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The first book of our answer to the treatise of Celsus, entitled A True Discourse, which concluded with the representation of the Jew addressing Jesus, having now extended to a sufficient length, we intend the present part as a reply to the charges brought by him against those who have been converted from Judaism to Christianity. And we call attention, in the first place, to this special question, viz., why Celsus, when he had once resolved upon the introduction of individuals upon the stage of his book, did not represent the Jew as addressing the converts from heathenism rather than those from Judaism, seeing that his discourse, if directed to us, would have appeared more likely to produce an impression. But probably this claimant to universal knowledge does not know what is appropriate in the matter of such representations; and therefore let us proceed to consider what he has to say to the converts from Judaism. He asserts that
they have forsaken the law of their fathers, in consequence of their minds being led captive by Jesus; that they have been most ridiculously deceived, and that they have become deserters to another name and to another mode of life. Here he has not observed that the Jewish converts have not deserted the law of their fathers, inasmuch as they live according to its prescriptions, receiving their very name from the poverty of the law, according to the literal acceptation of the word; for Ebion signifies
poor among the Jews, and those Jews who have received Jesus as Christ are called by the name of Ebionites. Nay, Peter himself seems to have observed for a considerable time the Jewish observances enjoined by the law of Moses, not having yet learned from Jesus to ascend from the law that is regulated according to the letter, to that which is interpreted according to the spirit, — a fact which we learn from the Acts of the Apostles. For on the day after the angel of God appeared to Cornelius, suggesting to him
to send to Joppa, to Simon surnamed Peter, Peter
went up into the upper room to pray about the sixth hour. And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth; wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts, and creeping things of the earth, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spoke unto him again the second time, What God has cleansed, call not common. Now observe how, by this instance, Peter is represented as still observing the Jewish customs respecting clean and unclean animals. And from the narrative that follows, it is manifest that he, as being yet a Jew, and living according to their traditions, and despising those who were beyond the pale of Judaism, stood in need of a vision to lead him to communicate to Cornelius (who was not an Israelite according to the flesh), and to those who were with him, the word of faith. Moreover, in the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul states that Peter, still from fear of the Jews, ceased upon the arrival of James to eat with the Gentiles, and
separated himself from them, fearing them that were of the circumcision; and the rest of the Jews, and Barnabas also, followed the same course. And certainly it was quite consistent that those should not abstain from the observance of Jewish usages who were sent to minister to the circumcision, when they who
seemed to be pillars gave the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas, in order that, while devoting themselves to the circumcision, the latter might preach to the Gentiles. And why do I mention that they who preached to the circumcision withdrew and separated themselves from the heathen, when even Paul himself Jews that he was no apostate from their law. Now, if Celsus had been acquainted with all these circumstances, he would not have represented the Jew holding such language as this to the converts from Judaism:
What induced you, my fellow citizens, to abandon the law of your fathers, and to allow your minds to be led captive by him with whom we have just conversed, and thus be most ridiculously deluded, so as to become deserters from us to another name, and to the practices of another life?
Now, since we are upon the subject of Peter, and of the teachers of Christianity to the circumcision, I do not deem it out of place to quote a certain declaration of Jesus taken from the Gospel according to John, and to give the explanation of the same. For it is there related that Jesus said:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak. And when we inquire what were the
many things referred to in the passage which Jesus had to say to His disciples, but which they were not then able to bear, I have to observe that, probably because the apostles were Jews, and had been trained up according to the letter of the Mosaic law, He was unable to tell them what was the true law, and how the Jewish worship consisted in the pattern and shadow of certain heavenly things, and how future blessings were foreshadowed by the injunctions regarding meats and drinks, and festivals, and new moons, and sabbaths. These were many of the subjects which He had to explain to them; but as He saw that it was a work of exceeding difficulty to root out of the mind opinions that have been almost born with a man, and amid which he has been brought up till he reached the period of maturity, and which have produced in those who have adopted them the belief that they are divine, and that it is an act of impiety to overthrow them; and to demonstrate by the superiority of Christian doctrine, that is, by the truth, in a manner to convince the hearers, that such opinions were but
loss and dung, He postponed such a task to a future season — to that, namely, which followed His passion and resurrection. For the bringing of aid unseasonably to those who were not yet capable of receiving it, might have overturned the idea which they had already formed of Jesus, as the Christ, and the Son of the living God. And see if there is not some well-grounded reason for such a statement as this,
I have many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now; seeing there are many points in the law which require to be explained and cleared up in a spiritual sense, and these the disciples were in a manner unable to bear, having been born and brought up among Jews. I am of opinion, moreover, that since these rites were typical, and the truth was that which was to be taught them by the Holy Spirit, these words were added, truth about those things which, being to you but types, you believed to constitute a true worship which you rendered unto God. And so, according to the promise of Jesus, the Spirit of truth came to Peter, saying to him, with regard to the four-footed beasts, and creeping things of the earth, and fowls of the air:
Arise, Peter; kill, and eat. And the Spirit came to him while he was still in a state of superstitious ignorance; for he said, in answer to the divine command,
Not so Lord; for I have never yet eaten anything common or unclean. He instructed him, however, in the true and spiritual meaning of meats, by saying,
What God has cleansed, call not common. And so, after that vision, the Spirit of truth, which conducted Peter into all the truth, told him the many things which he was unable to bear when Jesus was still with him in the flesh. But I shall have another opportunity of explaining those matters, which are connected with the literal acceptation of the Mosaic law.
Our present object, however, is to expose the ignorance of Celsus, who makes this Jew of his address his fellow-citizen and the Israelitish converts in the following manner:
What induced you to abandon the law of your fathers? etc. Now, how should they have abandoned the law of their fathers, who are in the habit of rebuking those who do not listen to its commands, saying,
Tell me, you who read the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons; and so on, down to the place,
which things are an allegory, etc.? And how have they abandoned the law of their fathers, who are ever speaking of the usages of their fathers in such words as these:
Or does not the law say these things also? For it is written in the law of Moses, You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the grain. Does God care for oxen? Or says He it altogether for our sakes? For for our sakes it was written, and so on? Now, how confused is the reasoning of the Jew in regard to these matters (although he had it in his power to speak with greater effect) when he says:
Certain among you have abandoned the usages of our fathers under a pretence of explanations and allegories; and some of you, although, as you pretend, interpreting them in a spiritual manner, nevertheless do observe the customs of our fathers; and some of you, without any such interpretation, are willing to accept Jesus as the subject of prophecy, and to keep the law of Moses according to the customs of the fathers, as having in the words the whole mind of the Spirit. Now how was Celsus able to see these things so clearly in this place, when in the subsequent parts of his work he makes mention of certain godless heresies altogether alien from the doctrine of Jesus, and even of others which leave the Creator out of account altogether, and does not appear to know that there are Israelites who are converts to Christianity, and who have not abandoned the law of their fathers? It was not his object to investigate everything here in the spirit of truth, and to accept whatever he might find to be useful; but he composed these statements in the spirit of an enemy, and with a desire to overthrow everything as soon as he heard it.
