The first book of our answer to the treatise of Celsus, entitled A True Discourse, which concluded with the representation of the Jew addressing Jesus, having now extended to a sufficient length, we intend the present part as a reply to the charges brought by him against those who have been converted from Judaism to Christianity.(1) And we call attention, in the first place, to this special question, viz., why Celsus, when he had once resolved upon the introduction of individuals upon the stage of his book, did not represent the Jew as addressing the converts from heathenism rather than those from Judaism, seeing that his discourse, if directed to us, would have appeared more likely to produce an impression.(2) But probably this claimant to universal knowledge does not know what is appropriate in the matter of such representations; and therefore let us proceed to consider what he has to say to the converts from Judaism. He asserts that "they have forsaken the law of their fathers, in consequence of their minds being led captive by Jesus; that they have been most ridiculously deceived, and that they have become deserters to another name and to another mode of life." Here he has not observed that the Jewish converts have not deserted the law of their fathers, inasmuch as they live according to its prescriptions, receiving their very name from the poverty of the law, according to the literal acceptation of the word; for Ebion signifies "poor" among the Jews,(3) and those Jews who have received Jesus as Christ are called by the name of Ebionites. Nay, Peter himself seems to have observed for a considerable time the Jewish observances enjoined by the law of Moses, not having yet learned from Jesus to ascend from the law that is regulated according to the letter, to that which is interpreted according to the spirit,-a fact which we learn from the Acts of the Apostles. For on the day after the angel of God appeared to Cornelius, suggesting to him "to send to Joppa, to Simon surnamed Peter," Peter "went up into the upper room to pray about the sixth hour. And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth; wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts, and creeping things of the earth, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call thou not common."(4) Now observe how, by this instance, Peter is represented as still observing the Jewish customs respecting clean and unclean animals. And from the narrative that follows, it is manifest that he, as being yet a Jew, and living according to their traditions, and despising those who were beyond the pale of Judaism, stood in need of a vision to lead him to communicate to Cornelius (who was not an Israelite according to the flesh), and to those who were with him, the word of faith. Moreover, in the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul states that Peter, still from fear of the Jews, ceased upon the arrival of James to eat with the Gentiles, and "separated himself from them, fearing them that were of the circumcision; "(5) and the rest of the Jews, and Barnabas also, followed the same course. And certainly it was quite consistent that those should not abstain from the observance of Jewish usages who were sent to minister to the circumcision, when they who "seemed to be pillars" gave the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas, in order that, while devoting themselves to the circumcision, the latter might preach to the Gentiles. And why do I mention that they who preached to the circumcision withdrew and separated themselves from the heathen, when even Paul himself "became as a Jew to the Jews, that he might gain the Jews? "Wherefore also in the Acts of the Apostles it is related that he even brought an offering to the altar, that he might satisfy the Jews that he was no apostate from their law.(6) Now, if Celsus had been acquainted with all these circumstances, he would not have represented the Jew holding such language as this to the converts from Judaism: "What induced you, my fellow-citizens, to abandon the law of your fathers, and to allow your minds to be led captive by him with whom we have just conversed, and thus be most ridiculously deluded, so as to become deserters from us to another name, and to the practices of another life? "
