it is as if one were to call the words of a physician “threats,” when he tells his patients, “I will have to use the knife, and apply cauteries, if you do not obey my prescriptions, and regulate your diet and mode of life in such a way as I direct you.” It is no human passions, then, which we ascribe to God, nor impious opinions which we entertain of Him; nor do we err when we present the various narratives concerning Him, drawn from the Scriptures themselves, after careful comparison one with another. For those who are wise ambassadors of the “word” have no other object in view than to free as far as they can their hearers from weak opinions, and to endue them with intelligence.



And as a sequel to his non-understanding of the statements regarding the “wrath” of God, he continues: “Is it not ridiculous to suppose that, whereas a man, who became angry with the Jews, slew them all from the youth upwards, and burned their city (so powerless were they to resist him), the mighty God, as they say, being angry, and indignant, and uttering threats, should, (instead of punishing them,) send His own Son, who endured the sufferings which He did?” If the Jews, then, after the treatment which they dared to inflict upon Jesus, perished with all their youth, and had their city consumed by fire, they suffered this punishment in consequence of no other wrath than that which they treasured up for themselves; for the judgment of God against them, which was determined by the divine appointment, is termed “wrath” agreeably to a traditional usage of the Hebrews. And what the Son of the mighty God suffered, He suffered voluntarily for the salvation of men, as has been stated to the best of my ability in the preceding pages. He then continues: “But that I may speak not of the Jews alone (for that is not my object), but of the whole of nature, as I promised, I will bring out more clearly what has been already stated.” Now what modest man, on reading these words, and knowing the weakness of humanity, would not be indignant at the offensive nature of the promise to give an account of the “whole of nature,” and at an arrogance like that which prompted him to inscribe upon his book the title which he ventured to give it (of a True Discourse)? But let us see what he has to say regarding the “whole of nature,” and what he is to place “in a clearer light.”


Chap. LXXIV.

He next, in many words, blames us for asserting that God made all things for the sake of man. Because from the history of animals, and from the sagacity manifested by them, he would show that all things came into existence not more for the sake of man than of the irrational animals. And here he seems to me to speak in a similar manner to those who, through dislike of their enemies, accuse them of the same things for which their own friends are commended. For as, in the instance referred to, hatred blinds these persons from seeing that they are accusing their very dearest friends by the means through which they think they are slandering their enemies; so in the same way, Celsus also, becoming confused in his argument, does not see that he is bringing a charge against the philosophers of the Porch, who, not amiss, place man in the foremost rank, and rational nature in general before irrational animals, and who maintain that Providence created all things mainly on account of rational nature. Rational beings, then, as being the principal ones, occupy the place, as it were, of children in the womb, while irrational and soulless beings hold that of the envelope which is created along with the child.232 I think, too, that as in cities the superintendents of the goods and market discharge their duties for the sake of no other than human beings, while dogs and other irrational animals have the benefit of the superabundance; so Providence provides in a special manner for rational creatures; while this also follows, that irrational creatures likewise enjoy the benefit of what is done for the sake of man. And as he is in error who alleges that the superintendents of the markets233 make provision in no greater degree for men than for dogs, because dogs also get their share of the goods; so in a far greater degree are Celsus and they who think with him guilty of impiety towards the God who makes provision for rational beings, in asserting that His arrangements are made in no greater degree for the sustenance of human beings than for that of plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns.





169 κατὰ τὴν πρώτην ἐκδοχήν.

170 τοὺς σπερματικοὺς λόγους.

171 κατὰ τὸν προηγούμενον νοῦν.

172 προβλήματα καὶ παραβολαί.

173 ἐπὰν ἐπακούσῃ τοῦ παρ ἑαυτοῦ πάντα ποιήσαντος.

174 cf. 2Ti_3:8. [Note this testimony concerning Numenius.]

175 τὸ εὐτελέστερον.

176 ψυχή.

177 ὕλη.

178 The reading in the text of Spencer and of the Benedictine ed. is καταλειφθεῖσαν, for which Lommatzsch has adopted the conjecture of Boherellus, καταληφθεῖσαν.

179 ὠφελείας.

180 ὑπ ἐνυπαρχούσης ἀφαντάστου φύσεως διοικουμένων.

181 πρὸς χρείαν οὐκ εὐκαταφρόνητον.

182 ὅπως ποτὲ ἄλλως ὄντων.

183 τίνι ἢ τίσιν.

184 αἰσθητοῦ θεοῦ.

185 cf. Plato in Timaeo.

186 ἄΰλον.

187 πέμπτης παρὰ τὰ τέσσαρα στοιχεῖα εἶναι φύσεως.

188 αἰθερίου.

189 ὁδοί.

190 καινῆς διαδεξαμένης ὁδοῦ καὶ ἀλλοίας, etc. For διαδεξαμένης, Boherellus would read διαδεξομένης. cf. Origen, de Princip., iii. c. 5; ii. c. 3. [See also Neander’s Church History, vol. 1. p. 328, and his remarks on “the general ἀποκατάστασις” of Origen. S.]

191 συντέλεια.

192 cf. Pliny, x. c. 66: “Anguem ex medullâ hominis spinae gigni accepimus a multis.” cf. also Ovid, Metamorphos., xv. fab. iv.

193 σωμάτων.

194 τῶν διαφερόντων.

195 καὶ μία εἰς ἀμοιβὴν παλίντροπον ἰοῦσα καὶ ἐπανιοῦσα.

196 σῶμα.

197 οὕτω δὲ καὶ τὸ ἀπολλύμενον εἰς μεταβολὴν διαμένει.

198 διελέγχεται οὐκ ἐπιδεχόμενα τὸ γενναῖον καὶ ἀναντίῤῥητον.

199 ὁ τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐκπεριλαμβάνων.

200 [cf. Plato, Theaetetus, xxv. p. 176. S.]

201 αόριστον.

202 καὶ τῷ ἰδίῳ λόγῳ.

203 τοσοῖσδε τυγχάνουσιν.

204 Ἀμφίβολοι.

205 Ἀγορανόμοι.

206 ἀῤῥητοποιοὺς οὐκ ἴσασι.

207 οὑ πάντως καὶ ἡ τῶν κακῶν γένεσις ἀεὶ ἡ αὐτή.

208 οὐκ ἀεὶ τὰ αὐτά ἐστι περὶ τὸ ἡγεμονικὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ, καὶ τὰς πράξεις.

209 θωερίαις.

210 τῶν ὅλων.

211 τὰ ἐν ὁλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ.

212 περίοδος.

213 κατὰ τὰς τεταγμένας ἀνακυκλήσεις.

214 μὴ ἐγνωκὼς κακὸν εἶναι τὸ νομίζειν εὐσέβειαν σώζεσθαι ἐν τοῖς καθεστηκόσι κατὰ τὰς κοινότερον νοουμένας πολιτείας νόμοις.

215 τὸ ἡγεμονικόν.

216 cf. Lam_3:38. [In the Authorized Version and in the Vulgate the passage is interrogative. S.]

217 ἤτις ἐστὶ τὸ κακόν.

218 τὸ ἐφ ἡμῖν ἀνῄρηται.

219 τοῦ παντός.

220 ἀπαραλλάκτους.

