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EXCURSUS

CHRISTIANS AS A THIRD RACE, IN THE JUDGMENT OF THEIR OPPONENTS

For a proper appreciation of the Greek and Roman estimate of Christianity, it is essential, in the first instance, to recollect how the Jews were regarded and estimated throughout the empire, since it was generally known that the Christians had emanated from the Jews.

Nothing is more certain than that the Jews were distinguished throughout the Roman empire as a special people in contrast to all others. Their imageless worship (ἀθεότης), their stubborn refusal to participate in other cults, together with their exclusiveness (ἀμιξία), marked them off from all nations as a unique people.435435There were also their special customs (circumcision, prohibition of swine's flesh, the sabbath, etc.), but these did not contribute so seriously as ἀθεότης and ἀμιξία to establish the character of the Jews for uniqueness; for customs either identical or somewhat similar were found among other Oriental peoples as well. For ἀθεότης (cp. my essay on “The Charge of Atheism in the First Three Centuries,” Texte u. Unters., xxviii. 4), see Pliny, Hist. Nat., xiii. 4. 46: “gens contumelia numinum insignis” (“a race distinguished by its contempt for deities”); Tacit., Hist., v. 5: “Judaei mente sola unumque numen intellegunt . . . . igitur nulla simulacra urbibus suis, nedum templis sistunt; non regibus haec adolatio non Cæsaribus honor” (“the Jews conceive of their deity as one, by the mind alone . . . . hence there are no images erected in their cities or even in their temples. This reverence is not paid to kings, nor this honor to the Cæsars”); Juv., Satir., xiv. 97: “nil praeter nubes et caeli numen adorant” (“they venerate simply the clouds and the deity of the sky”), etc. For μισανθρωπία and ἀμιξία, see Tacit. (loc.cit.): “Apud ipsos fides obstinata, misericordia in promptu, sed adversus omnes alios hostile odium” (“Among themselves their honesty is inflexible, their compassion quick to move, but to all other persons they show the hatred of antagonism”); and earlier still, Apollonius Molon (in Joseph., Apion. ii. 14). Cp. Schürer's Gesch. des jüd. Volk., III.(3), p. 418 [Eng. trans., II. ii. 295]. This uniqueness was openly acknowledged by the 267legislation of Cæsar. Except for a brief period, the Jews were certainly never expected to worship the emperor. Thus they stood alone by themselves amid all the other races who were included in, or allied to, the Roman empire. The blunt formula “We are Jews” never occurs in the Greek and Roman literature, so far as I know;436436Yet, cp. Epist. Aristeas § 16 (ed. Wendland, 1900, p. 6): τὸν πάντων ἐπόπτην καὶ κτίστην θεὸν οὗτοι σέβονται, ὃν καὶ πάντες, ἡμεῖς δὲ προσονομάζοντες ἑτέρως Ζῆνα καὶ Δία. but the fact was there, i.e., the view was widely current that the Jews were a national phenomenon by themselves, deficient in those traits which were common to the other nations.437437In Egypt a clear-cut triple division obtained—Egyptians, Greeks, and Jews. Cp. Schürer III.(3), p. 23 [Eng, trans., II. ii. 231]. Furthermore, in every province and town the Jews, and the Jews alone, kept themselves aloof from the neighboring population by means of their constitutional position and civic demeanor. Only, this very uniqueness of character was taken to be a defect in public spirit and patriotism, as well as an insult and a disgrace, from Apollonius Molon and Posidonius down to Pliny, Tacitus, and later authors,438438Apollonius Molon in Joseph., Apion., II. 15, “The most stupid of the barbarians, ἄθεοι, μισάνθρωποι”; Seneca (in August., de Civit., vi. 11), “sceleratissima gens”; Tacitus (Hist., v. 8), “despectissima pars servientium—taeterrima gens”; Pliny (loc. cit.), Marcus Aurelius (in Ammian, xxii. 5), and Cæcilius (in Min. Felix, x.), “Judaeorum misera gentilitas.” although one or two of the more intelligent writers did not miss the “philosophic” character of the Jews.439439Aristotle (according to Clearchus), (φιλόσοφοι παρὰ Σύροις); Theophrastus (according to Porphyry), ἅτε φιλόσοφοι τὸ γένος ὄντες); Strabo (xvi. 2. 35, pp. 760 f.); and Varro (in August., de Civit., iv. 31).