The Jew, then, continues his address to converts from his own nation thus:
Yesterday and the day before, when we visited with punishment the man who deluded you, you became apostates from the law of your fathers; showing by such statements (as we have just demonstrated) anything but an exact knowledge of the truth. But what he advances afterwards seems to have some force, when he says:
How is it that you take the beginning of your system from our worship, and when you have made some progress you treat it with disrespect, although you have no other foundation to show for your doctrines than our law? Now, certainly the introduction to Christianity is through the Mosaic worship and the prophetic writings; and after the introduction, it is in the interpretation and explanation of these that progress takes place, while those who are introduced prosecute their investigations into
the mystery according to revelation, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest in the Scriptures of the prophets, and by the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. But they who advance in the knowledge of Christianity do not, as you allege, treat the things written in the law with disrespect. On the contrary, they bestow upon them greater honour, showing what a depth of wise and mysterious reasons is contained in these writings, which are not fully comprehended by the Jews, who treat them superficially, and as if they were in some degree even fabulous. And what absurdity should there be in our system — that is, the Gospel— having the law for its foundation, when even the Lord Jesus Himself said to those who would not believe upon Him:
If you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My words? Nay, even one of the evangelists— Mark — says:
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who shall prepare Your way before You, which shows that the beginning of the Gospel is connected with the Jewish writings. What force, then, is there in the objection of the Jew of Celsus, that
if any one predicted to us that the Son of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our God? Or how is it a charge against Christianity, that John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew? For although He was a Jew, it does not follow that every believer, whether a convert from heathenism or from Judaism, must yield a literal obedience to the law of Moses.
After these matters, although Celsus becomes tautological in his statements about Jesus, repeating for the second time that
he was punished by the Jews for his crimes, we shall not again take up the defense, being satisfied with what we have already said. But, in the next place, as this Jew of his disparages the doctrine regarding the resurrection of the dead, and the divine judgment, and of the rewards to be bestowed upon the just, and of the fire which is to devour the wicked, as being stale opinions, and thinks that he will overthrow Christianity by asserting that there is nothing new in its teaching upon these points, we have to say to him, that our Lord, seeing the conduct of the Jews not to be at all in keeping with the teaching of the prophets, inculcated by a parable that the kingdom of God would be taken from them, and given to the converts from heathenism. For which reason, now, we may also see of a truth that all the doctrines of the Jews of the present day are mere trifles and fables, since they have not the light that proceeds from the knowledge of the Scriptures; whereas those of the Christians are the truth, having power to raise and elevate the soul and understanding of man, and to persuade him to seek a citizenship, not like the earthly Jews here below, but in heaven. And this result shows itself among those who are able to see the grandeur of the ideas contained in the law and the prophets, and who are able to commend them to others.
But let it be granted that Jesus observed all the Jewish usages, including even their sacrificial observances, what does that avail to prevent our recognising Him as the Son of God? Jesus, then, is the Son of God, who gave the law and the prophets; and we, who belong to the Church, do not transgress the law, but have escaped the mythologizings of the Jews, and have our minds chastened and educated by the mystical contemplation of the law and the prophets. For the prophets themselves, as not resting the sense of these words in the plain history which they relate, nor in the legal enactments taken according to the word and letter, express themselves somewhere, when about to relate histories, in words like this,
I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hard sayings of old; and in another place, when offering up a prayer regarding the law as being obscure, and needing divine help for its comprehension, they offer up this prayer,
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.
Moreover, let them show where there is to be found even the appearance of language dictated by arrogance and proceeding from Jesus. For how could an arrogant man thus express himself,
Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls? or how can He be styled arrogant, who after supper laid aside His garments in the presence of His disciples, and, after girding Himself with a towel, and pouring water into a basin, proceeded to wash the feet of each disciple, and rebuked him who was unwilling to allow them to be washed, with the words,
Except I wash you, you have no part with Me? Or how could He be called such who said,
I was among you, not as he that sits at meat, but as he that serves? And let any one show what were the falsehoods which He uttered, and let him point out what are great and what are small falsehoods, that he may prove Jesus to have been guilty of the former. And there is yet another way in which we may confute him. For as one falsehood is not less or more false than another, so one truth is not less or more true than another. And what charges of impiety he has to bring against Jesus, let the Jew of Celsus especially bring forward. Was it impious to abstain from corporeal circumcision, and from a literal Sabbath, and literal festivals, and literal new moons, and from clean and unclean meats, and to turn the mind to the good and true and spiritual law of God, while at the same time he who was an ambassador for Christ knew how to become to the Jews as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews, and to those who are under the law, as under the law, that he might gain those who are under the law?
He says, further, that persons, nor even a few, but a single individual, such as Jesus was, introducing among the human race, with the power that was manifested in Him, a system of doctrine and opinions beneficial to human life, and which converts men from the practice of wickedness. He says, moreover, that this charge is brought against the Jews by the Christian converts, that they have not believed in Jesus as in God. Now on this point we have, in the preceding pages, offered a preliminary defense, showing at the same time in what respects we understand Him to be God, and in what we take Him to be man.
How should we, he continues,
who have made known to all men that there is to come from God one who is to punish the wicked, treat him with disregard when he came? And to this, as an exceedingly silly argument, it does not seem to me reasonable to offer any answer. It is as if some one were to say,
How could we, who teach temperance, commit any act of licentiousness? Or we, who are ambassadors for righteousness, be guilty of any wickedness? For as these inconsistencies are found among men, so, to say that they believed the prophets when speaking of the future advent of Christ, and yet refused their belief to Him when He came, agreeably to prophetic statement, was quite in keeping with human nature. And since we must add another reason, we shall remark that this very result was foretold by the prophets. Isaiah distinctly declares:
Hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: for the heart of this people has become fat, etc. And let them explain why it was predicted to the Jews, that although they both heard and saw, they would not understand what was said, nor perceive what was seen as they ought. For it is indeed manifest, that when they beheld Jesus they did not see who He was; and when they heard Him, they did not understand from His words the divinity that was in Him, and which transferred God's providential care, hitherto exercised over the Jews, to His converts from the heathen. Therefore we may see, that after the advent of Jesus the Jews were altogether abandoned, and possess now none of what were considered their ancient glories, so that there is no indication of any Divinity abiding among them. For they have no longer prophets nor miracles, traces of which to a considerable extent are still found among Christians, and some of them more remarkable than any that existed among the Jews; and these we ourselves have witnessed, if our testimony may be received. But the Jew of Celsus exclaims:
Why did we treat him, whom we announced beforehand, with dishonour? Was it that we might be chastised more than others? To which we have to answer, that on account of their unbelief, and the other insults which they heaped upon Jesus, the Jews will not only suffer more than others in that judgment which is believed to impend over the world, but have even already endured such sufferings. For what nation is an exile from their own metropolis, and from the place sacred to the worship of their fathers, save the Jews alone? And these calamities they have suffered, because they were a most wicked nation, which, although guilty of many other sins, yet has been punished so severely for none, as for those that were committed against our Jesus.