Now, since we are upon the subject of Peter, and of the teachers of Christianity to the circumcision, I do not deem it out of place to quote a certain declaration of Jesus taken from the Gospel according to John, and to give the explanation of the same. For it is there related that Jesus said: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all the truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak."(7) And when we inquire what were the "many things" referred to in the passage which Jesus had to say to His disciples, but which they were not then able to bear, I have to observe that, probably because the apostles were Jews, and had been trained up according to the letter of the Mosaic law, He was unable to tell them what was the true law, and how the Jewish worship consisted in the pattern and shadow of certain heavenly things, and how future blessings were foreshadowed by the injunctions regarding meats and drinks, and festivals, and new moons, and sabbaths. These were many of the subjects which He had to explain to them; but as He saw that it was a work of exceeding difficulty to root out of the mind opinions that have been almost born with a man, and amid which he has been brought up till he reached the period of maturity, and which have produced in those who have adopted them the belief that they are divine, and that it is an act of impiety to overthrow them; and to demonstrate by the superiority of Christian doctrine, that is, by the truth, in a manner to convince the hearers, that such opinions were but "loss and dung," He postponed such a task to a future season-to that, namely, which followed His passion and resurrection. For the bringing of aid unseasonably to those who were not yet capable of receiving it, might have overturned the idea which they had already formed of Jesus, as the Christ, and the Son of the living God. And see if there is not some well-grounded reason for such a statement as this, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now; "seeing there are many points in the law which require to be explained and cleared up in a spiritual sense, and these the disciples were in a manner unable to bear, having been born and brought up amongst Jews. I am of opinion, moreover, that since these rites were typical, and the truth was that which was to be taught them by the Holy Spirit, these words were added, "When He is come who is the Spirit of truth, He will lead you into all the truth; "as if He had said, into all the truth about those things which, being to you but types, ye believed to constitute a true worship which ye rendered unto God. And so, according to the promise of Jesus, the Spirit of truth came to Peter, saying to him, with regard to the four-footed beasts, and creeping things of the earth, and fowls of the air: "Arise, Peter; kill, and eat." And the Spirit came to him while he was still in a state of superstitious ignorance; for he said, in answer to the divine command, "Not so Lord; for I have never yet eaten anything common or unclean." He instructed him, however, in the true and spiritual meaning of meats, by saying, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." And so, after that vision, the Spirit of truth, which conducted Peter into all the truth, told him the many things which he was unable to bear when Jesus was still with him in the flesh. But I shall have another opportunity of explaining those matters, which are connected with the literal acceptation of the Mosaic law.
Our present object, however, is to expose the ignorance of Celsus, who makes this Jew of his address his fellow-citizen and the Israelitish converts in the following manner: "What induced you to abandon the law of your fathers? "etc. Now, how should they have abandoned the law of their fathers, who are in the habit of rebuking those who do not listen to its commands, saying, "Tell me, ye who read the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons; "and so on, down to the place, "which things are an allegory,"(8) etc.? And how have they abandoned the law of their fathers, who are ever speaking of the usages of their fathers in such words as these: "Or does not the law say these things also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God care for oxen? or saith He it altogether for our sakes? for for our sakes it was written," and so on?(9) Now, how confused is the reasoning of the Jew in regard to these matters (although he had it in his power to speak with greater effect) when he says: "Certain among you have abandoned the usages of our fathers under a pretence of explanations and allegories; and some of you, although, as ye pretend, interpreting them in a spiritual manner, nevertheless do observe the customs of our fathers; and some of you, without any such interpretation, are willing to accept Jesus as the subject of prophecy, and to keep the law of Moses according to the customs of the fathers, as having in the words the whole mind of the Spirit." Now how was Celsus able to see these things so clearly in this place, when in the subsequent parts of his work he makes mention of certain godless heresies altogether alien from the doctrine of Jesus, and even of others which leave the Creator out of account altogether, and does not appear to know that there are Israelites who are converts to Christianity, and who have not abandoned the law of their fathers? It was not his object to investigate everything here in the spirit of truth, and to accept whatever he might find to be useful; but he composed these statements in the spirit of an enemy, and with a desire to overthrow everything as soon as he heard it.