Disengaging itself from this Jewish people, Christianity now encountered the Greeks and Romans. In the case of Christians, some of the sources of offence peculiar to the Jews were absent; but the greatest offence of all appeared only in heightened colors, viz., the ἀθεότης and the ἀμιξία (μισανθρωπία). Consequently the Christian religion was described as a “superstitio nova et malefica” (Suet., Nero, 16), as a “superstitio prava, immodica” (Plin., Ep., x. 96, 97), as an “exitiabilis superstitio” (Tacit., Annal., xv. 44), and as a “vana et demens superstitio” (Min. Felix, 9), while the Christians themselves were characterized 268as “per flagitia invisi,” and blamed for their “odium generis humani.440440Tacitus (loc. cit.); cp. Tertull., Apol. xxxv., “publici hostes”; xxxvii., “hostes maluistis vocare generis humani Christianos” (you prefer to call Christians the enemies of the human race); Minuc., x., “pravae religionis obscuritas”; viii., “homines deploratae, inlicitae ac desperatae factionis” (reprobate characters, belonging to an unlawful and desperate faction); “plebs profanae coniurationis”; ix., “sacraria taeterrima impiae citionis” (abominable shrines of an impious assembly); “eruenda et execranda consensio” (a confederacy to be rooted out and detested).

Several sensible people during the course of the second century certainly took a different view. Lucian saw in Christians half crazy, credulous fanatics, yet he could not altogether refuse them his respect. Galen explained their course of life as philosophic, and spoke of them in terms of high esteem.441441The passage is extant only in the Arabic (see above, p. 212). Porphyry also treated them, and especially their theologians, the gnostics and Origen, as respectable opponents.442442Of the historical basis of the Christian religion and its sacred books in the New Testament, Porphyry and the Neoplatonists in general formed no more favorable opinion than did Celsus, while even in the Old Testament they found (agreeing thus far with the Christian gnostics) a great deal of folly and falsehood. The fact is, no one, not even Celsus, criticised the gospel history so keenly and disparagingly as Porphyry. Still, much that was to be found in the books of Moses and in John appeared to them of value. Further, they had a great respect for the Christian philosophy of religion, and endeavored in all seriousness to come to terms with it, recognizing that it approximated more nearly than that of the gnostics to their own position. The depreciatory estimate of the world and the dualism which they found in gnosticism seemed to them a frivolous attack upon the Godhead. Per contra Porphyry says of Origen: “His outward conduct was that of a Christian and unlawful. But he thought like a Greek in his views of matter and of God, and mingled the ideas of the Greeks with foreign fables” (in Eus., H.E., vi. 19). On the attitude of Plotinus towards the gnosis of the church and gnosticism, cp. Karl Schmidt in Texte u. Unters., N.F. v. part 4. But the vast majority of authors persisted in regarding them as an utter abomination. “Latebrosa et lucifuga natio,” cries the pagan Cæcilius (in Minut. Felix, viii. f.), “in publicum muta, in angulis garrula; templa ut busta despiciunt, deos despuunt, rident sacra . . . . occultis se notis et insignibus noscunt et amant mutuo paene antequam noverint . . . . cur nullas aras habent, templa nulla, nulla nota simulacra . . . . nisi illud quod colunt et interprimunt, aut punieudum est aut pudendum? unde autem vel quis ille aut ubi deus unicus, solitarius, destitutus, quem non 269gens libera, non regna, non saltem Romana superstitio noverunt? Judaeorum sola et misera gentilitas unum et ipsi deum, sed palam, sed templis, aris, victimis caeremoniisque coluerunt, cuius adeo nulla vis ac potestas est, ut sit Romanis numinibus cum sua sibi natione captivus. At iam Christiani quanta monstra, quae portenta confingunt.443443“Apeople who skulk and shun the light of day, silent in public but talkative in holes and corners. They despise the temples as dead-houses, they scorn the gods, they mock sacred things . . . . they recognize each other by means of secret tokens and marks, and love each other almost before they are acquainted. Why have they no altars, no temples, no recognized images . . . . unless what they worship and conceal deserves punishment or is something to be ashamed of? Moreover, whence is he, who is he, where is he, that one God, solitary and forsaken, whom no free people, no realm, not even a Roman superstition, has ever known? The lonely and wretched race of the Jews worshipped one God by themselves, but they did it openly, with temples, altars, victims, and ceremonies, and he has so little strength and power that he and all his nation are in bondage to the deities of Rome! But the Christians! What marvels, what monsters, do they feign!” What people saw—what Cæcilius saw before him—was a descending series, with regard to the numina and cultus: first Romans, then Jews, then Christians.

