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Chapter XVI.

In the next place, with regard to the declaration of Jesus against rich men, when He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,”43674367    Cf. Matt. xix. 24. Celsus alleges that this saying manifestly proceeded from Plato, and that Jesus perverted the words of the philosopher, which were, that “it was impossible to be distinguished for goodness, and at the same time for riches.”43684368    Cf. Plato, de Legibus, v. p. 743.  Now who is there that is capable of giving even moderate attention to affairs—not merely among the believers on Jesus, but among the rest of mankind—that would not laugh at Celsus, on hearing that Jesus, who was born and brought up among the Jews, and was supposed to be the son of Joseph the carpenter, and who had not studied literature—not merely that of the Greeks, but not even that of the Hebrews—as the truth-loving Scriptures testify regarding Him,43694369    Cf. Matt. xiii. 54, Mark vi. 2, and John vii. 15. had read Plato, and being pleased with the opinion he expressed regarding rich men, to the effect that “it was impossible to be distinguished for goodness and riches at the same time,” had perverted this, and changed it into, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God!”  Now, if Celsus had not perused the Gospels in a spirit of hatred and dislike, but had been imbued with a love of truth, he would have turned his attention to the point why a camel—that one of animals which, as regards its physical structure, is crooked—was chosen as an object of comparison with a rich man, and what signification the “narrow eye of a needle” had for him who saw that “strait and narrow was the way that leadeth unto life;”43704370    Cf. Matt. vii. 14. and to this point also, that this animal. according to the law, is described as “unclean,” having one element of acceptability, viz. that it ruminates, but one of condemnation, viz., that it does not divide the hoof.  He would have inquired, moreover, how often the camel was adduced as an object of comparison in the sacred Scriptures, and in reference to what objects, that he might thus ascertain the mean582ing of the Logos concerning the rich men.  Nor would he have left without examination the fact that “the poor” are termed “blessed” by Jesus, while “the rich” are designated as “miserable;” and whether these words refer to the rich and poor who are visible to the senses, or whether there is any kind of poverty known to the Logos which is to be deemed “altogether blessed,” and any rich man who is to be wholly condemned.  For even a common individual would not thus indiscriminately have praised the poor, many of whom lead most wicked lives.  But on this point we have said enough.


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