221 τὰ ὁρώμενα.

222 οὔτε τῷ Θεῷ καινοτέρας δεῖ διορθώσεως.

223 ὅτι καὶ πάντη τεταγμένως αὐτὴν ἀφανίζων συμφερόντως τῷ παντί.

224 [See note supra, p. 524. S.]

225 τὰ σφάλματα ἀναλαμβάνειν.

226 ἔχει τὶ εὐλαβές.

227 καὶ ὡς ψεκτὸς κατατέτακται εἰς χρείαν ἀπευκταίαν μὲν ἐκάστῳ, χρήσιμον δὲ τῷ παντί.

228 ἐν ἀπευκταίῳ πράγματι.

229 [See chap. xii., note 36]

230 οὐ τοῦ ἑαυτῶν ἐν τῷ λέγειν στοχαζόμεθα δυνατοῦ.

231 cf. Deu_1:31. Origen appears to have read, not ἐτροφόρησεν, the common reading (Hebrew גָשָׂא), but ἐτροποφόρησεν, the reading of the Codex Alex.

232 καὶ λόγον μὲν ἔχει τὰ λογικὰ, ἅπερ ἐστὶ προηγούμενα, παίδων γεννωμένων· τὰ δ ἄλογα καὶ τὰ ἄψυχα χωρίου συγκτιζομένου τᾷ παιδίῳ.

233 ἀγορανόμοι.

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

Book IV. (C0nt.)

Chap. LXXV.

For, in the first place, he is of opinion that “thunders, and lightnings, and rains are not the works of God,” – thus showing more clearly at last his Epicurean leanings; and in the second place, that “even if one were to grant that these were the works of God, they are brought into existence not more for the support of us who are human beings, than for that of plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns,” – maintaining, like a true Epicurean, that these things are the product of chance, and not the work of Providence. For if these things are of no more use to us than to plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns, it is evident either that they do not proceed from Providence at all, or from a providence which does not provide for us in a greater degree than for trees, and herbs, and thorns. Now, either of these suppositions is impious in itself, and it would be foolish to refute such statements by answering any one who brought against us the charge of impiety; for it is manifest to every one, from what has been said, who is the person guilty of impiety. In the next place, he adds: “Although you may say that these things, viz., plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns, grow for the use of men, why will you maintain that they grow for the use of men rather than for that of the most savage of irrational animals?” Let Celsus then say distinctly that the great diversity among the products of the earth is not the work of Providence, but that a certain fortuitous concurrence of atoms234 gave birth to qualities so diverse, and that it was owing to chance that so many kinds of plants, and trees, and herbs resemble one another, and that no disposing reason gave existence to them,235 and that they do not derive their origin from an understanding that is beyond all admiration. We Christians, however, who are devoted to the worship of the only God, who created these things, feel grateful for them to Him who made them, because not only for us, but also (on our account) for the animals which are subject to us, He has prepared such a home,236 seeing “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man, that He may bring forth food out of the earth, and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.” (cf. Psa_104:14, Psa_104:15) But that He should have provided food even for the most savage animals is not matter of surprise, for these very animals are said by some who have philosophized (upon the subject) to have been created for the purpose of affording exercise to the rational creature. And one of our own wise men says somewhere: “Do not say, What is this? or Wherefore is that? for all things have been made for their uses. And do not say, What is this? or Wherefore is that? for everything shall be sought out in its season.” (cf. Ecclesiasticus 39:21, and Ecclesiasticus 39:16, 17.)


Chap. LXXVI.

After this, Celsus, desirous of maintaining that Providence created the products of the earth, not more on our account than on that of the most savage animals, thus proceeds: “We indeed by labour and suffering earn a scanty and toilsome subsistence,237 while all things are produced for them without their sowing and ploughing.” He does not observe that God, wishing to exercise the human understanding in all countries (that it might not remain idle and unacquainted with the arts), created man a being full of wants,238 in order that by virtue of his very needy condition he might be compelled to be the inventor of arts, some of which minister to his subsistence, and others to his protection. For it was better that those who would not have sought out divine things, nor engaged in the study of philosophy, should be placed in a condition of want, in order that they might employ their understanding in the invention of the arts, than that they should altogether neglect the cultivation of their minds, because their condition was one of abundance. The want of the necessaries of human life led to the invention on the one hand of the art of husbandry, on the other to that of the cultivation of the vine; again, to the art of gardening, and the arts of carpentry and smithwork, by means of which were formed the tools required for the arts which minister to the support of life. The want of covering, again, introduced the art of weaving, which followed that of wool-carding and spinning; and again, that of house-building: and thus the intelligence of men ascended even to the art of architecture. The want of necessaries caused the products also of other places to be conveyed, by means of the arts of sailing and pilotage,239 to those who were without them; so that even on that account one might admire the Providence which made the rational being subject to want in a far higher degree than the irrational animals, and yet all with a view to his advantage. For the irrational animals have their food provided for them, because there is not in them even an impulse240 towards the invention of the arts. They have, besides, a natural covering; for they are provided either with hair, or wings, or scales, or shells. Let the above, then, be our answer to the assertions of Celsus, when he says that “we indeed by labour and suffering earn a scanty and toilsome subsistence, while all things are produced for them without their sowing and ploughing.”



In the next place, forgetting that his object is to accuse both Jews and Christians, he quotes against himself an iambic verse of Euripides, which is opposed to his view, and, joining issue with the words, charges them with being an erroneous statement. His words are as follow: “But if you will quote the saying of Euripides, that

‘The Sun and Night are to mortals slaves,’241

why should they be so in a greater degree to us than to ants and flies? For the night is created for them in order that they may rest, and the day that they may see and resume their work.” Now it is undoubted, that not only have certain of the Jews and Christians declared that the sun and the heavenly bodies242 are our servants; but he also has said this, who, according to some, is the philosopher of the stage,243 and who was a hearer of the lectures on the philosophy of nature delivered by Anaxagoras. But this man asserts that all things in the world are subject to all rational beings, – one rational nature being taken to represent all, On the principle of a part standing for the whole;244 which, again, clearly appears from the verse: – 

“The Sun and Night are to mortals slaves.”

Perhaps the tragic poet meant the day when he said the sun, inasmuch as it is the cause of the day, – teaching that those things which most need the day and night are the things which are under the moon, and other things in a less degree than those which are upon the earth. Day and night, then, are subject to mortals, being created for the sake of rational beings. And if ants and flies, which labour by day and rest by night, have, besides, the benefit of those things which were created for the sake of men, we must not say that day and night were brought into being for the sake of ants and flies, nor must we suppose that they were created for the sake of nothing, but, agreeably to the design of Providence, were formed for the sake of man.