The Jew continues his discourse thus:
How should we deem him to be a God, who not only in other respects, as was currently reported, performed none of his promises, but who also, after we had convicted him, and condemned him as deserving of punishment, was found attempting to conceal himself, and endeavouring to escape in a most disgraceful manner, and who was betrayed by those whom he called disciples? And yet, he continues,
he who was a God could neither flee nor be led away a prisoner; and least of all could he be deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, and had shared all things in common, and had had him for their teacher, who was deemed to be a Saviour, and a son of the greatest God, and an angel. To which we reply, that even we do not suppose the body of Jesus, which was then an object of sight and perception, to have been God. And why do I say His body? Nay, not even His soul, of which it is related,
My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. But as, according to the Jewish manner of speaking,
I am the Lord, the God of all flesh, and,
Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me, God is believed to be He who employs the soul and body of the prophet as an instrument; and as, according to the Greeks, he who says,
I know both the number of the sand, and the measures of the sea,
And I understand a dumb man, and hear him who does not speak,
is considered to be a god when speaking, and making himself heard through the Pythian priestess; so, according to our view, it was the Logos God, and Son of the God of all things, who spoke in Jesus these words,
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; and these,
I am the door; and these,
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; and other expressions similar to these. We therefore charge the Jews with not acknowledging Him to be God, to whom testimony was borne in many passages by the prophets, to the effect that He was a mighty power, and a God next to the God and Father of all things. For we assert that it was to Him the Father gave the command, when in the Mosaic account of the creation He uttered the words,
Let there be light, and
Let there be a firmament, and gave the injunctions with regard to those other creative acts which were performed; and that to Him also were addressed the words,
Let Us make man in Our own image and likeness; and that the Logos, when commanded, obeyed all the Father's will. And we make these statements not from our own conjectures, but because we believe the prophecies circulated among the Jews, in which it is said of God, and of the works of creation, in express words, as follows:
He spoke, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created. Now if God gave the command, and the creatures were formed, who, according to the view of the spirit of prophecy, could He be that was able to carry out such commands of the Father, save Him who, so to speak, is the living Logos and the Truth? And that the Gospels do not consider him who in Jesus said these words,
I am the way, and the truth, and the life, to have been of so circumscribed a nature as to have an existence nowhere out of the soul and body of Jesus, is evident both from many considerations, and from a few instances of the following kind which we shall quote. John the Baptist, when predicting that the Son of God was to appear immediately, not in that body and soul, but as manifesting Himself everywhere, says regarding Him:
There stands in the midst of you One whom you know not, who comes after me. For if he had thought that the Son of God was only there, where was the visible body of Jesus, how could he have said,
There stands in the midst of you One whom you know not? And Jesus Himself, in raising the minds of His disciples to higher thoughts of the Son of God, says:
Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of you. And of the same nature is His promise to His disciples:
Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. And we quote these passages, making no distinction between the Son of God and Jesus. For the soul and body of Jesus formed, after the οἰκονομία, one being with the Logos of God. Now if, according to Paul's teaching,
he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit, every one who understands what being joined to the Lord is, and who has been actually joined to Him, is one spirit with the Lord; how should not that being be one in a far greater and more divine degree, which was once united with the Logos of God? He, indeed, manifested Himself among the Jews as the power of God, by the miracles which He performed, which Celsus suspected were accomplished by sorcery, but which by the Jews of that time were attributed I know not why, to Beelzebub, in the words:
He casts out devils through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. But these our Saviour convicted of uttering the greatest absurdities, from the fact that the kingdom of evil was not yet come to an end. And this will be evident to all intelligent readers of the Gospel narrative, which it is not now the time to explain.
But what promise did Jesus make which He did not perform? Let Celsus produce any instance of such, and make good his charge. But he will be unable to do so, especially since it is from mistakes, arising either from misapprehension of the Gospel narratives, or from Jewish stories, that he thinks to derive the charges which he brings against Jesus or against ourselves. Moreover, again, when the Jew says,
We both found him guilty, and condemned him as deserving of death, let them show how they who sought to concoct false witness against Him proved Him to be guilty. Was not the great charge against Jesus, which His accusers brought forward, this, that He said,
I am able to destroy the temple of God, and after three days to raise it up again? But in so saying, He spoke of the temple of His body; while they thought, not being able to understand the meaning of the speaker, that His reference was to the temple of stone, which was treated by the Jews with greater respect than He was who ought to have been honoured as the true Temple of God — the Word, and the Wisdom, and the Truth. And who can say that
Jesus attempted to make His escape by disgracefully concealing Himself? Let any one point to an act deserving to be called disgraceful. And when he adds,
he was taken prisoner, I would say that, if to be taken prisoner implies an act done against one's will, then Jesus was not taken prisoner; for at the fitting time He did not prevent Himself falling into the hands of men, as the Lamb of God, that He might take away the sin of the world. For, knowing all things that were to come upon Him, He went forth, and said to them,
Whom do you seek? and they answered,
I am He. And Judas also, who betrayed Him, was standing with them. When, therefore, He had said to them,
I am He, they went backwards and fell to the ground. Again He asked them,
Whom do you seek? and they said again,
I told you I am He; if then you seek Me, let these go away. Nay, even to Him who wished to help Him, and who smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his ear, He said:
Put up your sword into its sheath: for all they who draw the sword shall perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot even now pray to My Father, and He will presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? And if any one imagines these statements to be inventions of the writers of the Gospels, why should not those statements rather be regarded as inventions which proceeded from a spirit of hatred and hostility against Jesus and the Christians? And these the truth, which proceed from those who manifest the sincerity of their feelings towards Jesus, by enduring everything, whatever it may be, for the sake of His words? For the reception by the disciples of such power of endurance and resolution continued even to death, with a disposition of mind that would not invent regarding their Teacher what was not true, is a very evident proof to all candid judges that they were fully persuaded of the truth of what they wrote, seeing they submitted to trials so numerous and so severe, for the sake of Him whom they believed to be the Son of God.
In the next place, that He was betrayed by those whom He called His disciples, is a circumstance which the Jew of Celsus learned from the Gospels; calling the one Judas, however,
many disciples, that he might seem to add force to the accusation. Nor did he trouble himself to take note of all that is related concerning Judas; how this Judas, having come to entertain opposite and conflicting opinions regarding his Master neither opposed Him with his whole soul, nor yet with his whole soul preserved the respect due by a pupil to his teacher. For he that betrayed Him gave to the multitude that came to apprehend Jesus, a sign, saying,
Whomsoever I shall kiss, it is he; seize him,— retaining still some element of respect for his Master: for unless he had done so, he would have betrayed Him, even publicly, without any pretence of affection. This circumstance, therefore, will satisfy all with regard to the purpose of Judas, that along with his covetous disposition, and his wicked design to betray his Master, he had still a feeling of a mixed character in his mind, produced in him by the words of Jesus, which had the appearance (so to speak) of some remnant of good. For it is related that,
when Judas, who betrayed Him, knew that He was condemned, he repented, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the high priest and elders, saying, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. But they said, What is that to us? You see to that; — and that, having thrown the money down in the temple, he departed, and went and hanged himself. But if this covetous Judas, who also stole the money placed in the bag for the relief of the poor, repented, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, it is clear that the instructions of Jesus had been able to produce some feeling of repentance in his mind, and were not altogether despised and loathed by this traitor. Nay, the declaration,
I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood, was a public acknowledgment of his crime. Observe, also, how exceedingly passionate was the sorrow for his sins that proceeded from that repentance, and which would not allow him any longer to live; and how, after he had cast the money down in the temple, he withdrew, and went away and hanged himself: for he passed sentence upon himself, showing what a power the teaching of Jesus had over this sinner Judas, this thief and traitor, who could not always treat with contempt what he had learned from Jesus. Will Celsus and his friends now say that those proofs which show that the apostasy of Judas was not a complete apostasy, even after his attempts against his Master, are inventions, and that this alone is true, viz., that one of His disciples betrayed Him; and will they add to the Scriptural account that he betrayed Him also with his whole heart? To act in this spirit of hostility with the same writings, both as to what we are to believe and what we are not to believe, is absurd. And if we must make a statement regarding Judas which may overwhelm our opponents with shame, we would say that, in the book of Psalms, the whole of the 108th contains a prophecy about Judas, the beginning of which is this:
O God, hold not Your peace before my praise; for the mouth of the sinner, and the mouth of the crafty man, are opened against me. And it is predicted in this psalm, both that Judas separated himself from the number of the apostles on account of his sins, and that another was selected in his place; and this is shown by the words:
And his bishopric let another take. But suppose now that He had been betrayed by some one of His disciples, who was possessed by a worse spirit than Judas, and who had completely poured out, as it were, all the words which he had heard from Jesus, what would this contribute to an accusation against Jesus or the Christian religion? And how will this demonstrate its doctrine to be false? We have replied in the preceding chapter to the statements which follow this, showing that Jesus was not taken prisoner when attempting to flee, but that He gave Himself up voluntarily for the sake of us all. Whence it follows, that even if He were bound, He was bound agreeably to His own will; thus teaching us the lesson that we should undertake similar things for the sake of religion in no spirit of unwillingness.
