Celsus is one of the handful of critics who have not been written completely out of history. Celsus gives us a glimpse of the criticisms made against christian claims. In that he wrote before the second century, it is interesting to note that many of his criticisms are still with us today as topics of lively debate. The issues he raise are precisely the core of the "problem of evil" which has so occupied the minds of theologians. He mentions the issue of scriptural redaction and forgery, concerns which have proven valid in light of scholarly findings.
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Celsus is one of the handful of critics who have not been written completely out of history. Celsus gives us a glimpse of the criticisms made against christian claims. In that he wrote before the second century, it is interesting to note that many of his criticisms are still with us today as topics of lively debate. The issues he raise are precisely the core of the "problem of evil" which has so occupied the minds of theologians.
He mentions the issue of scriptural redaction and forgery, concerns which have proven valid in light of scholarly findings.
He takes issue with prophecy, and makes the well-known case that nothing in the Jewish writings foretell the coming of a "world-saviour.
Is it not the case that when her deceit was uncovered, to wit, that she was pregnant by a roman soldier called Panthera she was driven away by her husband- the carpenter- and convicted of adultery?
Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories With due respect, I must ask why you are to be taken as the subject of these prophecies rather than the thousands of others who lived after the prophecy was uttered?
What can be applied to you can surely be applied to others. But this is a very old ploy And the wicked will perish in the fire for their sins. I shall save you; you will yet see me, for I am coming again armed with the heavenly powers. So blessed is he that worships me now.
Those who refuse, whole cities and nations, will be cast into the fiery pit Those who hear and believe in me will be saved from the fire. But at the risk of appearing unkind, I ask how much good has been done by those promises have done either the Jews before you or you in your present circumstances.
And would you have us put out faith in such a god? Instead of being masters of the whole world, the jews today have no home of any kind. I need hardly mention every case of prophecy that is said to have occurred among our own people-- prophets and prophetesses as well Are you ignorant of the multitudes wh ohave invented similar tales to lead simple minded hearers astray? The last of these, by the way, is said to have played dice with Demeter in Hades and to have received a golden napkin as a present from her.
An interesting idead-- and hardly an original one. The idea came from greeks and others-- namely, that after cycles of years and because of fortuitous conjunctions of certain stars there are conflagrations and floods, and that after the last flood, in the tiome of Deucalion, the cycle demands a conflagration in accordance with the alternating succession This is responsible for the silly opinion of some christians that god will come down and rain fire upon the earth.
I ask you: Is this not the hope of worms? For what sort of human soul is it that has any use for a rotted corpse of a body? They believe in eternal punishment; well, so do the priests and initiates of the various religions. The christian threaten others with this punishment, just as they are themselves threatened. This is nothing more than a debased and nonsensical version of the myth of Deucalion, a fact I am sure they would not want to come light.
The ancients in their wisdom revealed certain truths to those able to understand: Plato, son of Ariston, points to the truth about the highest good when he says that it cannot be expressed in words, but rather comes from familiarity-- like a flash frpm the blue, imprinting itself upon the soul But Plato, having said this, does not go on to record some myth to make his point as do so many others , nor does he silence the inquirer who questions some of the truths he professes; Plato does not ask people to stop questioning, or to accept that god id like such and such Rather, he tells us where his doctrines come from; there is, in short, a history to what he says, and he is happy to point to the sources of his knowledge, instead of asking us to believe that he speaks on his own authority Each sect brands its own, fills the head of its own with deceitful nonsense Now if these beleivers confess Jesus and others confess someone else, and if they all together have the slogan "Believe and be saved, or damn you," what is to happen to those who really do want to be saved?
I mean, which path are they to follow, since advice of the same sort comes from all quarters? Are the ones who crave salvation to throw dice in order to find out where they should turn? You were hanging high in the ether of clouds. Then the gods struck How can he repent when they become ungrateful or wicked? How can he find fault with his own handiwork, or threaten to destroy his own offspring?
Where is he to banish them, out of the world that he himself has made?
On the True Doctrine
Shelves: history , religion From my Amazon review: While I had read numerous books with references to Celsus in them, I have just gotten around to reading a translation of his book "On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians. Joseph Hoffmann. The text flows well from section to section, though it seems to be in no particular order. All in all, a good read, but not recommended for anyone who is staunchly Christian i. The True Doctrine is a sharp, irreverent and devastating Criticism of Christianity, probably the most famous in antiquity. Hoffmann has done a fine job not only putting this book together, but also giving us a lengthy introduction and copious notes. Reading it I found it to be a mixed bag.
The True Doctrine of Celsus
He leaves Jews and Moses out of those he cites Egyptians, Syrians, Indians, Persians, Odrysians, Samothracians, Eleusinians, Hyperboreans, Galactophagoi, Druids, and Getae , and instead blames Moses for the corruption of the ancient religion: "the goatherds and shepherds who followed Moses as their leader were deluded by clumsy deceits into thinking that there was only one God, [and] without any rational cause Origen considered this a fabricated story. 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. Since accuracy was essential to his refutation of The True Doctrine,  most scholars agree that Origen is a reliable source for what Celsus said.