He next proceeds further to object against himself245 what is said on behalf of man, viz., that the irrational animals were created on his account, saying: “If one were to call us the lords of the animal creation because we hunt the other animals and live upon their flesh, we would say, Why were not we rather created on their account, since they hunt and devour us? Nay, we require nets and weapons, and the assistance of many persons, along with dogs, when engaged in the chase; while they are immediately and spontaneously provided by nature with weapons which easily bring us under their power.” And here we may observe, that the gift of understanding has been bestowed upon us as a mighty aid, far superior to any weapon which wild beasts may seem to possess. We, indeed, who are far weaker in bodily strength than the beasts, and shorter in stature than some of them, yet by means of our understanding obtain the mastery, and capture the huge elephants. We subdue by our gentle treatment those animals whose nature it is to be tamed, while with those whose nature is different, or which do not appear likely to be of use to us when tamed, we take such precautionary measures, that when we desire it, we keep such wild beasts shut up; and when we need the flesh of their bodies for food, we slaughter them, as we do those beasts which are not of a savage nature. The Creator, then, has constituted all things the servants of the rational being and of his natural understanding. For some purposes we require dogs, say as guardians of our sheep-folds, or of our cattle-yards, or goat-pastures, or of our dwellings; and for other purposes we need oxen, as for agriculture; and for others, again, we make use of those which bear the yoke, or beasts of burden. And so it may be said that the race of lions, and bears, and leopards, and wild boars, and such like, has been given to us in order to call into exercise the elements of the manly character that exists within us.


Chap. LXXIX.

In the next place, in answer to the human race, who perceive their own superiority, which far exceeds that of the irrational animals, he says: “With respect to your assertion, that God gave you the power to capture wild beasts, and to make your own use of them, we would say that, in all probability, before cities were built, and arts invented, and societies such as now exist were formed, and weapons and nets employed, men were generally caught and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were very seldom captured by men.” Now, in reference to this, observe that although men catch wild beasts, and wild beasts make prey of men, there is a great difference between the case of such as by means of their understanding obtain the mastery over those whose superiority consists in their savage and cruel nature, and that of those who do not make use of their understanding to secure their safety from injury by wild beasts. But when Celsus gays, “before cities were built, and arts invented, and societies such as now exist were formed,” he appears to have forgotten what he had before said, that “the world was uncreated and incorruptible, and that it was only the things on earth which underwent deluges and conflagrations, and that all these things did not happen at the same time.” Now let if be granted that these admissions on his part are entirely in harmony with our views, though not at all with him and his statements made above; yet what does it all avail to prove that in the beginning men were mostly captured and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were never caught by men? For, since the world was created in conformity with the will of Providence, and God presided over the universe of things, it was necessary that the elements246 of the human race should at the commencement of its existence be placed under some protection of the higher powers, so that there might be formed from the beginning a union of the divine nature with that of men. And the poet of Ascra, perceiving this, sings: – 

“For common then were banquets, and common were seats,

Alike to immortal gods and mortal men.”247


Chap. LXXX.

Those holy Scriptures, moreover, which bear the name of Moses, introduce the first men as hearing divine voices and oracles, and beholding sometimes the angels of God coming to visit them.248 For it was probable that in the beginning of the world’s existence human nature would be assisted to a greater degree (than afterwards), until progress had been made towards the attainment of understanding and the other virtues, and the invention of the arts, and they should thus be able to maintain life of themselves, and no longer stand in need of superintendents, and of those to guide them who do so with a miraculous manifestation of the means which subserve the will of God. Now it follows from this, that it is false that “in the beginning men were captured and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were very seldom caught by men.” And from this, too, it is evident that the following statement of Celsus is untrue, that “in this way God rather subjected men to wild beasts.” For God did not subject men to wild beasts, but gave wild beasts to be a prey to the understanding of man, and to the arts, which are directed against them, and which are the product of the understanding. For it was not without the help of God249 that men desired for themselves the means of protection against wild beasts, and of securing the mastery over them.


Chap. LXXXI.

Our noble opponent, however, not observing how many philosophers there are who admit the existence of Providence, and who hold that Providence created all things for the sake of rational beings, overturns as far as he can those doctrines which are of use in showing the harmony that prevails in these matters between Christianity and philosophy; nor does he see how great is the injury done to religion from accepting the statement that before God there is no difference between a man and an ant or a bee, but proceeds to add, that “if men appear to be superior to irrational animals on this account, that they have built cities, and make use of a political constitution, and forms of government, and sovereignties,250 this is to say nothing to the purpose, for ants and bees do the same. Bees, indeed, have a sovereign, who has followers and attendants; and there occur among them wars and victories, and slaughterings of the vanquished,251 and cities and suburbs, and a succession of labours, and judgments passed upon the idle and the wicked; for the drones are driven away and punished.” Now here he did not observe the difference that exists between what is done after reason and consideration, and what is the result of an irrational nature, and is purely mechanical. For the origin of these things is not explained by the existence of any rational principle in those who make them, because they do not possess any such principle; but the most ancient Being, who is also the Son of God, and the King of all things that exist, has created an irrational nature, which, as being irrational, acts as a help to those who are deemed worthy of reason. Cities, accordingly, were established among men, with many arts and well-arranged laws; while constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties among men are either such as are properly so termed, and which exemplify certain virtuous tendencies and workings, or they are those which are improperly so called, and which were devised, so far as could be done, in imitation of the former: for it was by contemplating these that the most successful legislators established the best constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties. None of these things, however, can be found among irrational animals, although Celsus may transfer rational names, and arrangements which belong to rational beings, as cities and constitutions, and rulers and sovereignties, even to ants and bees; in respect to which matters, however, ants and bees merit no approval, because they do not act from reflection. But we ought to admire the divine nature, which extended even to irrational animals the capacity, as it were, of imitating rational beings, perhaps with a view of putting rational beings to shame; so that by looking upon ants, for instance, they might become more industrious and more thrifty in the management of their goods; while, by considering the bees, they might place themselves in subjection to their Ruler, and take their respective parts in those constitutional duties which are of use in ensuring the safety of cities.



Perhaps also the so-called wars among the bees convey instruction as to the manner in which wars, if ever there arise a necessity for them, should be waged in a just and orderly way among men. But the bees have no cities or suburbs; while their hives and hexagonal cells, and succession of labours, are for the sake of men, who require honey for many purposes, both for cure of disordered bodies, and as a pure article of food. Nor ought we to compare the proceedings taken by the bees against the drones with the judgments and punishments inflicted on the idle and wicked in cities. But, as I formerly said, we ought on the one hand in these things to admire the divine nature, and on the other to express our admiration of man, who is capable of considering and admiring all things (as co-operating with Providence), and who executes not merely the works which are determined by the providence of God, but also those which are the consequences of his own foresight.