The Jew, then, continues his address to converts from his own nation thus: "Yesterday and the day before, when we visited with punishment the man who deluded you, ye became apostates from the law of your fathers; "showing by such statements (as we have just demonstrated) anything but an exact knowledge of the truth. But what he advances afterwards seems to have some force, when he says: "How is it that you take the beginning of your system from our worship, and when you have made some progress you treat it with disrespect, although you have no other foundation to show for your doctrines than our law? "Now, certainly the introduction to Christianity is through the Mosaic worship and the prophetic writings; and after the introduction, it is in the interpretation and explanation of these that progress takes place, while those who are introduced prosecute their investigations into "the mystery according to revelation, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest in the Scriptures of the prophets,"(10) and by the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. But they who advance in the knowledge of Christianity do not, as ye allege, treat the things written in the law with disrespect. On the contrary, they bestow upon them greater honour, showing what a depth of wise and mysterious reasons is contained in these writings, which are not fully comprehended by the Jews, who treat them superficially, and as if they were in some degree even fabulous.(11) And what absurdity should there be in our system-that is, the Gospel-having the law for its foundation, when even the Lord Jesus Himself said to those who would not believe upon Him: "If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me. But if ye do not believe his writings, how shall ye believe My words? "(12) Nay, even one of the evangelists-Mark-says: "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee,"(13) which shows that the beginning of the Gospel is connected with the Jewish writings. What force, then, is there in the objection of the Jew of Celsus, that "if any one predicted to us that the Son of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our God? "Or how is it a charge against Christianity, that John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew? For although He was a Jew, it does not follow that every believer, whether a convert from heathenism or from Judaism, must yield a literal obedience to the law of Moses.
After these matters, although Celsus becomes tautological in his statements about Jesus, repeating for the second time that "he was punished by the Jews for his crimes," we shall not again take up the defence, being satisfied with what we have already said. But, in the next place, as this Jew of his disparages the doctrine regarding the resurrection of the dead, and the divine judgment, and of the rewards to be bestowed upon the just, and of the fire which is to devour the wicked, as being stale(14) opinions, and thinks that he will overthrow Christianity by asserting that there is nothing new in its teaching upon these points, we have to say to him, that our Lord, seeing the conduct of the Jews not to be at all in keeping with the teaching of the prophets, inculcated by a parable that the kingdom of God would be taken from them, and given to the converts from heathenism. For which reason, now, we may also see of a truth that all the doctrines of the Jews of the present day are mere trifles and fables,(15) since they have not the light that proceeds from the knowledge of the Scriptures; whereas those of the Christians are the truth, having power to raise and elevate the soul and understanding of man, and to persuade him to seek a citizenship, not like the earthly(16) Jews here below, but in heaven. And this result shows itself among those who are able to see the grandeur of the ideas contained in the law and the prophets, and who are able to commend them to others.
But let it be granted that Jesus observed all the Jewish usages, including even their sacrificial observances, what does that avail to prevent our recognising Him as the Son of God? Jesus, then, is the Son of God, who gave the law and the prophets; and we, who belong to the Church, do not transgress the law, but have escaped the mythologizings(17) of the Jews, and have our minds chastened and educated by the mystical contemplation of the law and the prophets. For the prophets themselves, as not resting the sense of these Words in the plain history which they relate, nor in the legal enactments taken according to the word and letter, express themselves somewhere, when about to relate histories, in words like this, "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hard sayings of old; "(18) and in another place, when offering up a prayer regarding the law as being obscure, and needing divine help for its comprehension, they offer up this prayer, "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."(19)
Moreover, let them show where there is to be found even the appearance of language dictated by arrogance(20) and proceeding from Jesus. For how could an arrogant man thus express himself "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls? "(21) or how can He be styled arrogant, who after supper laid aside His garments in the presence of His disciples, and, after girding Himself with a towel, and pouring water into a basin, proceeded to wash the feet of each disciple, and rebuked him who was unwilling to allow them to be washed, with the words, "Except I wash thee, thou hast no part with Me?(22) Or how could He be called such who said, "I was amongst you, not as he that sitteth at meat, but as he that serveth? "(23) And let any one show what were the falsehoods which He uttered, and let him point out what are great and what are small falsehoods, that he may prove Jesus to have been guilty of the former. And there is yet another way in which we may confute him. For as one falsehood is not less or more false than another, so one truth is not less or more true than another. And what charges of impiety he has to bring against Jesus, let the Jew of Celsus especially bring forward. Was it impious to abstain from corporeal circumcision, and from a literal Sabbath, and literal festivals, and literal new moons, and from clean and unclean meats, and to turn the mind to the good and true and spiritual law of God, while at the same time he who was an ambassador for Christ knew how to become to the Jews as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews, and to those who are under the law, as under the law, that he might gain those who are under the law?
