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Chapter VII.

There might also be found in the writings of Moses and of the prophets, who are older not only than Plato, but even than Homer and the invention of letters among the Greeks, passages worthy of the grace of God bestowed upon them, and filled with great thoughts, to which they gave utterance, but not because they understood Plato imperfectly, as Celsus imagines.  For how was it possible that they should have heard one who was not yet born?  And if any one should apply the words of Celsus to the apostles of Jesus, who were younger than Plato, say whether it is not on the very face of it an incredible assertion, that Paul the tentmaker, and Peter the fisherman, and John who left his father’s nets, should, through misunderstanding the language of Plato in his Epistles, have expressed themselves as they have done regarding God?  But as Celsus now, after having often required of us immediate assent (to his views), as if he were babbling forth something new in addition to what he has already advanced, only repeats himself,43164316    πολλάκις δὲ ἤδη ὁ Κέλσος θρυλλήσας ὡς ἀξιούμενον εὐθέως πιστεύειν, ὡς καινόν τι παρὰ τὰ πρότερον εἰρημένα.  Guietus thus amends the passage:  πολλάκις δὲ ἤδη ὁ Κέλσος ἀξιούμενος εὐθέως πιστεύειν, ὡς καινόν τι παρὰ τὰ πρότερον εἰρημένα θρυλλήσας, etc.  Boherellus would change ἀξιούμενον into ἀξιοῦμεν. what we have said in reply may suffice.  Seeing, however, he produces another quotation from Plato, in which he asserts that the employment of the method of question and answer sheds light on the thoughts of those who philosophize like him, let us show from the holy Scriptures that the word of God also encourages us to the practice of dialectics:  Solomon, e.g., declaring in one passage, that “instruction unquestioned goes astray;”43174317    παιδεία ἀνεξέλεγκτος πλανᾶται:  cf. Prov. x. 17 (Sept.). and Jesus the son of Sirach, who has left us the treatise called “Wisdom,” declaring in another, that “the knowledge of the unwise is as words that will not stand investigation.”43184318    γνῶσις ἀσυνέτου ἀδιεξέταστοι λόγοι:  cf. Ecclus. xxi. 18.  Our methods of discussion, however, are rather of a gentle kind; for we have learned that he who presides over the preaching of the word ought to be able to confute gainsayers.  But if some continue indolent, and do not train themselves so as to attend to the reading of the word, and “to search the Scriptures,” and, agreeably to the command of Jesus, to investigate the meaning of the sacred writings, and to ask of God concerning them, and to keep “knocking” at what may be closed within them, the Scripture is not on that account to be regarded as devoid of wisdom.


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