After Celsus has finished speaking of the bees, in order to depreciate (as far as he can) the cities, and constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties not only of us Christians, but of all mankind, as well as the wars which men undertake on behalf of their native countries, he proceeds, by way of digression, to pass a eulogy upon the ants, in order that, while praising them, he may compare the measures which men take to secure their subsistence with those adopted by these insects,252 and so evince his contempt for the forethought which makes provision for winter, as being nothing higher than the irrational providence of the ants, as he regards it. Now might not some of the more simple-minded, and such as know not how to look into the nature of all things, be turned away (so far, at least, as Celsus could accomplish it) from helping those who are weighed down with the burdens (of life), and from sharing their toils, when he says of the ants, that “they help one another with their loads, when they see one of their number toiling under them?” For he who needs to be disciplined by the word, but who does not at all understand253 its voice, will say: “Since, then, there is no difference between us and the ants, even when we help those who are weary with bearing their heavy burdens, why should we continue to do so to no purpose?” And would not the ants, as being irrational creature, be greatly puffed up, and think highly of themselves, because their works were compared to those of men? while men, on the other hand, who by means of their reason are enabled to hear how their philanthropy254 towards others is contemned, would be injured, so far as could be effected by Celsus and his arguments: for he does not perceive that, while he wishes to turn away from Christianity those who read his treatise, he turns away also the sympathy of those who are not Christians from those who bear the heaviest burdens (of life). Whereas, had he been a philosopher, who was capable of perceiving the good which men may do each other, he ought, in addition to not removing along with Christianity the blessings which are found amongst men, to have lent his aid to co-operate (if he had it in his power) with those principles of excellence which are common to Christianity and the rest of mankind. Moreover, even if the ants set apart in a place by themselves those grains which sprout forth, that they may not swell into bud, but may continue throughout the year as their food, this is not to be deemed as evidence of the existence of reason among ants, but as the work of the universal mother, Nature, which adorned even irrational animals, so that even the most insignificant is not omitted, but bears traces of the reason implanted in it by nature. Unless, indeed, by these assertions Celsus means obscurely to intimate (for in many instances he would like to adopt Platonic ideas) that all souls are of the same species, and that there is no difference between that of a man and those of ants and bees, which is the act of one who would bring down the soul from the vault of heaven, and cause it to enter not only a human body, but that of an animal. Christians, however, will not yield their assent to such opinions: for they have been instructed before now that the human soul was created in the image of God; and they see that it is impossible for a nature fashioned in the divine image to have its (original) features altogether obliterated, and to assume others, formed after I know not what likeness of irrational animals.



And since he asserts that, “when ants die, the survivors set apart a special place (for their interment), and that their ancestral sepulchres such a place is,” we have to answer, that the greater the laudations which he heaps upon irrational animals, so much the more does he magnify (although against his will) the work of that reason which arranged all things in order, and points out the skill255 which exists among men, and which is capable of adorning by its reason even the gifts which are bestowed by nature on the irrational creation. But why do I say “irrational,” since Celsus is of opinion that these animals, which, agreeably to the common ideas of all men, are termed irrational, are not really so? Nor does he regard the ants as devoid of reason, who professed to speak of “universal nature,” and who boasted of his truthfulness in the inscription of his book. For, speaking of the ants conversing with one another, he uses the following language: “And when they meet one another they enter into conversation, for which reason they never mistake their way; consequently they possess a full endowment of reason, and some common ideas on certain general subjects, and a voice by which they express themselves regarding accidental things.”256 Now conversation between one man and another is carried on by means of a voice, which gives expression to the meaning intended, and which also gives utterances concerning what are called “accidental things;” but to say that this was the case with ants would be a most ridiculous assertion.


Chap. LXXXV.

He is not ashamed, moreover, to say, in addition to these statements (that the unseemly character257 of his opinions may be manifest to those who will live after him): “Come now, if one were to look down from heaven upon earth, in what respect would our actions appear to differ from those of ants and bees?” Now does he who, according to his own supposition, looks from heaven upon the proceedings of men and ants, look upon their bodies alone, and not rather have regard to the controlling reason which is called into action by reflection;258 while, on the other hand, the guiding principle of the latter is irrational, and set in motion irrationally by impulse and fancy, in conjunction with a certain natural apparatus?259 But it is absurd to suppose that he who looks from heaven upon earthly things would desire to look from such a distance upon the bodies of men and ants, and would not rather consider the nature of the guiding principles, and the source of impulses, whether that be rational or irrational. And if he once look upon the source of all impulses, it is manifest that he would behold also the difference which exists, and the superiority of man, not only over ants, but even over elephants. For he who looks from heaven will see among irrational creatures, however large their bodies, no other principle260 than, so to speak, irrationality;261 while amongst rational beings he will discover reason, the common possession of men, and of divine and heavenly beings, and perhaps of the Supreme God Himself, on account of which man is said to have been created in the image of God, for the image of the Supreme God is his reason.262



Immediately after this, as if doing his utmost to reduce the human race to a still lower position, and to bring them to the level of the irrational animals, and desiring to omit not a single circumstance related of the latter which manifests their greatness, he declares that “in certain individuals among the irrational creation there exists the power of sorcery;” so that even in this particular men cannot specially pride themselves, nor wish to arrogate a superiority over irrational creatures. And the following are his words: “If, however, men entertain lofty notions because of their possessing the power of sorcery, yet even in that respect are serpents and eagles their superiors in wisdom; for they are acquainted with many prophylactics against persons and diseases, and also with the virtues of certain stones which help to preserve their young. If men, however, fall in with these, they think that they have gained a wonderful possession.” Now, in the first place, I know not why he should designate as sorcery the knowledge of natural prophylactics displayed by animals, – whether that knowledge be the result of experience, or of some natural power of apprehension;263 for the term “sorcery” has by usage been assigned to something else. Perhaps, indeed, he wishes quietly, as an Epicurean, to censure the entire use of such arts, as resting only on the professions of sorcerers. However, let it be granted him that men do pride themselves greatly upon the knowledge of such arts, whether they are sorcerers or not: how can serpents be in this respect wiser than men, when they make use of the well-known fennel264 to sharpen their power of vision and to produce rapidity of movement, having obtained this natural power not from the exercise of reflection, but from the constitution of their body,265 while men do not, like serpents, arrive at such knowledge merely by nature, but partly by experiment, partly by reason, and sometimes by reflection and knowledge? So, if eagles, too, in order to preserve their young in the nest, carry thither the eagle-stone266 when they have discovered it, how does it appear that they are wise, and more intelligent than men, who find out by the exercise of their reflective powers and of their understanding what has been bestowed by nature upon eagles as a gift?



Let it be granted, however, that there are other prophylactics against poisons known to animals: what does that avail to prove that it is not nature, but reason, which leads to the discovery of such things among them? For if reason were the discoverer, this one thing (or, if you will, one or two more things) would not be (exclusive267 of all others) the sole discovery made by serpents, and some other thing the sole discovery of the eagle, and so on with the rest of the animals; but as many discoveries would have been made amongst them as among men. But now it is manifest from the determinate inclination of the nature of each animal towards certain kinds of help, that they possess neither wisdom nor reason, but a natural constitutional tendency implanted by the Logos268 towards such things in order to ensure the preservation of the animal. And, indeed, if I wished to join issue with Celsus in these matters, I might quote the words of Solomon from the book of Proverbs, which run thus: “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but these are wiser than the wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; the conies269 are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet go they forth in order at one command; and the spotted lizard,270 though leaning upon its hands, and being easily captured, dwelleth in kings’ fortresses.” (cf. Pro_30:24-28) I do not quote these words, however, as taking them in their literal signification, but, agreeably to the title of the book (for it is inscribed “Proverbs”), I investigate them as containing a secret meaning. For it is the custom of these writers (of Scripture) to distribute into many classes those writings which express one sense when taken literally,271 but which convey a different signification as their hidden meaning; and one of these kinds of writing is “Proverbs.” And for this reason, in our Gospels too, is our Saviour described as saying: “These things have I spoken to you in proverbs, but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs.” (Joh_16:25) It is not, then, the visible ants which are “wiser even than the wise,” but they who are indicated as such under the “proverbial” style of expression. And such must be our conclusion regarding the rest of the animal creation, although Celsus regards the books of the Jews and Christians as exceedingly simple and commonplace,272 and imagines that those who give them an allegorical interpretation do violence to the meaning of the writers. By what we have said, then, let it appear that Celsus calumniates us in vain, and let his assertions that serpents and eagles are wiser than men also receive their refutation.