He says, further, that "many other persons would appear such as Jesus was, to those who were willing to be deceived." Let this Jew of Celsus then show us, not many persons, nor even a few, but a single individual, such as Jesus was, introducing among the human race, with the power that was manifested in Him, a system of doctrine and opinions beneficial to human life, and which converts men from the practice of wickedness. He says, moreover, that this charge is brought against the Jews by the Christian converts, that they have not believed in Jesus as in God. Now on this point we have, in the preceding pages, offered a preliminary defence, showing at the same time in what respects we understand Him to be God, and in what we take Him to be man. "How should we," he continues, "who have made known to all men that there is to come from God one who is to punish the wicked, treat him with disregard when he came? "And to this, as an exceedingly silly argument, it does not seem to me reasonable to offer any answer. It is as if some one were to say, "How could we, who teach temperance, commit any act of licentiousness? or we, who are ambassadors for righteousness, be guilty of any wickedness? "For as these inconsistencies are found among men, so, to say that they believed the prophets when speaking of the future advent of Christ, and yet refused their belief to Him when He came, agreeably to prophetic statement, was quite in keeping with human nature. And since we must add another reason, we shall remark that this very result was foretold by the prophets. Isaiah distinctly declares: "Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for the heart of this people has become fat,"(24) etc. And let them explain why it was predicted to the Jews, that although they both heard and saw, they would not understand what was said, nor perceive what was seen as they ought. For it is indeed manifest, that when they beheld Jesus they did not see who He was; and when they heard Him, they did not understand from His words the divinity that was in Him, and which transferred God's providential care, hitherto exercised over the Jews, to His converts from the heathen. Therefore we may see, that after the advent of Jesus the Jews were altogether abandoned, and possess now none of what were considered their ancient glories, so that there is no indication of any Divinity abiding amongst them. For they have no longer prophets nor miracles, traces of which to a considerable extent are still found among Christians, and some of them more remarkable than any that existed among the Jews; and these we ourselves have witnessed, if our testimony may be received.(25) But the Jew of Celsus exclaims: "Why did we treat him, whom we announced beforehand, with dishonour? Was it that we might be chastised more than others? "To which we have to answer, that on account of their unbelief, and the other insults which they heaped upon Jesus, the Jews will not only suffer more than others in that judgment which is believed to impend over the world, but have even already endured such sufferings. For what nation is an exile from their own metropolis, and from the place sacred to the worship of their fathers, save the Jews alone? And these calamities they have suffered, because they were a most wicked nation, which, although guilty of many other sins, yet has been punished so severely for none, as for those that were committed against our Jesus.
