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Chapter XXXIV.

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.”32943294    Eurip., Bacchæ, 498 (ed. Dindorf).

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.”32953295    Cf. Euseb., Hist. Eccles., bk. ii. c. vii.  And yet he does not know that it was not so much Pilate that condemned Him (who knew that “for envy the Jews had delivered Him”), as the 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 thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him?”32963296    Matt. xxvii. 19.  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.

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