And wishing to show at greater length that even the thoughts of God entertained by the human race are not superior to those of all other mortal creatures, but that certain of the irrational animals are capable of thinking about Him regarding whom opinions so discordant have existed among the most acute of mankind – Greeks and Barbarians – he continues: “If, because man has been able to grasp the idea of God, he is deemed superior to the other animals, let those who hold this opinion know that this capacity will be claimed by many of the other animals; and with good reason: for what would any one maintain to be more divine than the power of foreknowing and predicting future events? Men accordingly acquire the art from the other animals, and especially from birds. And those who listen to the indications furnished by them, become possessed of the gift of prophecy. If, then, birds, and the other prophetic animals, which are enabled by the gift of God to foreknow events, instruct us by means of signs, so much the nearer do they seem to be to the society of God, and to be endowed with greater wisdom, and to be more beloved by Him. The more intelligent of men, moreover, say that the animals hold meetings which are more sacred than our assemblies, and that they know what is said at these meetings, and show that in reality they possess this knowledge, when, having previously stated that the birds have declared their intention of departing to some particular place, and of doing this thing or the other, the truth of their assertions is established by the departure of the birds to the place in question, and by their doing what was foretold. And no race of animals appears to be more observant of oaths than the elephants are, or to show greater devotion to divine things; and this, I presume, solely because they have some knowledge of God.” See here now how he at once lays hold of, and brings forward as acknowledged facts, questions which are the subject of dispute among those philosophers, not only among the Greeks, but also among the Barbarians, who have either discovered or learned from certain demons some things about birds of augury and other animals, by which certain prophetic intimations are said to be made to men. For, in the first place, it has been disputed whether there is an art of augury, and, in general, a method of divination by animals, or not. And, in the second place, they who admit that there is an art of divination by birds, are not agreed about the manner of the divination; since some maintain that it is from certain demons or gods of divination273 that the animals receive their impulses to action – the birds to flights and sounds of different kinds, and the other animals to movements of one sort or another. Others, again, believe that their souls are more divine in their nature, and fitted to operations of that kind, which is a most incredible supposition.



Celsus, however, seeing he wished to prove by the foregoing statements that the irrational animals are more divine and intelligent than human beings, ought to have established at greater length the actual existence of such an art of divination, and in the next place have energetically undertaken its defence, and effectually refuted the arguments of those who would annihilate such arts of divination, and have overturned in a convincing manner also the arguments of those who say that it is from demons or from gods that animals receive the movements which lead them to divination, and to have proved in the next place that the soul of irrational animals is more divine than that of man. For, had he done so, and manifested a philosophical spirit in dealing with such things, we should to the best of our power have met his confident assertions, refuting in the first place the allegation that irrational animals are wiser than men, and showing the falsity of the statement that they have ideas of God more sacred than ours, and that they hold among themselves certain sacred assemblies. But now, on the contrary, he who accuses us because we believe in the Supreme God, requires us to believe that the souls of birds entertain ideas of God more divine and distinct than those of men. Yet if this is true, the birds have clearer ideas of God than Celsus himself; and it is not matter of surprise that it should be so with him, who so greatly depreciates human beings. Nay, so far as Celsus can make it appear, the birds possess grander and more divine ideas than, I do not say we Christians do, or than the Jews, who use the same Scriptures with ourselves, but even than are possessed by the theologians among the Greeks, for they were only human beings. According to Celsus, indeed, the tribe of birds that practise divination, forsooth, understand the nature of the Divine Being better than Pherecydes, and Pythagoras, and Socrates and Plato! We ought then to go to the birds as our teachers, in order that as, according to the view of Celsus, they instruct us by their power of divination in the knowledge of future events, so also they may free men from doubts regarding the Divine Being, by imparting to them the clear ideas which they have obtained respecting Him! It follows, accordingly, that Celsus, who regards birds as superior to men, ought to employ them as his instructors, and not one of the Greek philosophers.


Chap. XC.

But we have a few remarks to make, out of a larger number, in answer to these statements of Celsus, that we may show the ingratitude towards his Maker which is involved in his holding these false opinions.274 For Celsus, although a man, and “being in honour,” (Psa_49:12) does not possess understanding, and therefore he did not compare himself with the birds and the other irrational animals, which he regards as capable of divining; but yielding to them the foremost place, he lowered himself, and as far as he could the whole human race with him (as entertaining lower and inferior views of God than the irrational animals), beneath the Egyptians, who worship irrational animals as divinities. Let the principal point of investigation, however, be this: whether there actually is or not an art of divination, by means of birds and other living things believed to have such power. For the arguments which tend to establish either view are not to be despised. On the one hand, it is pressed upon us not to admit such an art, lest the rational being should abandon the divine oracles, and betake himself to birds; and on the other, there is the energetic testimony of many, that numerous individuals have been saved from the greatest dangers by putting their trust in divination by birds. For the present, however, let it be granted that an art of divination does exist, in order that I may in this way show to those who are prejudiced on the subject, that if this be admitted, the superiority of man over irrational animals, even over those that are endowed with power of divination, is great, and beyond all reach of comparison with the latter. We have then to say, that if there was in them any divine nature capable of foretelling future events, and so rich (in that knowledge) as out of its superabundance to make them known to any man who wished to know them, it is manifest that they would know what concerned themselves far sooner (than what concerned others); and had they possessed this knowledge, they would have been upon their guard against flying to any particular place Where men had planted snares and nets to catch them, or where archers took aim and shot at them in their flight. And especially, were eagles aware beforehand of the designs formed against their young, either by serpents crawling up to their nests and destroying them, or by men who take them for their amusement, or for any other useful purpose or service, they would not have placed their young in a spot where they were to be attacked; and, in general, not one of these animals would have been captured by men, because they were more divine and intelligent than they. 


Chap. XCI.

But besides, if birds of augury converse with one another,275 as Celsus maintains they do, the prophetic birds having a divine nature, and the other rational animals also ideas of the divinity and foreknowledge of future events; and if they had communicated this knowledge to others, the sparrow mentioned in Homer would not have built her nest in the spot where a serpent was to devour her and her young ones, nor would the serpent in the writings of the same poet have failed to take precautions against being captured by the eagle. For this wonderful poet says, in his poem regarding the former: – 

“A mighty dragon shot, of dire portent;

From Jove himself the dreadful sign was sent.

Straight to the tree his sanguine spires he rolled,

And curled around in many a winding fold.

The topmost branch a mother-bird possessed;

Eight callow infants filled the mossy nest;

Herself the ninth: the serpent, as he hung,

Stretched his black jaws, and crashed the dying young;

While hovering near, with miserable moan,

The drooping mother wailed her children gone.

The mother last, as round the nest she flew,

Seized by the beating wing, the monster slew:

Nor long survived: to marble turned, he stands

A lasting prodigy on Aulis’ sands.