And the following appear to me to be childish assertions, viz., that
no good general and leader of great multitudes was ever betrayed; nor even a wicked captain of robbers and commander of very wicked men, who seemed to be of any use to his associates; but Jesus, having been betrayed by his subordinates, neither governed like a good general, nor, after deceiving his disciples, produced in the minds of the victims of his deceit that feeling of good-will which, so to speak, would be manifested towards a brigand chief. Now one might find many accounts of generals who were betrayed by their own soldiers, and of robber chiefs who were captured through the instrumentality of those who did not keep their bargains with them. But grant that no general or robber chief was ever betrayed, what does that contribute to the establishment of the fact as a charge against Jesus, that one of His disciples became His betrayer? And since Celsus makes an ostentatious exhibition of philosophy, I would ask of him, If, then, it was a charge against Plato, that Aristotle, after being his pupil for twenty years, went away and assailed his doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and styled the ideas of Plato the merest trifling? And if I were still in doubt, I would continue thus: Was Plato no longer mighty in dialectics, nor able to defend his views, after Aristotle had taken his departure; and, on that account, are the opinions of Plato false? Or may it not be, that while Plato is true, as the pupils of his philosophy would maintain, Aristotle was guilty of wickedness and ingratitude towards his teacher? Nay, Chrysippus also, in many places of his writings, appears to assail Cleanthes, introducing novel opinions opposed to his views, although the latter had been his teacher when he was a young man, and began the study of philosophy. Aristotle, indeed, is said to have been Plato's pupil for twenty years, and no inconsiderable period was spent by Chrysippus in the school of Cleanthes; while Judas did not remain so much as three years with Jesus. But from the narratives of the lives of philosophers we might take many instances similar to those on which Celsus founds a charge against Jesus on account of Judas. Even the Pythagoreans erected cenotaphs to those who, after betaking themselves to philosophy, fell back again into their ignorant mode of life; and yet neither was Pythagoras nor his followers, on that account, weak in argument and demonstration.
This Jew of Celsus continues, after the above, in the following fashion:
Although he could state many things regarding the events of the life of Jesus which are true, and not like those which are recorded by the disciples, he willingly omits them. What, then, are those true statements, unlike the accounts in the Gospels, which the Jew of Celsus passes by without mention? Or is he only employing what appears to be a figure of speech, in pretending to have something to say, while in reality he had nothing to produce beyond the Gospel narrative which could impress the hearer with a feeling of its truth, and furnish a clear ground of accusation against Jesus and His doctrine? And he charges the disciples with having invented the statement that Jesus foreknew and foretold all that happened to Him; but the truth of this statement we shall establish, although Celsus may not like it, by means of many other predictions uttered by the Saviour, in which He foretold what would befall the Christians in after generations. And who is there who would not be astonished at this prediction:
You shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles; and at any others which He may have delivered respecting the future persecution of His disciples? For what system of opinions ever existed among men on account of which others are punished, so that any one of the accusers of Jesus could say that, foreseeing the impiety or falsity of his opinions to be the ground of an accusation against them he thought that this would redound to his credit, that he had so predicted regarding it long before? Now if any deserve to be brought, on account of their opinions, before governors and kings, what others are they, save the Epicureans, who altogether deny the existence of providence? And also the Peripatetics, who say that prayers are of no avail, and sacrifices offered as to the Divinity? But some one will say that the Samaritans suffer persecution because of their religion. In answer to whom we shall state that the Sicarians, on account of the practice of circumcision, as mutilating themselves contrary to the established laws and the customs permitted to the Jews alone, are put to death. And you never hear a judge inquiring whether a Sicarian who strives to live according to this established religion of his will be released from punishment if he apostatizes, but will be led away to death if he continues firm; for the evidence of the circumcision is sufficient to ensure the death of him who has undergone it. But Christians alone, according to the prediction of their Saviour,
You shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, are urged up to their last breath by their judges to deny Christianity, and to sacrifice according to the public customs; and after the oath of abjuration, to return to their homes, and to live in safety. And observe whether it is not with great authority that this declaration is uttered:
Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father who is in heaven. And whosoever shall deny Me before men, etc. And go back with me in thought to Jesus when He uttered these words, and see His predictions not yet accomplished. Perhaps you will say, in a spirit of incredulity, that he is talking folly, and speaking to no purpose, for his words will have no fulfilment; or, being in doubt about assenting to his words, you will say, that if these predictions be fulfilled, and the doctrine of Jesus be established, so that governors and kings think of destroying those who acknowledge Jesus, then we shall believe that he utters these prophecies as one who has received great power from God to implant this doctrine among the human race, and as believing that it will prevail. And who will not be filled with wonder, when he goes back in thought to Him who then taught and said,
This Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles, and beholds, agreeably to His words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached in the whole world under heaven to Greeks and Barbarians, wise and foolish alike? For the word, spoken with power, has gained the mastery over men of all sorts of nature, and it is impossible to see any race of men which has escaped accepting the teaching of Jesus. But let this Jew of Celsus, who does not believe that He foreknew all that happened to Him, consider how, while Jerusalem was still standing, and the whole Jewish worship celebrated in it, Jesus foretold what would befall it from the hand of the Romans. For they will not maintain that the acquaintances and pupils of Jesus Himself handed down His teaching contained in the Gospels without committing it to writing, and left His disciples without the memoirs of Jesus contained in their works. Now in these it is recorded, that
when you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then shall you know that the desolation thereof is near. But at that time there were no armies around Jerusalem, encompassing and enclosing and besieging it; for the siege began in the reign of Nero, and lasted till the government of Vespasian, whose son Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, as Josephus says, of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, but in reality, as the truth makes clear, on account of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Celsus, however, accepting or granting that Jesus foreknew what would befall Him, might think to make light of the admission, as he did in the case of the miracles, when he alleged that they were wrought by means of sorcery; for he might say that many persons by means of divination, either by auspices, or auguries, or sacrifices, or nativities, have come to the knowledge of what was to happen. But this concession he would not make, as being too great a one; and although he somehow granted that Jesus worked miracles, he thought to weaken the force of this by the charge of sorcery. Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events (although falling into confusion about some things which refer to Peter, as if they referred to Jesus), but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions. So that he also, by these very admissions regarding foreknowledge, as if against his will, expressed his opinion that the doctrines taught by the fathers of our system were not devoid of divine power.
The disciples of Jesus, having no undoubted fact on which to rely, devised the fiction that he foreknew everything before it happened; not observing, or not wishing to observe, the love of truth which actuated the writers, who acknowledged that Jesus had told His disciples beforehand,
All you shall be offended because of Me this night,— a statement which was fulfilled by their all being offended; and that He predicted to Peter,
Before the cock crow, you shall deny Me thrice, which was followed by Peter's threefold denial. Now if they had not been lovers of truth, but, as Celsus supposes, inventors of fictions, they would not have represented Peter as denying, nor His disciples as being offended. For although these events actually happened, who could have proved that they turned out in that manner? And yet, according to all probability, these were matters which ought to have been passed over in silence by men who wished to teach the readers of the Gospels to despise death for the sake of confessing Christianity. But now, seeing that the word, by its power, will gain the mastery over men, they related those facts which they have done, and which, I know not how, were neither to do any harm to their readers, nor to afford any pretext for denial.