So monstrous, so repugnant are those Christians (of whose faith and life Cæcilius proceeds to tell the most evil tales), that they drop out of ordinary humanity, as it were. Thus Cæcilius indeed calls them a “natio,” but he knows that they are recruited from the very dregs of the nations, and consequently are no “people” in the sense of a “nation.” The Christian Octavius has to defend them against this charge of being a non-human phenomenon, and Tertullian goes into still further details in his Apology and in his address ad Nationes. In both of these writings the leading idea is the refutation of the charge brought against Christianity, of being something exceptional and utterly inhuman. “Alia nos opinor, natura, Cyropennæ [Cynopae?] aut Sciapodes,” we read in Apol., viii., “alii ordines dentium, alii ad incestam libidinem nervi? . . . . homo est enim et Christianus et quod et tu” (“We are of a different nature, I suppose! Are we Cyropennae or Sciapodes? Have we different teeth, different organs for incestuous lust? . . . . Nay, a Christian too is a man, he is whatever you are.” In Apol., xvi., Tertullian is obliged to refute wicked lies told about Christians which, if true, would make Christians out to be quite 270an exceptional class of human beings. Whereas, in reality, “Christiani homines sunt vobiscum degentes, eiusdem victus, habitus, instructus, eiusdem ad vitam necessitatis. neque enim Brachmanae aut Indorum gymnosophistae sumus, silvicolae et exules vitae . . . . si caeremonias tuas non frequento, attamen et illa die homo sum” (Apol., xlii.: “Christian men live beside you, share your food, your dress, your customs, the same necessities of life as you do. For we are neither Brahmins nor Indian gymnosophists, inhabiting the woods, and exiles from existence. If I do not attend your religious ceremonies, none the less am I a human being on the sacred day”). “Cum concutitur imperium, concussis etiam ceteris membris eius utique et nos, licit extranei a turbis aestimemur,444444Hence the request made to Christians is quite intelligible: “Begone from a world to which you do not belong, and trouble us not.” Cp. the passage already cited [p. 252] from Justin's Apol. II. iv., where Christians are told by their opponents, πάντες ἑαυτοὺς φονεύσαντες πορεύεσθε ἤδη παρὰ τὸν θεὸν καὶ ἡμῖν πράγματα μὴ παρέχετε Tertullian relates (ad Scap. v.) how Arrius Antoninus, the proconsul of Asia, called out to the Christians who crowded voluntarily to his tribunal in a time of persecution, “You miserable wretches; if you want to die, you have precipices and ropes.” Celsus (in Orig., c. Cels. VIII. lv.) writes: “If Christians decline to render due honor to the gods or to respect those appointed to take charge of the religious services, let them not grow up to manhood or marry wives or have children or take any part in the affairs of this life, but rather be off with all speech, leaving no posterity behind them, that such a race may become utterly extinct on earth.” Hatred of the empire and emperor, and uselessness from the economic standpoint—these were standing charges against Christians, charges which the apologists (especially Tertullian) were at great pains to controvert. Celsus tries to show Christians that they were really trying to cut off the branch on which they sat (VIII. lxviii.): “Were all to act as you do, the emperor would soon be left solitary and forlorn, and affairs world presently fall into the hands of the wildest and most lawless barbarians. Then it would be all over with the glory of your worship and the true wisdom among men.” As the Christians were almost alone among religionists in being liable to this charge of enmity to the empire, they were held responsible by the populace, as everybody knows, for any great calamities that occurred. The passages in Tertullian bearing on this point are quite familiar; but one should also compare the parallel statements in Origen (in Matt. Comment Ser., xxxix.). Henceforth Christians appear a special group by themselves. Maximinus Daza, in his rescript to Sabinus (Eus., H.E., ix. 9), speaks of the ἔθνος τῶν Χριστιανῶν (the nation of the Christians), and the edict of Galerius reluctantly admits that Christians succeeded in combining the various nations into a relative unity by means of their commandments (Eus., H.E., viii. 17. 7): τοσαύτη αὐτοὺς πλεονεξία παρεσχήκει καὶ ἄνοια κατειλήφει, ὡς μὴ ἕπεσθαι τοῖς ὑπὸ τῶν πάλαι καταδειχθεῖσιν . . . . ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὴν αὐτῶν πρόθεσιν καὶ ὡς ἕκαστος ἐβούλετο, οὕτως ἑαυτοῖς καὶ νόμους ποιῆσαι καὶ τούτους παραφυλάστειν καὶ ἐν διαφόροις διάφορα πλήθη συνάγειν (“Such arrogance had seized them and such senselessness had mastered them, that instead of following the institutions of their ancestors . . . . they framed laws for themselves according to their own purpose, as each desired, and observed these laws, and thus held various gatherings in various places”). in aliquo loco casus invenimur” (Apol., xxxi.: “When the state is disturbed and all its other members affected by the disturbance, surely we also are to be found in some spot or another, although we are supposed to live aloof from crowds.” It is evident also from the nicknames and abusive epithets hurled at them, that Christians attracted people's attention as something entirely strange (cp., e.g., Apol. 1).