Such was the will of Jove; and hence we dare

Trust in his omen, and support the war.”276

And regarding the second – the bird – the poet says: – 

“Jove’s bird on sounding pinions beat the skies;

A bleeding serpent of enormous size,

His talons twined; alive, and curling round,

He stung the bird, whose throat received the wound.

Mad with the smart, he drops the fatal prey,

In airy circles wings his painful way,

Floats on the winds, and rends the heaven with cries;

Amidst the host, the fallen serpent lies.

They, pale with terror, mark its spires unrolled,

And Jove’s portent with beating hearts behold.”277

Did the eagle, then, possess the power of divination, and the serpent (since this animal also is made use of by the augurs) not? But as this distinction can be easily refuted, cannot the assertion that both were capable of divination be refuted also? For if the serpent had possessed this knowledge, would not he have been on his guard against suffering what he did from the eagle? And innumerable other instances of a similar character may be found, to show that animals do not possess a prophetic soul, but that, according to the poet and the majority of mankind, it is the “Olympian himself who sent him to the light.” And it is with a symbolical meaning278 that Apollo employs the hawk279 as his messenger, for the hawk280 is called the “swift messenger of Apollo.”281


Chap. XCII.

In my opinion, however, it is certain wicked demons, and, so to speak, of the race of Titans or Giants, who have been guilty of impiety towards the true God, and towards the angels in heaven, and who have fallen from it, and who haunt the denser parts of bodies, and frequent unclean places upon earth, and who, possessing some power of distinguishing future events, because they are without bodies of earthly material, engage in an employment of this kind, and desiring to lead the human race away from the true God, secretly enter the bodies of the more rapacious and savage and wicked of animals, and stir them up to do whatever they choose, and at whatever time they choose: either turning the fancies of these animals to make flights and movements of various kinds, in order that men may be caught by the divining power that is in the irrational animals, and neglect to seek after the God who contains all things; or to search after the pure worship of God, but allow their reasoning powers to grovel on the earth, and amongst birds and serpents, and even foxes and wolves. For it has been observed by those who are skilled in such matters, that the clearest prognostications are obtained from animals of this kind; because the demons cannot act so effectively in the milder sort of animals as they can in these, in consequence of the similarity between them in point of wickedness; and yet it is not wickedness, but something like wickedness,282 which exist in these animals.


Chap. XCIII.

For which reason, whatever else there may be in the writings of Moses which excites my wonder, I would say that the following is worthy of admiration, viz. that Moses, having observed the varying natures of animals, and having either learned from God what was peculiar to them, and to the demons which are kindred to each of the animals, or having himself ascertained these things by his own wisdom, has, in arranging the different kinds of animals, pronounced all those which are supposed by the Egyptians and the rest of mankind to possess the power of divination to be unclean, and, as a general rule, all that are not of that class to be clean. And amongst the unclean animals mentioned by Moses are the wolf, and fox, and serpent, and eagle, and hawk, and such like. And, generally speaking, you will find that not only in the law, but also in the prophets, these animals are employed as examples of all that is most wicked; and that a wolf or a fox is never mentioned for a good purpose. Each species of demon, consequently, would seem to possess a certain affinity with a certain species of animal. And as among men there are some who are stronger than others, and this not at all owing to their moral character, so, in the same way, some demons will be more powerful in things indifferent than others;283 and one class of them employs one kind of animal for the purpose of deluding men, in accordance with the will of him who is called in our Scriptures the “prince of this world,” while others predict future events by means of another kind of animal. Observe, moreover, to what a pitch of wickedness the demons proceed, so that they even assume the bodies of weasels in order to reveal the future! And now, consider with yourself whether it is better to accept the belief that it is the Supreme God and His Son who stir up the birds and the other living creatures to divination, or that those who stir up these creatures, and not human beings (although they are present before them), are wicked, and, as they are called by our Scriptures, unclean demons.


Chap. XCIV.

But if the soul of birds is to be esteemed divine because future events are predicted by them, why should we not rather maintain, that when omens284 are accepted by men, the souls of those are divine through which the omens are heard? Accordingly, among such would be ranked the female slave mentioned in Homer, who ground the corn, when she said regarding the suitors: – 

“For the very last time, now, will they sup here.”285

This slave, then, was divine, while the great Ulysses, the friend of Homer’s Pallas Athene, was not divine, but understanding the words spoken by this “divine” grinder of corn as an omen, rejoiced, as the poet says: – 

“The divine Ulysses rejoiced at the omen.”286

Observe, now, as the birds are possessed of a divine soul, and are capable of perceiving God, or, as Celsus says, the gods, it is clear that when we men also sneeze, we do so in consequence of a kind of divinity that is within us, and which imparts a prophetic power to our soul. For this belief is testified by many witnesses, and therefore the poet also says: – 

“And while he prayed, he sneezed.”287

And Penelope, too, said: – 

“Perceiv’st thou not that at every word my son did sneeze?”288


Chap. XCV.

The true God, however, neither employs irrational animals, nor any individuals whom chance may offer,289 to convey a knowledge of the future; but, on the contrary, the most pure and holy of human souls, whom He inspires and endows with prophetic power. And therefore, whatever else in the Mosaic writings may excite our wonder, the following must be considered as fitted to do so: “Ye shall not practise augury, nor observe the flight of birds;”290 and in another place: “For the nations whom the Lord thy God will destroy from before thy face, shall listen to omens and divinations; but as for thee, the Lord thy God has not suffered thee to do so.” (cf. Deu_18:14, cf. Deu_18:12) And he adds: “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from among your brethren.” (cf. Deu_18:15) On one occasion, moreover, God, wishing by means of an augur to turn away (His people) from the practice of divination, caused the spirit that was in the augur to speak as follows: “For there is no enchantment in Jacob, nor is there divination in Israel. In due time will it be declared to Jacob and Israel what the Lord will do.” (cf. Num_23:23) And now, we who knew these and similar sayings wish to observe this precept with the mystical meaning, viz., “Keep thy heart with all diligence,” (Pro_4:23) that nothing of a demoniacal nature may enter into our minds, or any spirit of our adversaries turn our imagination whither it chooses. But we pray that the light of the knowledge of the glory of God may shine in our hearts, and that the Spirit of God may dwell in our imaginations, and lead them to contemplate the things of God; for “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (cf. Rom_8:14)


Chap. XCVI.

We ought to take note, however, that the power of foreknowing the future is by no means a proof of divinity; for in itself it is a thing indifferent, and is found occurring amongst both good and bad. Physicians, at any rate, by means of their professional skill foreknow certain things, although their character may happen to be bad. And in the same way also pilots, although perhaps wicked men, are able to foretell the signs291 (of good or bad weather), and the approach of violent tempests of wind, and atmospheric changes,292 because they gather this knowledge from experience and observation, although I do not suppose that on that account any one would term them “gods” if their characters happened to be bad. The assertion, then, of Celsus is false, when he says: “What could be called more divine than the power of foreknowing and foretelling the future?” And so also is this, that “many of the animals claim to have ideas of God;” for none of the irrational animals possess any idea of God. And wholly false, too, is his assertion, that “the irrational animals are nearer the society of God (than men),” when even men who are still in a state of wickedness, however great their progress in knowledge, are far removed from that society. It is, then, those alone who are truly wise and sincerely religious who are nearer to God’s society; such persons as were our prophets, and Moses, to the latter of whom, on account of his exceeding purity, the Scripture said: “Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but the rest shall not come nigh.” (cf. Exo_24:2)


Chap. XCVII.