Exceedingly weak is his assertion, that
the disciples of Jesus wrote such accounts regarding him, by way of extenuating the charges that told against him: as if, he says,
any one were to say that a certain person was a just man, and yet were to show that he was guilty of injustice; or that he was pious, and yet had committed murder; or that he was immortal, and yet was dead; subjoining to all these statements the remark that he had foretold all these things. Now his illustrations are at once seen to be inappropriate; for there is no absurdity in Him who had resolved that He would become a living pattern to men, as to the manner in which they were to regulate their lives, showing also how they ought to die for the sake of their religion, apart altogether from the fact that His death on behalf of men was a benefit to the whole world, as we proved in the preceding book. He imagines, moreover, that the whole of the confession of the Saviour's sufferings confirms his objection instead of weakening it. For he is not acquainted either with the philosophical remarks of Paul, or the statements of the prophets, on this subject. And it escaped him that certain heretics have declared that Jesus underwent His sufferings in appearance, not in reality. For had he known, he would not have said:
For you do not even allege this, that he seemed to wicked men to suffer this punishment, though not undergoing it in reality; but, on the contrary, you acknowledge that he openly suffered. But we do not view His sufferings as having been merely in appearance, in order that His resurrection also may not be a false, but a real event. For he who really died, actually arose, if he did arise; whereas he who appeared only to have died, did not in reality arise. But since the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a subject of mockery to unbelievers, we shall quote the words of Plato, that Erus the son of Armenius rose from the funeral pile twelve days after he had been laid upon it, and gave an account of what he had seen in Hades; and as we are replying to unbelievers, it will not be altogether useless to refer in this place to what Heraclides relates respecting the woman who was deprived of life. And many persons are recorded to have risen from their tombs, not only on the day of their burial, but also on the day following. What wonder is it, then, if in the case of One who performed many marvellous things, both beyond the power of man and with such fullness of evidence, that he who could not deny their performance, endeavoured to calumniate them by comparing them to acts of sorcery, should have manifested also in His death some greater display of divine power, so that His soul, if it pleased, might leave its body, and having performed certain offices out of it, might return again at pleasure? And such a declaration is Jesus said to have made in the Gospel of John, when He said:
No man takes 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. And perhaps it was on this account that He hastened His departure from the body, that He might preserve it, and that His legs might not be broken, as were those of the robbers who were crucified with Him.
For the soldiers broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him; but when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead, they broke not His legs. We have accordingly answered the question,
How is it credible that Jesus could have predicted these things? And with respect to this,
How could the dead man be immortal? let him who wishes to understand know, that it is not the dead man who is immortal, but He who rose from the dead. So far, indeed, was the dead man from being immortal, that even the Jesus before His decease — the compound being, who was to suffer death — was not immortal. For no one is immortal who is destined to die; but he is immortal when he shall no longer be subject to death. But
Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more: death has no more dominion over Him; although those may be unwilling to admit this who cannot understand how such things should be said.
Extremely foolish also is his remark,
What god, or spirit, or prudent man would not, on foreseeing that such events were to befall him, avoid them if he could; whereas he threw himself headlong into those things which he knew beforehand were to happen? And yet Socrates knew that he would die after drinking the hemlock, and it was in his power, if he had allowed himself to be persuaded by Crito, by escaping from prison, to avoid these calamities; but nevertheless he decided, as it appeared to him consistent with right reason, that it was better for him to die as became a philosopher, than to retain his life in a manner unbecoming one. Leonidas also, the Lacedæmonian general, knowing that he was on the point of dying with his followers at Thermopylæ, did not make any effort to preserve his life by disgraceful means but said to his companions,
Let us go to breakfast, as we shall sup in Hades. And those who are interested in collecting stories of this kind will find numbers of them. Now, where is the wonder if Jesus, knowing all things that were to happen, did not avoid them, but encountered what He foreknew; when Paul, His own disciple, having heard what would befall him when he went up to Jerusalem, proceeded to face the danger, reproaching those who were weeping around him, and endeavouring to prevent him from going up to Jerusalem? Many also of our contemporaries, knowing well that if they made a confession of Christianity they would be put to death, but that if they denied it they would be liberated, and their property restored, despised life, and voluntarily selected death for the sake of their religion.
After this the Jew makes another silly remark, saying,
How is it that, if Jesus pointed out beforehand both the traitor and the perjurer, they did not fear him as a God, and cease, the one from his intended treason, and the other from his perjury? Here the learned Celsus did not see the contradiction in his statement: for if Jesus foreknew events as a God, then it was impossible for His foreknowledge to prove untrue; and therefore it was impossible for him who was known to Him as going to betray Him not to execute his purpose, nor for him who was rebuked as going to deny Him not to have been guilty of that crime. For if it had been possible for the one to abstain from the act of betrayal, and the other from that of denial, as having been warned of the consequences of these actions beforehand, then His words were no longer true, who predicted that the one would betray Him and the other deny Him. For if He had foreknowledge of the traitor, He knew the wickedness in which the treason originated, and this wickedness was by no means taken away by the foreknowledge. And, again, if He had ascertained that one would deny Him, He made that prediction from seeing the weakness out of which that act of denial would arise, and yet this weakness was not to be taken away thus at once by the foreknowledge. But whence he derived the statement,
that these persons betrayed and denied him without manifesting any concern about him, I know not; for it was proved, with respect to the traitor, that it is false to say that he betrayed his master without an exhibition of anxiety regarding Him. And this was shown to be equally true of him who denied Him; for he went out, after the denial, and wept bitterly.
Superficial also is his objection, that
it is always the case when a man against whom a plot is formed, and who comes to the knowledge of it, makes known to the conspirators that he is acquainted with their design, that the latter are turned from their purpose, and keep upon their guard. For many have continued to plot even against those who were acquainted with their plans. And then, as if bringing his argument to a conclusion, he says:
Not because these things were predicted did they come to pass, for that is impossible; but since they have come to pass, their being predicted is shown to be a falsehood: for it is altogether impossible that those who heard beforehand of the discovery of their designs, should carry out their plans of betrayal and denial! But if his premises are overthrown, then his conclusion also falls to the ground, viz.,
that we are not to believe, because these things were predicted, that they have come to pass. Now we maintain that they not only came to pass as being possible, but also that, because they came to pass, the fact of their being predicted is shown to be true; for the truth regarding future events is judged of by results. It is false, therefore, as asserted by him, that the prediction of these events is proved to be untrue; and it is to no purpose that he says,
It is altogether impossible for those who heard beforehand that their designs were discovered, to carry out their plans of betrayal and denial.