In his two books ad Nationes, no less than in the Apology, all these arguments also find contemporary expression. Only in the former one further consideration supervenes, which deserves 271special attention, namely, the assertion of Tertullian that Christians were called “genus tertium” (the Third race) by their opponents. The relevant passages are as follows:—

Ad Nat., I. viii.: “Plane, tertium genus dicimur. An Cyropennae aliqui vel Sciapodes vel aliqui de subterraneo Antipodes? Si qua istic apud vos saltem ratio est, edatis velim primum et secundum genus, ut ita de tertio constet. Psammetichus quidem putavit sibi se de ingenio exploravisse prima generis. dicitur enim infantes recenti e partu seorsum a commercio hominum alendos tradidisse nutrici, quam et ipsam propterea elinguaverat, ut in totum exules vocis humanae non auditu formarent loquellam, sed de suo promentes eam primam nationem designarent cuius sonum natura dictasset. Prima vox ‘beccos' renuntiata est; interpretatio eius ‘panis' apud Phrygas nomen est; Phryges primum genus exinde habentur . . . . sint nunc primi Phryges, non tamen tertii Christiani. Quantae enim aliae gentium series post Phrygas? verum recogitate, ne quos tertium genus dicitis principem locum obtineant, siquidem non ulla gens non Christiana. itaque quaecunque gens prima, nihilominus Christiana. ridicula dementia novissimos diciti et tertios nominatis. sed de superstitione tertium genus deputamur, non de natione, ut sint Romani, Judaei, dehinc Christiani. ubi autem Graeci? vel si in Romanorum suberstitionibus censentur, quoniam quidem etiam deos Graeciae Roma sollicitavit, ubi 272saltem Ægyptii, et ipsi, quod sciam, privatae curiosaeque religionis? porro si tam monstruosi, qui tertii loci, quales habendi, qui primo et secundo antecedunt?” (“We are indeed called the third race of men! Are we monsters, Cyropennae, or Sciopades, or some Antipodeans from the underworld? If these have any meaning for you, pray explain the first and second of the races, that we may thus learn the ‘third.' Psammetichus thought he had ingeniously hit upon primeval man. He removed, it is said, some newly born infants from all human intercourse and entrusted their upbringing to a nurse whom he had deprived of her tongue, in order that being exiled entirely from the sound of the human voice, they might form their words without hearing it, and derive them from their own nature, thus indicating what was the first nation whose language was originally dictated by nature. The first word they uttered was ‘beccos,' the Phrygian word for bread. The Phrygians, then, are held to be the first race . . . . If, then, the Phrygians are the first race, still it does not follow that the Christians are the third. For how many other races successively came after the Phrygians? But take heed lest those whom you call the third race take first place, since there is no nation which is not Christian. Whatever nation, therefore, is the first, is nevertheless Christian now. It is senseless absurdity for you to call us the latest of nations and then to dub us the Third. .But, you say, it is on the score of religion and not of nationality that we are considered to be third; it is the Romans first, then the Jews, and after that the Christians. What about the Greeks then? Or supposing that they are reckoned among the various Roman religions (since it was from Greece that Rome borrowed even her deities), where do the Egyptians at any rate come in, since they possess a religion which, so far as I know, is all their own, and full of secrecy? Besides, if those who occupy the third rank are such monsters, what must we think of those who precede them in the first and second?”).

