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Chapter XXXVI.

Celsus in the next place, producing from history other than that of the divine record, those passages which bear upon the claims to great antiquity put forth by many nations, as the Athenians, and Egyptians, and Arcadians, and Phrygians, who assert that certain individuals have existed among them who sprang from the earth, and who each adduce proofs of these assertions, says:  “The Jews, then, leading a grovelling life38383838    συγκύψαντες. in some corner of Palestine, and being a wholly uneducated people, who had not heard that these matters had been committed to verse long ago by Hesiod and innumerable other inspired men, wove together some most incredible and insipid stories,38393839    ἀμουσότατα. viz., that a certain man was formed by the hands of God, and had breathed into him the breath of life, and that a woman was taken from his side, and that God issued certain commands, and that a serpent opposed these, and gained a victory over the commandments of God; thus relating certain old wives’ fables, and most impiously representing God as weak at the very beginning (of things), and unable to convince even a single human being whom He Himself had formed.”  By these instances, indeed, this deeply read and learned Celsus, who accuses Jews and Christians of ignorance and want of instruction, clearly evinces the accuracy of his knowledge of the chronology of the respective historians, whether Greek or Barbarian, since he imagines that Hesiod and the “innumerable” others, whom he styles “inspired” men, are older than Moses and his writings—that very Moses who is shown to be much older than the time of the Trojan war!  It is not the Jews, then, who have composed incredible and insipid stories regarding the birth of man from the earth, but these “inspired” men of Celsus, Hesiod and his other “innumerable” companions, who, having neither learned nor heard of the far older and most venerable accounts existing in Palestine, have written such histories as their Theogonies, attributing, so far as in their power, “generation” to their deities, and innumerable other absurdities.  And these are the writers whom Plato expels from his “State” as being corrupters of the youth,38403840    Cf. Plato, de Repub., book ii. etc.—Homer, viz., and those who have composed poems of a similar description!  Now it is evident that Plato did not regard as “inspired” those men who had left behind them such works.  But perhaps it was from a desire to cast reproach upon us, that this Epicurean Celsus, who is better able to judge than Plato (if it be the same Celsus who composed two other books against the Christians), called those individuals “inspired” whom he did not in reality regard as such.


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