Let us see how he continues after this:
These events, he says,
he predicted as being a God, and the prediction must by all means come to pass. God, therefore, who above all others ought to do good to men, and especially to those of his own household, led on his own disciples and prophets, with whom he was in the habit of eating and drinking, to such a degree of wickedness, that they became impious and unholy men. Now, of a truth, he who shared a man's table would not be guilty of conspiring against him; but after banqueting with God, he became a conspirator. And, what is still more absurd, God himself plotted against the members of his own table, by converting them into traitors and villains! Now, since you wish me to answer even those charges of Celsus which seem to me frivolous, the following is our reply to such statements. Celsus imagines that an event, predicted through foreknowledge, comes to pass because it was predicted; but we do not grant this, maintaining that he who foretold it was not the cause of its happening, because he foretold it would happen; but the future event itself, which would have taken place though not predicted, afforded the occasion to him, who was endowed with foreknowledge, of foretelling its occurrence. Now, certainly this result is present to the foreknowledge of him who predicts an event, when it is possible that it may or may not happen, viz., that one or other of these things will take place. For we do not assert that he who foreknows an event, by secretly taking away the possibility of its happening or not, makes any such declaration as this:
This shall infallibly happen, and it is impossible that it can be otherwise. And this remark applies to all the foreknowledge of events dependent upon ourselves, whether contained in the sacred Scriptures or in the histories of the Greeks. Now, what is called by logicians an
idle argument, which is a sophism, will be no sophism as far as Celsus can help, but according to sound reasoning it is a sophism. And that this may be seen, I shall take from the Scriptures the predictions regarding Judas, or the foreknowledge of our Saviour regarding him as the traitor; and from the Greek histories the oracle that was given to Laius, conceding for the present its truth, since it does not affect the argument. Now, in Ps. cviii., Judas is spoken of by the mouth of the Saviour, in words beginning thus:
Hold not Your peace, O God of my praise; for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me. Now, if you carefully observe the contents of the psalm, you will find that, as it was foreknown that he would betray the Saviour, so also was he considered to be himself the cause of the betrayal, and deserving, on account of his wickedness, of the imprecations contained in the prophecy. For let him suffer these things,
because, says the psalmist,
he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man. Wherefore it was possible for him to show mercy, and not to persecute him whom he did persecute. But although he might have done these things, he did not do them, but carried out the act of treason, so as to merit the curses pronounced against him in the prophecy.
And in answer to the Greeks we shall quote the following oracular response to Laius, as recorded by the tragic poet, either in the exact words of the oracle or in equivalent terms. Future events are thus made known to him by the oracle:
Do not try to beget children against the will of the gods. For if you beget a son, your son shall murder you; and all your household shall wade in blood. Now from this it is clear that it was within the power of Laius not to try to beget children, for the oracle would not have commanded an impossibility; and it was also in his power to do the opposite, so that neither of these courses was compulsory. And the consequence of his not guarding against the begetting of children was, that he suffered from so doing the calamities described in the tragedies relating to Œdipus and Jocasta and their sons. Now that which is called the
idle argument, being a quibble, is such as might be applied, say in the case of a sick man, with the view of sophistically preventing him from employing a physician to promote his recovery; and it is something like this:
If it is decreed that you should recover from your disease, you will recover whether you call in a physician or not; but if it is decreed that you should not recover, you will not recover whether you call in a physician or no. But it is certainly decreed either that you should recover, or that you should not recover; and therefore it is in vain that you call in a physician. Now with this argument the following may be wittily compared:
If it is decreed that you should beget children, you will beget them, whether you have intercourse with a woman or not. But if it is decreed that you should not beget children, you will not do so, whether you have intercourse with a woman or no. Now, certainly, it is decreed either that you should beget children or not; therefore it is in vain that you have intercourse with a woman. For, as in the latter instance, intercourse with a woman is not employed in vain, seeing it is an utter impossibility for him who does not use it to beget children; so, in the former, if recovery from disease is to be accomplished by means of the healing art, of necessity the physician is summoned, and it is therefore false to say that
in vain do you call in a physician. We have brought forward all these illustrations on account of the assertion of this learned Celsus, that
being a God He predicted these things, and the predictions must by all means come to pass. Now, if by
by all means he means
necessarily, we cannot admit this. For it was quite possible, also, that they might not come to pass. But if he uses
by all means in the sense of
simple futurity, which nothing hinders from being true (although it was possible that they might not happen), he does not at all touch my argument; nor did it follow, from Jesus having predicted the acts of the traitor or the perjurer, that it was the same thing with His being the cause of such impious and unholy proceedings. For He who was among us, and knew what was in man, seeing his evil disposition, and foreseeing what he would attempt from his spirit of covetousness, and from his want of stable ideas of duty towards his Master, along with many other declarations, gave utterance to this also:
He that dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me.
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, 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, when upbraiding Lycambes with having violated covenants confirmed by the salt of the table, says to him:—
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, can quote numerous instances, showing that they who shared in the hospitality of others entered into conspiracies against them.
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.
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.
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?' 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 You will. 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, Your 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, 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 makes sore, and again binds up; but only this part,
He makes 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 over by those whom Paul calls
perfect when he said,
We speak wisdom among them who are perfect, we pass by for the present, and shall speak for a little of those matters which are useful for our present purpose.
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 you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth which I have heard of the Father. 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 You will. 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 You will; and,
O My Father, if this cup cannot pass from Me except I drink it, Your 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 You, I pray, if it be possible, that this cup may pass from Me, in order that Your portion, which was guilty of such crimes against Me, may not be altogether deserted by You. 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?
This Jew of Celsus still accuses the disciples of Jesus of having invented these statements, saying to them:
Even although guilty of falsehood, you have not been able to give a color 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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 Jesus a milder spirit had been everywhere introduced into the conduct of things?
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, — 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 our assent to the same.
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 carpenters 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 two from top to bottom, and that darkness prevailed in the day-time, the sun failing to give light? 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, 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. And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Cæsar, 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.
This Jew of Celsus, ridiculing Jesus, as he imagines, is described as being acquainted with the Bacchæ of Euripides, in which Dionysus says:—
The divinity himself will liberate me whenever I wish.
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. And yet he does not know that it was not so much Pilate that condemned Him (who knew that 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 nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him? 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.
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.
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?' 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 thereout blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true, and he knows that he says the truth. 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.
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 mouth 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. 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, 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, adducing such refutation as a defense 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 actions before He had instructed them, and pointed out to them their duty, nor to chastise the wicked and save the good, but to disseminate His doctrine in an extraordinary 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.
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 persuasive 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, their belief more firmly established than before that He was the Son of God.
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 ineradicable 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.
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, 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.
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 labour 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.
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.
Celsus in the next place says, with indescribable silliness:
If, after inventing defences which are absurd, and by which you were ridiculously deluded, you imagine that you really make a good defense, 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). 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 comparison 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.
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 you 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 you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, etc., to which the Scripture adds,
This spoke 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, 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.
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, he 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?
He represents, moreover, a statement of his own as if it were an answer to one of his questions, in which he 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, because 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. 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 sleeps, 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. 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.
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 apparent 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 comes out of the east, and shines even to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be. And in another passage:
Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Your name, and by Your name have cast out demons, and done many wonderful works? And then will I say unto them, Depart from Me, because you are workers of iniquity. 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 you 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 mission 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 opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. And again he says to the Thessalonians:
And now you know what withholds that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now lets 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. 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. 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. 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 offenses, could proceed from a system of deceit?
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 question 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-pigeon the same as a dove, 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 in the true God? But if we must once investigate (without being carried 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.
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, need to work such miracles as, on account of their greater grandeur and divinity (in comparison with those of Moses), were able to convert men from Jewish fables, and from the human traditions which prevailed among them, and make them admit that He who taught and did such things was greater than the prophets? For how was not He greater than the prophets, who was proclaimed by them to be the Christ, and the Saviour of the human race?