How impious, indeed, is the assertion of this man, who charges us with impiety, that “not only are the irrational animals wiser than the human race, but that they are more beloved by God (than they)!” And who would not be repelled (by horror) from paying any attention to a man who declared that a serpent, and a fox, and a wolf, and an eagle, and a hawk, were more beloved by God than the human race? For it follows from his maintaining such a position, that if these animals be more beloved by God than human beings, it is manifest that they are dearer to God than Socrates, and Plato, and Pythagoras, and Pherecydes, and those theologians whose praises he had sung a little before. And one might address him with the prayer: “If these animals be dearer to God than men, may you be beloved of God along with them, and be made like to those whom you consider as dearer to Him than human beings!” And let no one suppose that such a prayer is meant as an imprecation; for who would not pray to resemble in all respects those whom he believes to be dearer to God than others, in order that he, like them, may enjoy the divine love? And as Celsus is desirous to show that the assemblies of the irrational animals are more sacred than ours, he ascribes the statement to that effect not to any ordinary individuals, but to persons of intelligence. Yet it is the virtuous alone who are truly wise, for no wicked man is so. He speaks, accordingly, in the following style: “Intelligent men say that these animals hold assemblies which are more sacred than ours, and that they know what is spoken at them, and actually prove that they are not without such knowledge, when they mention beforehand that the birds have announced their intention of departing to a particular place, or of doing this thing or that, and then show that they have departed to the place in question, and have done the particular thing which was foretold.” Now, truly, no person of intelligence ever related such things; nor did any wise man ever say that the assemblies of the irrational animals were more sacred than those of men. But if, for the purpose of examining (the soundness of) his statements, we look to their consequences, it is evident that, in his opinion, the assemblies of the irrational animals are more sacred than those of the venerable Pherecydes, and Pythagoras, and Socrates, and Plato, and of philosophers in general; which assertion is not only incongruous293 in itself, but full of absurdity. In order that we may believe, however, that certain individuals do learn from the indistinct sound of birds that they are about to take their departure, and do this thing or that, and announce these things beforehand, we would say that this information is imparted to men by demons by means of signs, with the view of having men deceived by demons, and having their understanding dragged down from God and heaven to earth, and to places lower still.



I do not know, moreover, how Celsus could hear of the elephants’ (fidelity to) oaths, and of their great devotedness to our God, and of the knowledge which they possess of Him. For I know many wonderful things which are related of the nature of this animal, and of its gentle disposition. But I am not aware that any one has spoken of its observance of oaths; unless indeed to its gentle disposition, and its observance of compacts, so to speak, when once concluded between it and man, he give the name of keeping its oath, which statement also in itself is false. For although rarely, yet sometimes it has been recorded that, after their apparent tameness, they have broken out against men in the most savage manner, and have committed murder, and have been on that account condemned to death, because no longer of any use. And seeing that after this, in order to establish (as he thinks he does) that the stork is more pious than any human being, he adduces the accounts which are narrated regarding that creature’s display of filial affection294 in bringing food to its parents for their support, we have to say in reply, that this is done by the storks, not from a regard to what is proper, nor from reflection, but from a natural instinct; the nature which formed them being desirous to show an instance among the irrational animals which might put men to shame, in the matter of exhibiting their gratitude to their parents. And if Celsus had known how great the difference is between acting in this way from reason, and from an irrational natural impulse, he would not have said that storks are more pious than human beings. But further, Celsus, as still contending for the piety of the irrational creation, quotes the instance of the Arabian bird the phoenix, which after many years repairs to Egypt, and bears thither its parent, when dead and buried in a ball of myrrh, and deposits its body in the Temple of the Sun. Now this story is indeed recorded, and, if it be true,295 it is possible that it may occur in consequence of some provision of nature; divine providence freely displaying to human beings, by the differences which exist among living things, the variety of constitution which prevails in the world, and which extends even to birds, and in harmony with which He has brought into existence one creature, the only one of its kind, in order that by it men may be led to admire, not the creature, but Him who created it.


Chap. XCIX.

In addition to all that he has already said, Celsus subjoins the following: “All things, accordingly, were not made for man, any more than they were made for lions, or eagles, or dolphins, but that this world, as being God’s work, might be perfect and entire in all respects. For this reason all things have been adjusted, not with reference to each other, but with regard to their bearing upon the whole.296 And God takes care of the whole, and (His) providence will never forsake it; and it does not become worse; nor does God after a time bring it back to himself; nor is He angry on account of men any more than on account of apes or flies; nor does He threaten these beings, each one of which has received its appointed lot in its proper place.” Let us then briefly reply to these statements. I think, indeed, that I have shown in the preceding pages that all things were created for man, and every rational being, and that it was chiefly for the sake of the rational creature that the creation took place. Celsus, indeed, may say that this was done not more for man than for lions, or the other creatures which he mentions; but we maintain that the Creator did not form these things for lions, or eagles, or dolphins, but all for the sake of the rational creature, and “in order that this world, as being God’s work, might be perfect and complete in all things.” For to this sentiment we must yield our assent as being well said. And God takes care, not, as Celsus supposes, merely of the whole, but beyond the whole, in a special degree of every rational being. Nor will Providence ever abandon the whole; for although it should become more wicked, owing to the sin of the rational being, which is a portion of the whole, He makes arrangements to purify it, and after a time to bring back the whole to Himself. Moreover, He is not angry with apes or flies; but on human beings, as those who have transgressed the laws of nature, He sends judgments and chastisements, and threatens them by the mouth of the prophets, and by the Saviour who came to visit the whole human race, that those who hear the threatenings may be converted by them, while those who neglect these calls to conversion may deservedly suffer those punishments which it becomes God, in conformity with that will of His which acts for the advantage of the whole, to inflict upon those who need such painful discipline and correction. But as our fourth book has now attained sufficient dimensions, we shall here terminate our discourse. And may God grant, through His Son, who is God the Word, and Wisdom, and Truth, and Righteousness, and everything else which the sacred Scriptures when speaking of God call Him, that we may make a good beginning of the fifth book, to the benefit of our readers, and may bring it to a successful conclusion, with the aid of His word abiding in our soul. 



(Stated in obscure terms, with advantage.)

Turn back to the Second Apology of Justin (cap. ix.), “Eternal punishment not a mere threat;”297 also to Clement (Stromata, iv. cap. xxiv.), “the reason and end of divine punishments.”298 Now compare Gieseler299 (vol. i. p. 212) for what he so sweepingly asserts. And on the doctrine of Origen, let me quote a very learned and on such points a most capable judge, the late erudite and pious half-Gallican Dr. Pusey. He says: – 

“Celsus and Origen are both witnesses that Christians believed in the eternity of punishment. Celsus, to weaken the force of the argument from the sufferings which the martyrs underwent sooner than abjure Christianity, tells Origen that heathen priests taught the same doctrine of eternal punishment as the Christians, and that the only question was, which was right.300

“Origen answers, ‘I should say that the truth lies with those who are able to induce their hearers to live as men convinced of the truth of what they have heard. Jews and Christians have been thus affected by the doctrines which they hold about the world to come, the rewards of the righteous, and the punishments of the wicked. Who have been moved in this way, in regard to eternal punishments, by the teaching of heathen priests and mystagogues?’

