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Chapter XXXVIII.

But, moreover, taking the history, contained in the Gospel according to Matthew, of our Lord’s descent into Egypt, he refuses to believe the miraculous circumstances attending it, viz., either that the angel gave the divine intimation, 413or that our Lord’s quitting Judea and residing in Egypt was an event of any significance; but he invents something altogether different, admitting somehow the miraculous works done by Jesus, by means of which He induced the multitude to follow Him as the Christ.  And yet he desires to throw discredit on them, as being done by help of magic and not by divine power; for he asserts “that he (Jesus), having been brought up as an illegitimate child, and having served for hire in Egypt, and then coming to the knowledge of certain miraculous powers, returned from thence to his own country, and by means of those powers proclaimed himself a god.”  Now I do not understand how a magician should exert himself to teach a doctrine which persuades us always to act as if God were to judge every man for his deeds; and should have trained his disciples, whom he was to employ as the ministers of his doctrine, in the same belief.  For did the latter make an impression upon their hearers, after they had been so taught to work miracles; or was it without the aid of these?  The assertion, therefore, that they did no miracles at all, but that, after yielding their belief to arguments which were not at all convincing, like the wisdom of Grecian dialectics,31403140    This difficult passage is rendered in the Latin translation:  “but that, after they had believed (in Christ), they with no adequate supply of arguments, such as is furnished by the Greek dialectics, gave themselves up,” etc. they gave themselves up to the task of teaching the new doctrine to those persons among whom they happened to take up their abode, is altogether absurd.  For in what did they place their confidence when they taught the doctrine and disseminated the new opinions?  But if they indeed wrought miracles, then how can it be believed that magicians exposed themselves to such hazards to introduce a doctrine which forbade the practice of magic?


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