All the arguments, indeed, which this Jew of Celsus advances against those who believe in 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, — 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 you 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 gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass whereof he spoke unto you, saying, Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us serve them; you shall not hearken to the words of that prophet, or dreamer of dreams,' etc. Again, perverting the words of Jesus, he says,
And he terms him who devises such things, one Satan; while one, applying this to Moses, might say,
And he terms him who devises such things, a prophet who dreams. And as this Jew asserts regarding Jesus, that
even he himself does not deny that these works have in them nothing of divinity, but are the acts of wicked men; so any one who disbelieves the writings of Moses might say, quoting what has been already said, the same thing, viz., that,
even Moses does not deny that these works have in them nothing of divinity, but are the acts of wicked men. And he will do the same thing also with respect to this:
Being compelled by the force of truth, Moses at the same time both exposed the doings of others, and convicted himself of the same. And when the Jew says,
Is it not a wretched inference from the same acts, to conclude that the one is a God, and the others sorcerers? one might object to him, on the ground of those words of Moses already quoted,
Is it not then a wretched inference from the same acts, to conclude that the one is a prophet and servant of God, and the others sorcerers? But when, in addition to those comparisons which I have already mentioned, Celsus, dwelling upon the subject, adduces this also:
Why from these works should the others be accounted wicked, rather than this man, seeing they have him as a witness against himself?— we, too, shall adduce the following, in addition to what has been already said:
Why, from those passages in which Moses forbids us to believe those who exhibit signs and wonders, ought we to consider such persons as wicked, rather than Moses, because he calumniates some of them in respect of their signs and wonders? And urging more to the same effect, that he may appear to strengthen his attempt, he says:
He himself acknowledged that these were not the works of a divine nature, but were the inventions of certain deceivers, and of very wicked men. Who, then, is
himself? You O Jew, say that it is Jesus; but he who accuses you as liable to the same charges, will transfer this
himself to the person of Moses.
After this, forsooth, the Jew of Celsus, to keep up the character assigned to the Jew from the beginning, in his address to those of his countrymen who had become believers, says:
By what, then, were you induced (to become his followers)? Was it because he foretold that after his death he would rise again? Now this question, like the others, can be retorted upon Moses. For we might say to the Jew:
By what, then, were you induced (to become the follower of Moses)? Was it because he put on record the following statement about his own death: 'And Moses, the servant of the Lord died there, in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord; and they buried him in Moab, near the house of Phogor: and no one knows his sepulchre until this day?' 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 knows his sepulchre until this day, in order to magnify and enhance the importance of his place of burial, as being unknown to mankind.
The Jew continues his address to those of his countrymen who are converts, as follows:
Come now, let us grant to you that the prediction was actually uttered. Yet how many others are there who practise such juggling tricks, in order to deceive their simple hearers, and who make gain by their deception?— as was the case, they say, with Zamolxis in Scythia, the slave of Pythagoras; and with Pythagoras himself in Italy; and with Rhampsinitus 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 Orpheus among the Odrysians, and Protesilaus in Thessaly, and Hercules at Cape Tænarus, and Theseus. But the question is, whether any one who was really dead ever rose with a veritable body. 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-frantic 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, or under the influence of a wandering imagination had formed to himself an appearance according to his own wishes, 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 defense 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 near. 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 defense, you will unconsciously, in your support of Moses, be an unwilling assistant in establishing the greater divinity of Jesus.
But since the Jew says that these histories of the alleged descent of heroes to Hades, and of their return thence, are juggling impositions, 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 Tænarian 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 deception 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 defense of the public crucifixion of Jesus, especially in connection with the existence of those stories of heroes who are supposed to have been compelled 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 trick of the resurrection from the dead. But a clear and unmistakeable proof of the fact I hold to be the undertaking of His disciples, who devoted themselves to the teaching of a doctrine which was attended with danger to human life — a doctrine which they would not have taught with such courage had they invented the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; and who also, at the same time, not only prepared others to despise death, but were themselves the first to manifest their disregard for its terrors.
But observe whether this Jew of Celsus does not talk very blindly, in saying that it is impossible for any one to rise from the dead with a veritable body, his language being:
But this is the question, whether any one who was really dead ever rose again with a veritable body? Now a Jew would not have uttered these words, who believed what is recorded in the third and fourth books of Kings regarding little children, of whom the one was raised up by Elijah, and the other by Elisha. And on this account, too, I think it was that Jesus appeared to no other nation than the Jews, who had become accustomed to miraculous occurrences; so that, by comparing what they themselves believed with the works which were done by Him, and with what was related of Him, they might confess that He, in regard to whom greater things were done, and by whom mightier marvels were performed, was greater than all those who preceded Him.
Further, after these Greek stories which the Jew adduced respecting those who were guilty of juggling practices, 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 resulted from the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus, accepted as an article of belief, and as effected through the agency of divine power?
He imagines also that both the earthquake and the darkness were an invention; but regarding these, we have in the preceding pages, made our defense, according to our ability, adducing the testimony of Phlegon, who relates that these events took place at the time when our Saviour suffered. 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; and the Gospel testifies that He opened not His mouth. But if Celsus applies the expression to things indifferent and corporeal, (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 you state. And because she is not the only one who is recorded to have seen the Saviour after His resurrection, but others also are mentioned, this Jew of Celsus calumniates these statements also in adding,
And some one else of those engaged in the same system of deception!
In the next place, as if this were possible, viz., that the image of a man who was dead could appear to another as if he were still living, he adopts this opinion as an Epicurean, and says,
That some one having so dreamed owing to a peculiar state of mind, or having, under the influence of a perverted imagination, formed such an appearance as he himself desired, reported that such had been seen; and this, he continues,
has been the case with numberless individuals. But even if this statement of his seems to have a considerable degree of force, it is nevertheless only fitted to confirm a necessary doctrine, that the soul of the dead exists in a separate state (from the body); and he who adopts such an opinion does not believe without good reason in the immortality, or at least continued existence, of the soul, as even Plato says in his treatise on the Soul that shadowy phantoms of persons already dead have appeared to some around their sepulchres. Now the phantoms which exist about the soul of the dead are produced by some substance, and this substance is in the soul, which exists apart in a body said to be of splendid appearance. But Celsus, unwilling to admit any such view, will have it that some dreamed a waking dream, and, under the influence of a perverted imagination, formed to themselves such an image as they desired. Now it is not irrational to believe that a dream may take place while one is asleep; but to suppose a waking vision in the case of those who are not altogether out of their senses, and under the influence of delirium or hypochondria, is incredible. And Celsus, seeing this, called the woman
half-mad,— a statement which is not made by the history recording the fact, but from which he took occasion to charge the occurrences with being untrue.
Jesus accordingly, as Celsus imagines, exhibited after His death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in reality so wounded as He is described to have been; whereas, according to the teaching of the Gospel— some portions of which Celsus arbitrarily accepts, in order to find ground of accusation, and other parts of which he rejects — Jesus called to Him one of His disciples who was sceptical, and who deemed the miracle an impossibility. That individual had, indeed, expressed his belief in the statement of the woman who said that she had seen Him, because he did not think it impossible that the soul of a dead man could be seen; but he did not yet consider the report to be true that He had been raised in a body, which was the antitype of the former. 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 soul 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 person (as when alive).
Jesus accordingly, having called Thomas, said,
Reach hither your finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither your hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.
Now it followed from all the predictions which were uttered regarding Him — among 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 You will not leave my soul in Hades, and will not suffer Your Holy One to see corruption. 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 says He to Thomas, Reach hither your finger, 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 to them, What manner of communications are these that you have one to another, as you 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. And although Celsus may wish to place what is told of Jesus, and of those who saw Him after His resurrection, on the same level with imaginary appearances of a different kind, and those who have invented such, yet to those who institute a candid and intelligent examination, the events will appear only the more miraculous.