“Origen’s answer acknowledges that the doctrine of eternal punishment had been taught to Christians, that One [Christ] had taught it, and that it had produced the effects He had [in view] in teaching it; viz., to set Christians to strive with all their might to conquer the sin which produced it.”301

On this most painful subject my natural feelings are much with Canon Farrar; but, after lifelong application to the subject, I must think Dr. Pusey holds with his Master, Christ. I feel willing to leave it all with Him who died for sinners, and the cross shuts my mouth. “Herein is love;” and I cannot dictate to such love, from my limited mind, and capacity, and knowledge of His universe. Here let “every thought be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Let us sacrifice “imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself,” and leave our Master alike supreme in our affections and over our intellectual powers. He merits such subjection. Let us preach His words, and leave Him to explain them when He shall “condemn every tongue that shall rise against Him in judgment.”

Let me also refer to Bledsoe’s most solemn and searching reply to John Foster; also to his answer to Lord Kames’s effort to help the Lord out of a supposed difficulty.302 I am sorry that Tillotson exposed himself to a witty retort by the same author, in these words: “If the Almighty really undertook to deceive the world for its own good, it is a pity He did not take the precaution to prevent the archbishop from detecting the cheat, … not suffering his secret to get into the possession of one who has so indiscreetly published it.” The awful importance of the subject, and the recently awakened interest in its discussion, have led me to enlarge this annotation. 





234 συντυχία τις ἀτόμων.

235 οὐδεὶς λόγος τεχνικὸς ὑπέστησεν αὐτά.

236 ἑστίαν.

237 μόλις καὶ ἐπιπόνως.

238 ἐπιδεῆ.

239 διὰ ναυτικῆς καὶ κυβερνητικῆς.

240 ἀφορμήν.

241 cf. Eurip., Phoeniss., 546.

242 τὰ ἐν οὐρανῷ.

243 ὁ κατά τινας Σκηνικὸς φιλόσοφος. Euripides himself is the person alluded to. He is called by Athenaeus and Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom., v. xi., vol. 2. p. 461), ὁ ἐπὶ τῆς σκηνῆς φιλόσοφος. – De la Rue.

244 συνεκδοχικῶς.

245 ἑαυτῷ ἀνθυποφέρει.

246 ζώπυρα.

247 cf. Hesiod, Fragmenta Incerta, ed. Goettling, p. 231.

248 [cf. Wordsworth, Excursion: “He sat and talked, ” etc., book iv., circa med.]

249 οὐ γὰρ ἀθεεί.

250 ἡγεμονίαις.

251 τῶν ἡττημένων αἱρέσεις. “Nota αἱρέσεις hoc loco sumi pro internecionibus, caedibus. Haud scio an alibi reperiatur pari signigicatu. Forte etiam scribendum καθαιρέσεις.” – Ruaeus.

252 παραβάῃ τῷ λόγῳ πρὸς τοὺς μύρμηκας. “Verba: τῷ λόγῳ πρὸς τοὺς μύρμηκας addititia videntur et recidenda.” – Ruaeus.

253 ἐπαἱων.

254 τὸ κοινωνικόν.

255 ἐντρέχειαν.

256 οὐκοῦν καὶ λόγου συμπλήρωσίς ἐστι παρ αὐτοῖς, καὶ κοιναὶ ἔννοιαι καθολικῶν τινων, καὶ φωνὴ, καὶ τυγχάνοντα σημαινόμενα.

257 ἀσχημοσύνην.

258 οὐκατανοεῖ δὲ τὸ λογικὸν ἡγεμονικὸν καὶ λογισμῷ κινούμενον;

259 μετά τινος φυσικῆς ὑποκατασκευῆς.

260 ἀρχήν.

261 τὴν ἀλογίαν.

262 λόγος.

263 φυσικήν τινα κατάληψιν.

264 τῷ μαράθρῳ.

265 ἀλλ ἐκ κατασκευῆς.

266 [The ἀετίτης. See Pliny, N. H., x. 4.]

267 αποτεταγμένως.

268 ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου γεγενημένη.

269 χοιρογρύλλιοι. Hebrew שְׁפַנִּים.

270 ἀσκαλαβώτης.

271 αὐτόθεν.

272 ιδιωτικά.

273 θεῶν μαντικῶν.

274 τὴν ἀχάριστον ψευδοδοξιαν.

275 εἴπερ οἰωνοὶ οἰωνοῖς μάχονται. For μάχονται Ruaeus conjectures διαλέγονται, which is adopted by Lommatzsch.

276 Homer, Iliad, ii. 308 sq. (Pope’s translation).

277 Homer, Iliad, xii. 200 sq. (Pope’s translation).

278 κατὰ δέ τι σημεῖον.

279 ἱέραξ.

280 κίρκος, “the hen harrier,” “Falco,” or “Circus pygargus.” cf. Liddell and Scott, s.v.

281 cf. Homer, Odyss., xv. 526.

282 καὶ οὐ κακίαν μὲν, οἱονεὶ δὲ κακίαν οὖσαν.

283 ἐν μέσοις.

284 κληδόνες.

285 cf. Homer, Odyss., iv. 685; cf. also xx. 116, 119.

286 cf. Homer, Odyss., xx. 120.

287 cf. Homer, Odyss., xvii. 541.

288 cf. Homer, Odyss., xvii. 545.

289 οὔτε τοῖς τυχοῦσι τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

290 cf. Lev_19:26. The Septuagint here differs from the Masoretic text.

291 ἐπισημασίας.

292 τροπάς.

293 ἀπεμφαῖνον.

294 ἀντιπελαργοῦντος.

295 [See vol. 1. pp. viii., 12, this series. Observe, Origen, in Egypt, doubts the story.]

296 ἀλλ εἰ μὴ πᾶν ἔργον. “Gelenius does not recognise these words, and Guietus regards them as superfluous.” They are omitted in the translation.

297 Our vol. 1. p. 191.

298 Our vol. 2. p. 437.

299 Ed. Philadelphia, 1836.

300 See this treatise, book viii, cap. xlviii.

301 What is of Faith as to Everlasting Punishment? in reply to Dr. Farrar’s Challenge, 1879. By the Rev. E. B. Pusey, D.D., Oxford, 1881.

302 Theodicy, pp. 295-311 (answer to Foster), p. 81 (to Lord Kames), p. 310 (to Tillotson). I must confess that Bledsoe is paulo iniquior when he gives no reference to Tillotson’s language. If the retort is based on the sermon (xxxv. vol. iii. p. 350, ed. folio, 1720) on the “Eternity of Torment,” however, I do not think it just. The latitudinarian primate restricts himself therein to a very guarded statement of that reserved right by which any governor commutes or remits punishment, though he cannot modify a promise of reward. I wish modern apologists for the divine sovereignty had not gone farther.