The Jew continues his discourse thus: "How should we deem him to be a God, who not only in other respects, as was currently reported, performed none of his promises, but who also, after we had convicted him, and condemned him as. deserving of punishment, was found attempting to conceal himself, and endeavouring to escape in a most disgraceful manner, and who was betrayed by those whom he called disciples? And yet," he continues, "he who was a God could neither flee nor be led away a prisoner; and least of all could he be deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, and had shared all things in common, and had had him for their teacher, who was deemed to be a Saviour, and a son of the greatest God, and an angel." To which we reply, that even we do not suppose the body of Jesus, which was then an object of sight and perception, to have been God. And why do I say His body? Nay, not even His soul, of which it is related, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."(26) But as, according to the Jewish manner of speaking, "I am the Lord, the God of all flesh," and, "Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me," God is believed to be He who employs the soul and body of the prophet as an instrument; and as, according to the Greeks, he who says,
"I know both the number of the sand, and the measures, of the sea,
And I understand a dumb man, and hear him who does not speak,"
(27) is considered to be a god when speaking, and making himself heard through the Pythian priestess; so, according to our view, it was the Logos God, and Son of the God of all things, who spake in Jesus these words, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; "and these, "I am the door; "and these, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; "and other expressions similar to these. We therefore charge the Jews with not acknowledging Him to be God, to whom testimony was borne in many passages by the prophets, to the effect that He was a mighty power, and a God next to(28) the God and Father of all things. For we assert that it was to Him the Father gave the command, when in the Mosaic account of the creation He uttered the words, "Let there be light," and "Let there be a firmament," and gave the injunctions with regard to those other creative acts which were performed; and that to Him also were addressed the words, "Let Us make man in Our own image and likeness; "and that the Logos, when commanded, obeyed all the Father's will. And we make these statements not from our own conjectures, but because we believe the prophecies circulated among the Jews, in which it is said of God, and of the works of creation, in express words, as follows: "He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created."(29) Now if God gave the command, and the creatures were formed, who, according to the view of the spirit of prophecy, could He be that was able to carry out such commands of the Father, save Him who, so to speak, is the living Logos and the Truth? And that the Gospels do not consider him who in Jesus said these words, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life," to have been of so circumscribed a nature(30) as to have an existence nowhere out of the soul and body of Jesus, is evident both from many considerations, and from a few instances of the following kind which we shall quote. John the Baptist, when predicting that the Son of God was to appear immediately, not in that body and soul, but as manifesting Himself everywhere, says regarding Him: "There stands in the midst of you One whom ye know not, who cometh after me."(31) For if he had thought that the Son of God was only there, where was the visible body of Jesus, how could he have said, "There stands in the midst of you One whom ye know not? "And Jesus Himself, in raising the minds of His disciples to higher thoughts of the Son of God, says: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of you."(32) And of the same nature is His promise to His disciples: "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world."(33) And we quote these passages, making no distinction between the Son of God and Jesus. For the soul and body of Jesus formed, after the oi0konomi/a, one being with the Logos of God. Now if, according to Paul's teaching, "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit,"(34) every one who understands what being joined to the Lord is, and who has been actually joined to Him, is one spirit with the Lord; how should not that being be one in a far greater and more divine degree, which was once united with the Logos of God?(35) He, indeed, manifested Himself among the Jews as the power of God, by the miracles which He performed, which Celsus suspected were accomplished by sorcery, but which by the Jews of that time were attributed I know not why, to Beelzebub, in the words "He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils."(36) But these our Saviour convicted of uttering the greatest absurdities, from the fact that the kingdom of evil was not yet come to an end. And this will be evident to all intelligent readers of the Gospel narrative, which it is not now the time to explain.