After these points, Celsus proceeds to bring against the Gospel narrative a charge which is not to be lightly passed over, saying that
if Jesus desired to show that his power was really divine, he ought to have appeared to those who had ill-treated him, and to him who had condemned him, and to all men universally. For it appears to us also to be true, according to the Gospel account, that He was not seen after His resurrection in the same manner as He used formerly to show Himself — publicly, and to all men. But it is recorded in the Acts, that
being seen during forty days, He expounded to His disciples
the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And in the Gospels 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. I am of opinion now that the statements in this passage contain some great and wonderful mysteries, which are beyond the grasp not merely of the great multitude of ordinary believers, but even of those who are far advanced (in Christian knowledge), and that in them the reason would be explained why He did not show Himself, after His resurrection from the dead, in the same manner as before that event. And in a treatise of this nature, composed in answer to a work directed against the Christians and their faith, observe whether we are able to adduce a few rational arguments out of a greater number, and thus make an impression upon the hearers of this apology.
Although Jesus was only a single individual, He was nevertheless more things than one, according to the different standpoint from which He might be regarded; 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. 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. And I think that the Saviour Himself indicates the same thing by the words:
I was daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you laid no hold on Me. 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, and while as yet He was not dead unto sin, all men were capable of seeing Him; but that, when He had
put off the governments and powers, and had no longer anything which was capable of being seen by the multitude, all who had formerly seen Him were not now able to behold Him. And therefore, sparing them, He did not show Himself to all after His resurrection from the dead.
And why do I say
to all? For even with His own apostles and disciples He was not perpetually present, nor did He constantly show Himself to them, because they were not able without intermission to receive His divinity. For His deity was more resplendent after He had finished the economy (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,
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 value 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.' 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; 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. 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 you 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. The explanation which appeared to us to be appropriate to this passage, we gave in the exegetical remarks which we have made on the first Epistle to the Thessalonians.
And be not surprised if all the multitudes who have believed on Jesus do not behold His resurrection, when Paul, writing to the Corinthians, can say to them, as being incapable of receiving greater matters,
For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified; which is the same as saying,
Hitherto you were not able, neither yet now are you able, for you are still carnal. 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 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.
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. 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 there 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.
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; and as His death was necessary, because of the statement,
For in that He died, He died unto sin once, and this,
Being made conformable to His death, and this,
For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: 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. 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, or, as John expresses it,
wherein was never man yet laid. 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 he 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 — and in the statement of Luke and John, that no one had ever been interred therein before. For it became Him, who was unlike other dead men (but who even in death manifested signs of life in the water and the blood), and who was, so to speak, a new dead man, to be laid in a new and clean tomb, in order that, as His birth was purer than any other (in consequence of His being born, not in the way of ordinary generation, but of a virgin), His burial also might have the purity symbolically indicated in His body being deposited in a sepulchre which was new, not built of stones gathered from various quarters, and having no natural unity, but quarried and hewed out of one rock, united together in all its parts. Regarding the explanation, however, of these points, and the method of ascending from the narratives themselves to the things which they symbolized, one might treat more profoundly, and in a manner more adapted to their divine character, on a more suitable occasion, in a work expressly devoted to such subjects. The literal narrative, however, one might thus explain, viz., that it was appropriate for Him who had resolved to endure suspension upon the cross, to maintain all the accompaniments of the character He had assumed, in order that He who as a man had been put to death, and who as a man had died, might also as a man be buried. But even if it had been related in the Gospels, according to the view of Celsus, that Jesus had immediately disappeared from the cross, he and other unbelievers would have found fault with the narrative, and would have brought against it some such objection as this:
Why, pray, did he disappear after he had been put upon the cross, and not disappear before he suffered? If, then, after learning from the Gospels that He did not at once disappear from the cross, they imagine that they can find fault with the narrative, because it did not invent, as they consider it ought to have done, any such instantaneous disappearance, but gave a true account of the matter, is it not reasonable that they should accord their faith also to His resurrection, and should believe that He, according to His pleasure, on one occasion, when the doors were shut, stood in the midst of His disciples, and on another, after distributing bread to two of His acquaintances, immediately disappeared from view, after He had spoken to them certain words?
But how is it that this Jew of Celsus could say that Jesus concealed Himself? For his words regarding Him are these:
And who that is sent as a messenger ever conceals himself when he ought to make known his message? Now, He did not conceal Himself, who said to those who sought to apprehend Him,
I was daily teaching openly in the temple, and you laid no hold upon Me. But 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 all 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. 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 came and rolled back the stone. 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. 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 defense 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 distinct — 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. Now, so far as his language conveys a meaning, he would have that to take place which is both impossible and absurd, viz., that while undergoing His punishment He should be seen only by one individual, but after His resurrection by all men! Or else how will you explain his words,
The opposite ought to have happened?
Jesus taught us who it was that sent Him, in the words,
None knows the Father but the Son; and in these,
No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. 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, hearing it declared in one passage, that
God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all; and in another, 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 leads to the light, and those who sin He will punish — a circumstance which Celsus not observing, has represented Him
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, 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; 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 you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And the object of His coming had been explained at great length in His discourses on the beatitudes, and in the announcements which followed them, and in the parables, and in His conversations with the scribes and Pharisees. And the instruction afforded us by the Gospel of John, shows that the eloquence of Jesus consisted not in words, but in deeds; while it is manifest from the Gospel narratives that His speech was
with power, on which account also they marvelled at Him.
In addition to all this, the Jew further says:
All these statements are taken from your own books, in addition to which we need no other witness; for you fall upon your own swords.
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: 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, believe such wonders and such appearances of divinity, throughout the whole period of wandering in the wilderness, as they are recorded in the law of the Jews to have done, to refuse to be convinced also, on occasion of the glorious advent of Jesus, by the mighty words which were spoken by Him with authority, and the marvels which He performed in the presence of all the people.
I think what has been stated is enough to convince any one that the unbelief of the Jews with regard to Jesus was in keeping with what is related of this people from the beginning. For I would say in reply to this Jew of Celsus, when he asks,
What God that appeared among men is received with incredulity, and that, too, when appearing to those who expect him? Or why, pray, is he not recognized by those who have been long looking for him? what answer, friends, would you have us return to your 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? 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 you show that you 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: prophecy which said:
Your life shall hang in doubt before your eyes, and you will have no assurance of your life. For you did not believe in the life which came to visit the human race.
Celsus, in adopting the character of a Jew, could not discover any objections to be urged against the Gospel which might not be retorted on him as liable to be brought also against the law and the prophets. For he censures Jesus in such words as the following:
He makes use of threats, and reviles men on light grounds, when he says, 'Woe unto you,' and 'I tell you beforehand.' For by such expressions he manifestly acknowledges his inability to persuade; and this would not be the case with a God, or even a prudent man. Observe, now, whether these charges do not manifestly recoil upon the Jew. For in the writings of the law and the prophets God makes use of threats and revilings, when He employs language of not less severity than that found in the Gospel, such as the following expressions of Isaiah:
Woe unto them that join house to house, and lay field to field; and,
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink; and,
Woe unto them that draw their sins after them as with a long rope; and,
Woe unto those of you who are mighty to drink wine; 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? 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? And are there not revilings in Ezekiel directed against the people, when the Lord says to the prophet,
You dwell in the midst of scorpions? 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 defense 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 defense 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?
that you are satisfied with the answer, which explains that the Homeric Hermes addresses such language to Odysseus to remind him of his duty, because it is characteristic of the Sirens to flatter and to say pleasing things, around whom
Is a huge heap of bones,
and who say,
Come here, much lauded Odysseus, great glory of the Greeks;
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 healing 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?
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 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 articulate understanding of such a topic, and is able to plead well on its behalf, or not, but has only given his assent to it as being of a legendary character. 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 defense 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,
I was found of them who sought Me not; I became manifest to those who inquired not after Me. 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; 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:
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, 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.
Source. Translated by Frederick Crombie. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04162.htm>.
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