Celsus

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Celsus wrote his work True Discourse (or, True Reason) as a polemic against the Christians in approximately 178 CE. Celsus divided the work into two sections, the one in which objections are put in the mouth of a Jewish interlocutor and the other in which Celsus speaks as the pagan philosopher that he is.

Celsus ridiculed Christians because they advocated blind faith instead of reason.

Celsus, a Platonist, writing during the term of Marcus Aurelius, “opposed the ‘sectarian’ tendencies at work in the Christian movement because he saw in Christianity a ‘privatizing’ of religion, the transferal of religious values from the public sphere to a private association.” [1]

About sixty years after it was first published, the book written by Celsus inspired a massive refutation by Origen in Contra Celsum, which is our source of knowledge for Celsus, who was later condemned along with other critics such as Porphyry on obvious grounds.

Celsus lived in during the 2nd century, CE. while Origen is refuting him in the 3rd century.

Celsus' writings no longer survive in tact, but we have access to some of his work when Origen quotes passages for the purpose of refuting what he claimed. The following is one of those quoted passages.

"Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god." Origen, Contra Celsum 1.28 Translation


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Footnotes

  1. Christians as the Romans Saw Them, by Robert Wilken page 125.