But what promise did Jesus make which He did not perform? Let Celsus produce any instance of such, and make good his charge. But he will be unable to do so, especially since it is from mistakes, arising either from misapprehension of the Gospel narratives, or from Jewish stories, that he thinks to derive the charges which he brings against Jesus or against ourselves. Moreover, again, when the Jew says, "We both found him guilty, and condemned him as deserving of death," let them show how they who sought to concoct false witness against Him proved Him to be guilty. Was not the great charge against Jesus, which His accusers brought forward, this, that He said, "I am able to destroy the temple of God, and after three days to raise it up again? "(37) But in so saying, He spake of the temple of His body; while they thought, not being able to understand the meaning of the speaker, that His reference was to the temple of stone, which was treated by the Jews with greater respect than He was who ought to have been honoured as the true Temple of God-the Word, and the Wisdom, and the Truth. And who can say that "Jesus attempted to make His escape by disgracefully concealing Himself? "Let any one point to an act deserving to be called disgraceful. And when he adds, "he was taken prisoner," I would say that, if to be taken prisoner implies an act done against one's will, then Jesus was not taken prisoner; for at the fitting time He did not prevent Himself falling into the hands of men, as the Lamb of God, that He might take away the sin of the world. For, knowing all things that were to come upon Him, He went forth, and said to them, "Whom seek ye? "and they answered, "Jesus of Nazareth; "and He said unto them, "I am He." And Judas also, who betrayed Him, was standing with them. When, therefore, He had said to them, "I am He," they went backwards and fell to the ground. Again He asked them, "Whom seek ye? "and they said again, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I told you I am He; if then ye seek Me, let these go away."(38) Nay, even to Him who wished to help Him, and who smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his ear, He said: "Put up thy sword into its sheath: for all they who draw the sword shall perish by the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot even now pray to My Father, and He will presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"(39) And if any one imagines these statements to be inventions of the writers of the Gospels, why should not those statements rather be regarded as inventions which proceeded from a spirit of hatred and hostility against Jesus and the Christians? and these the truth, which proceed from those who manifest the sincerity of their feelings towards Jesus, by enduring everything, whatever it may be, for the sake of His words? For the reception by the disciples of such power of endurance and resolution continued even to death, with a disposition of mind that would not invent regarding their Teacher what was not true, is a very evident proof to all candid judges that they were fully persuaded of the truth of what they wrote, seeing they submitted to trials so numerous and so severe, for the sake of Him whom they believed to be the Son of God.
In the next place, that He was betrayed by those whom He called His disciples, is a circumstance which the Jew of Celsus learned from the Gospels; calling the one Judas, however, "many disciples," that he might seem to add force to the accusation. Nor did he trouble himself to take note of all that is related concerning Judas; how this Judas, having come to entertain opposite and conflicting opinions regarding his Master neither opposed Him with his whole soul, nor yet with his whole soul preserved the respect due by a pupil to his teacher. For be that betrayed Him gave to the multitude that came to apprehend Jesus, a sign, saying, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, it is he; seize ye him,"-retaining still some element of respect for his Master: for unless he had done so, he would have betrayed Him, even publicly, without any pretence of affection. This circumstance, therefore, will satisfy all with regard to the purpose of Judas, that along with his covetous disposition, and his wicked design to betray his Master, he had still a feeling of a mixed character in his mind, produced in him by the words of Jesus, which had the appearance (so to speak) of some remnant of good. For it is related that, "when Judas, who betrayed Him, knew that He was condemned, he repented, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the high priest and elders, saying, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. But they said, What is that to us? see thou to that; "(40) -and that, having thrown the money down in the temple, he departed, and went and hanged himself. But if this covetous Judas, who also stole the money placed in the bag for the relief of the poor, repented, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, it is clear that the instructions of Jesus had been able to produce some feeling of repentance in his mind, and were not altogether despised and loathed by this traitor. Nay, the declaration, "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood," was a public acknowledgment of his crime. Observe, also, how exceedingly passionate(41) was the sorrow for his sins that proceeded from that repentance, and which would not suffer him any longer to live; and how, after he had cast the money down in the temple, he withdrew, and went away and hanged himself: for he passed sentence upon himself, showing what a power the teaching of Jesus had over this sinner Judas, this thief and traitor, who could not always treat with contempt what he had learned from Jesus. Will Celsus and his friends now say that those proofs which show that the apostasy of Judas was not a complete apostasy, even after his attempts against his Master, are inventions, and that this alone is true, viz., that one of His disciples betrayed Him; and will they add to the Scriptural account that he betrayed Him also with his whole heart? To act in this spirit of hostility with the same writings, both as to what we are to believe and what we are not to believe, is absurd.(42) And if we must make a statement regarding Judas which may overwhelm our opponents with shame, we would say that, in the book of Psalms, the whole of the Psalms 108 contains a prophecy about Judas, the beginning of which is this: "O God, hold not Thy peace before my praise; for the mouth of the sinner, and the mouth of the crafty man, are opened against me."(43) And it is predicted in this psalm, both that Judas separated himself from the number of the apostles on account of his sins, and that another was selected in his place; and this is shown by the words: "And his bishopric let another take."(44) But suppose now that He had been betrayed by some one of His disciples, who was possessed by a worse spirit than Judas, and who had completely poured out, as it were, all the words which he had heard from Jesus, what would this contribute to an accusation against Jesus or the Christian religion? And how will this demonstrate its doctrine to be false? We have replied in the preceding chapter to the statements which follow this, showing that Jesus was not taken prisoner when attempting to flee, but that He gave Himself up voluntarily for the sake of us all. Whence it follows, that even if He were bound, He was bound agreeably to His own will; thus teaching us the lesson that we should undertake similar things for the sake of religion in no spirit of unwillingness.