Further, in ad Nat., I. xx. (after showing that the charges brought against Christians recoil upon their adversaries the heathen), Tertuilian proceeds: “Habetis et vos tertium genus etsi non de tertio ritu, attamem de tertio sexu. Illud aptius de 273viro et femina viris et feminis iunctum” (“You too have your ‘third race' [i.e., of eunuchs], though it is not in the way of a third religion, but of a third sex. Made up of male and female in conjunction, it is better suited to pander to men and women!”)

Add also a passage fromn the treatise Scorpiace (x.: a word to heretics who shunned martyrdom): “Illic constitues et synagogas Judaeorum fontes persecutionum, apud quas apostoli flagella perpessi sunt, et populos nationum cum suo quidem circo, ubi facile conclamant: ‘Usque quo genus tertium?'” (“Will you set up there [i.e., in heaven] also synagogues of the Jews—which are fountains of persecution—before which the apostles suffered scourging, and heathen crowds with their circus, forsooth, where all are ready to shout, ‘How long are we to endure this third race?'”).

From these passages we infer:—

i. That “the third race” (genus tertium) as a designation of Christians on the lips of the heathen was perfectly common in Carthage about the year 200. Even in the circus people cried, “Usque quo genus tertium?

ii. That this designation referred exclusively to the Christian method of conceiving and worshipping God. The Greeks, Romans, and all other nations passed for the first race (genus primum), in so far as they mutually recognized each other's gods or honored foreign gods as well as their own, and had sacrifices amid images. The Jews (with their national God, their exclusiveness, and a worship which lacked images but included sacrifice)445445Cp. ad Nat., I. viii. constituted the second race (genus alterum). The Christians, again (with.their spiritual God, their lack of images and sacrifices, and the contempt for the gods—contemnere deos—which they shared with the Jews446446Cp. what is roundly asserted in ad Nat., I. viii.: “It is on the score of religion and not of nationality that we are considered to be third; it is the Romans first, then the Jews, and after that the Christians.” Also, I. xx.: “Tertium genus [dicimur] de ritu” (“We are called a third race on the ground of religion”). It seems to me utterly impossible to suppose that Tertullian might have been mistaken in this interpretation of the title in question.), formed the Third race (genus tertium).

iii. When Tertullian talks as if the whole system of classification 274could denote the chronological series of the nations, it is merely a bit of controversial dialectic. Nor has the designation of “the Third race” (genus tertium) anything whatever to do either with the virginity of Christians, or, on the other hand, with the sexual debaucheries set down to their credit.447447Passages may indeed be pointed out in which either virginity (or unsexual character) or unnatural lust is conceived as “genus tertium” (a third race), or as a race (genus) in general (Tertull., de Virg. Vel., vii.: “Si caput mulieris vir est, ubique et virginis, de qua fit mulier illa quae nupsit, nisi si virgo tertium genus est monstrosum aliquod sui capitis.” “If the man is the head of the woman, he is also the head of the virgin, for out of a virgin comes the woman who marries; unless she is some monstrosity with a head of its own, a third race”). Cp. op cit., v., where the female sex is “genus secundi hominis”; pseudo-Cypr., de Pudic. vii., “Virginitas neutrius est sexus”; and Clem. Alex., Paedag., II. x. 85, οὐδὲ γὰρ αἰδοῖα ἔχει ἡ ὕαινα ἅμα ἄμφω, ἄρρενος καὶ θήλεος, καθὼς ὑπειλήφασί τινες, ἑρμαφροδίτους τερατολογοῦντες καὶ τρίτην ταύτην μεταξὺ θηλείας καὶ ἄρρενος ἀνδρόγυνον καινοτομοῦντες φύσιν [a similar sexual analogy]. Cp., on the other hand, op. cit., I. iv. 11, where there is a third condition common to both sexes, viz., that of being human beings and also children; also Lampridius, Alex. Sever., xxiii.: “Idem tertium genus hominum eunuchos dicebat” (“He said eunuchs were a third race of mankind”). Obviously, however, such passages are irrelevant to the point now under discussion.