And the following appear to me to be childish assertions, viz., that "no good general and leader of great multitudes was ever betrayed; nor even a wicked captain of robbers and commander of very wicked men, who seemed to be of any use to his associates; but Jesus, having been betrayed by his subordinates, neither governed like a good general, nor, after deceiving his disciples, produced in the minds of the victims of his deceit that feeling of good-will which, so to speak, would be manifested towards a brigand chief." Now one might find many accounts of generals who were betrayed by their own soldiers, and of robber chiefs who were captured through the instrumentality of those who did not keep their bargains with them. But grant that no general or robber chief was ever betrayed, what does that contribute to the establishment of the fact as a charge against Jesus, that one of His disciples became His betrayer? And since Celsus makes an ostentatious exhibition of philosophy, I would ask of him, If, then, it was a charge against Plato, that Aristotle, after being his pupil for twenty years, went away and assailed his doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and styled the ideas of Plato the merest trifling?(45) And if I were still in doubt, I would continue thus: Was Plato no longer mighty in dialectics, nor able to defend his views, after Aristotle had taken his departure; and, on that account, are the opinions of Plato false? Or may it not be, that while Plato is true, as the pupils of his philosophy would maintain, Aristotle was guilty of wickedness and ingratitude towards his teacher? Nay, Chrysippus also, in many places of his writings, appears to assail Cleanthes, introducing novel opinions opposed to his views, although the latter had been his teacher when he was a young man, and began the study of philosophy. Aristotle, indeed, is said to have been Plato's pupil for twenty years, and no inconsiderable period was spent by Chrysippus in the school of Cleanthes; while Judas did not remain so much as three years with Jesus.(46) But from the narratives of the lives of philosophers we might take many instances similar to those on which Celsus founds a charge against Jesus on account of Judas. Even the Pythagoreans erected cenotaphs(47) to those who, after betaking themselves to philosophy, fell back again into their ignorant mode of life; and yet neither was Pythagoras nor his followers, on that account, weak in argument and demonstration.