All these results448448It is remarkable that Tertullian is only aware of the title “tertium genus” as a pagan description of Christians, and not as one also applied by Christians to themselves. But despite his silence on the fact that Christians also designated their religion as “the third kind” of religion, we must nevertheless assume that the term rose as spontaneously to the lips of Christians as of their opponents, since it is unlikely, though not impossible, that the latter borrowed it from Christian literature. (Consequently Fronto, in his lost treatise against the Christians, must have made polemical use of the title “genus tertium” which he found in Christian writings, and by this means the term passed out into wider currency among the heathen. Yet in Minucius Felix it does not occur.) To recall the chronological succession of its occurrences once again: at the opening of the second century one Christian writer (the author of the Preaching of Peter) calls the Christian religion “the third kind” of religion; in the year 197, Tertullian declares, “Tertium genus dicimur” (“We are called the third race”); while in 242-243 A.D. a Roman or African Christian (pseudo-Cyprian) writes, “Tertium genus sumus” (“We are the third race”). were of vital importance to the impression made by Christianity (and Judaism449449I add, Judaism—for hitherto in our discussion we could not determine with absolute certainty whether any formula was current which distinguished the Jews from all other peoples with regard to their conception and worship of God. Now it is perfectly plain. The Jews ranked in this connection as an independent magnitude, a “genus alterum.”) upon the pagan world. As early as the opening of the second century Christians designate their religion as “the third method” of religion (cp. the 275evidence above furnished by the Preaching of Peter), and frankly declare, about the year 240 A.D., “We are the third race of mankind” (cp. the evidence of the treatise de Pascha Computus).450450It is now clear that we were right in conjecturing above that the Romans were to pseudo-Cyprian the first race, and the Jews the second, as opposed to the Third race. Which proves that the pagans did borrow this conception, and that (even previously to 200 A.D.)451451How long before we do not know. By the end of the second century, at any rate, the title was quite common. It is therefore hardly possible to argue against the authenticity of Hadrian's epistle to Servianus (see above) on the ground that it contains this triple division: “Hunc [nummum] Christiani, hunc Judaei, hunc omnes venerantur et gentes” (“This pelf is revered by the Christians, the Jews, and the nations”). But the description of Romans, Greeks, etc., as “gentes” is certainly very suspicious; it betrays, unless I am mistaken, the pen of a Christian writer. they described the Jews as the second and the Christians as the third race of men. This they did for the same reason as the Christians, on account of the nature of the religion in question.

It is indeed amazing! One had certainly no idea that in the consciousness of the Greeks and Romans the Jews stood out in such bold relief from the other nations, and the Christians from both, or that they represented themselves as independent “genera,” and were so described in an explicit formula. Neither Jews nor Christians could look for any ample recognition,452452Thanks to Varro, who had a genius for classification, people had been accustomed among literary circles, in the first instance, to grade the gods and religions as well. Perhaps it was under the influence of his writings (and even Tertullian makes great play with them in his treatise ad Nationes) that the distinction of Jews and Christians as “the second and third ways” obtained primarily among the learned, and thence made its way gradually into the minds of the common people. It is utterly improbable that this new classification was influenced by the entirely different distinction current among the Egyptians (see above), of the three γένη (Egyptians, Greeks, and Jews). Once it was devised, the former conception must have gone on working with a logic of its own, setting Judaism and Christianity in a light which was certainly not intended at the outset. It developed the conception of three circles, of three possible religions! Strangely enough, Tertullian never mentions the “genus tertium” in his Apology, though it was contemporaneous with the ad Nationes. Was the fact not of sufficient importance to him in encountering a Roman governor? little as the demarcation was intended as a recognition at all.

The polemical treatises against Christians prove that the triple formula “Romans, etc., Jews, and Christians” was really never absent from the minds of their opponents. So far as we are 276acquainted with these treatises, they one and all adopt this scheme of thought: the Jews originally parted company with all other nations, and after leaving the Egyptians, they formed an ill-favored species by themselves, while it is from these very Jews that the Christians have now broken off, retaining all the worst features of Judaism and adding loathsome and repulsive elements of their own. Such was the line taken by Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian in their anti-Christian writings. Celsus speaks of the γένος of the Jews, and opposes both γένη in the sharpest manner to all other nations, in order to show that when Christians, as renegade Jews, distinguish themselves from this γένος—a γένος which is, at least, a people— they do so to their own loss. He characterizes Christians (VIII. ii.) as ἀποτειχίζοντες ἑαυτοὺς καὶ ἀπορρηγνύντες ἀπὸ τῶν λοιπῶν ἀνθρώπων (“people who separate themselves and break away front the rest of mankind”). For all that, everything in Christianity is simply plagiarized from a plagiarism, or copied from a copy. Christians per se have no new teaching (μάθημα, I. iv.; cp. II. v. and IV. xiv.). That they have any teaching at all to present, is simply due to the fact that they have kept back the worst thing of all, viz., their στασιάζειν πρὸς τὸ κοινόν (“their revolt against the common weal”).453453The τρίτον γένος which Celsus mentions rather obscurely in V. lxi. has nothing to do with the third race which is our present topic. It refers to distinctions within Christianity itself. Porphyry—who, I imagine, is the anti-Christian controversialist before the mind of Eusebius454454Cp. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf in the Zeitschrift für neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, i. 2, pp. 101 f.—in his Preparatio, i. 2, begins by treating Christians as a sheer impossibility, inasmuch as they will not and do not belong to the Greeks or to the barbarians. Then he goes on to say: καὶ μηδ᾽ αὐτῷ τῷ παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις τιμουμένῳ θεῷ κατὰ τὰ παῤ αὐτοῖς προσανέχειν νόμιμα, καινὴν δὲ τινα καὶ ἐρήμην ἀνοδίαν ἑαυτοῖς συντεμεῖν μήτε τὰ Ἑλλήνων μήτε τὰ Ἰουδαίων φυλάττουσαν (“Nor do they adhere to the rites of the God worshipped by the Jews according to their customs, but fashion some new and solitary vagary for themselves of which there is no trace in Hellenism or Judaism”). So that he also gives the triple classification. Finally, Julian (Neumann, p.164) likewise 277follows the division of Ἕλληνες, Ἰουδαῖοι, and Γαλιλαῖοι [Greeks, Jews, Galileans]. The Galileans are neither Greeks nor Jews; they have come from the Jews, but have separated from them and struck out a path of their own. “They have repudiated every noble and significant idea current among us Greeks, and among the Hebrews who are descended from Moses; yet they have lifted from both sources everything that adhered to these imitations like an ill-omened demon, taking their godlessness from the levity of the Jews, and their careless and lax way of living from our own thoughtlessness and vulgarity.”

Plainly, then, Greek and Jews and Christians were distinguished throughout upon the ground of religion, although the explicit formula of “the third race” occurs only in the West. After the middle of the third century, both empire and emperor learnt to recognize and dread the third race of worshippers as a “nation,” as well as a race. They were a state within the state. The most instructive piece of evidence in this connection is the account of Decius given by Cyprian (Ep. lv. 9): “Multo patientius et tolerabilius audivit levari adversus se aemulum principem quam constitui Romae dei sacerdotem” (“He would hear of a rival prince being set up against himself with far more patience and equanimity than of a priest of God being appointed at Rome”). The terrible edict issued by this emperor for the persecution of Christians is in the first instance the practical answer given by the state to the claims of the “New People” and to the political view advocated by Melito and Origen. The inner energy of the new religion comes out in its self-chosen title of “the New People” or “the Third race” just as plainly as in the testimony extorted from its opponents, that in Christianity a new genus of religion had actually emerged side by side with the religions of the nations and of Judaism. It does not afford much direct evidence upon the outward spread and strength of Christianity, for the former estimate emerged, asserted itself, and was recognized at an early period, when Christians were still, in point of numbers, a comparatively small society.455455They could not have been utterly insignificant, however; otherwise this estimate would be incredible. In point of numbers they must have already rivalled the Jews at any rate. But it must have been 278of the highest importance for the propaganda of the Christian religion, to be so distinctly differentiated from all other religions and to have so lofty a consciousness of its own position put before the world.456456Judaism already owed no small amount of her propaganda to her apologetic and, within her apologetic, to the valuation of herself which it developed. Cp. Schürer, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, III.(3), pp. 107 f. [Eng. trans., II. iii. 249 f.]. Naturally this had a repelling influence as well on certain circles. Still it was a token of power, and power never fails to succeed.

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