This Jew of Celsus continues, after the above, in the following fashion: "Although he could state many things regarding the events of the life of Jesus which are true, and not like those which are recorded by the disciples, he willingly omits them." What, then, are those true statements, unlike the accounts in the Gospels, which the Jew of Celsus passes by without mention? Or is he only employing what appears to be a figure of speech,(48) in pretending to have something to say, while in reality he had nothing to produce beyond the Gospel narrative which could impress the hearer with a feeling of its truth, and furnish a clear ground of accusation against Jesus and His doctrine? And he charges the disciples with having invented the statement that Jesus foreknew and foretold all that happened to Him; but the truth of this statement we shall establish, although Celsus may not like it, by means of many other predictions uttered by the Saviour, in which He foretold what would befall the Christians in after generations. And who is there who would not be astonished at this prediction: "Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles; "(49) and at any others which He may have delivered respecting the future persecution of His disciples? For what system of opinions ever existed among men on account of which others are punished, so that any one of the accusers of Jesus could say that, foreseeing the impiety or falsity of his opinions to be the ground of an accusation against them he thought that this would redound to his credit, that he had so predicted regarding it long before? Now if any deserve to be brought, on account of their opinions, before governors and kings, what others are they, save the Epicureans, who altogether deny the existence of providence? And also the Peripatetics, who say that prayers are of no avail, and sacrifices offered as to the Divinity? But some one will say that the Samaritans suffer persecution because of their religion. In answer to whom we shall state that the Sicarians,(50) on account of the practice of circumcision, as mutilating themselves contrary to the established laws and the customs permitted to the Jews alone, are put to death. And you never hear a judge inquiring whether a Sicarian who strives to live according to this established religion of his will be released from punishment if he apostatizes, but will be led away to death if he continues firm; for the evidence of the circumcision is sufficient to ensure the death of him who has undergone it. But Christians alone, according to the prediction of their Saviour, "Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake," are urged up to their last breath by their judges to deny Christianity, and to sacrifice according to the public customs; and after the oath of abjuration, to return to their homes, and to live in safety. And observe whether it is not with great authority that this declaration is uttered: "Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father who is in heaven. And whosoever shall deny Me before men,"(51) etc. And go back with me in thought to Jesus when He uttered these words, and see His predictions not yet accomplished. Perhaps you will say, in a spirit of incredulity, that he is talking folly, and speaking to no purpose, for his words will have no fulfilment; or, being in doubt about assenting to his words, you will say, that if these predictions be fulfilled, and the doctrine of Jesus be established, so that governors and kings think of destroying those who acknowledge Jesus, then we shall believe that he utters these prophecies as one who has received great power from God to implant this doctrine among the human race, and as believing that it will prevail. And who will not be filled with wonder, when he goes back in thought to Him who then taught and said, "This Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles,"(52) and beholds, agreeably to His words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached in the whole world under heaven to Greeks and Barbarians, wise and foolish alike? For the word, spoken with power, has gained the mastery over men of all sorts of nature, and it is impossible to see any race of men which has escaped accepting the teaching of Jesus. But let this Jew of Celsus, who does not believe that He foreknew all that happened to Him, consider how, while Jerusalem was still standing, and the whole Jewish worship celebrated in it, Jesus foretold what would befall it from the hand of the Romans. For they will not maintain that the acquaintances and pupils of Jesus Himself handed down His teaching contained in the Gospels without committing it to writing, and left His disciples without the memoirs of Jesus contained in their works.(53) Now in these it is recorded, that "when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then shall ye know that the desolation thereof is nigh."(54) But at that time there were no armies around Jerusalem, encompassing and enclosing and besieging it; for the siege began in the reign of Nero, and lasted till the government of Vespasian, whose son Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, as Josephus says, of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, but in reality, as the truth makes dear, on account of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Celsus, however, accepting or granting that Jesus foreknew what would befall Him, might think to make light of the admission, as he did in the case of the miracles, when he alleged that they were wrought by means of sorcery; for he might say that many persons by means of divination, either by auspices, or auguries, or sacrifices, or nativities, have come to the knowledge of what was to happen. But this concession he would not make, as being too great a one; and although he somehow granted that Jesus worked miracles, he thought to weaken the force of this by the charge of sorcery. Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events (although falling into confusion about some things which refer to Peter, as if they referred to Jesus), but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions. So that he also, by these very admissions regarding foreknowledge, as if against his will, expressed his opinion that the doctrines taught by the fathers of our system were not devoid of divine power.
Celsus continues: "The disciples of Jesus, having no undoubted fact on which to rely, devised the fiction that he foreknew everything before it happened; "not observing, or not wishing to observe, the love of truth which actuated the writers, who acknowledged that Jesus had told His disciples beforehand, "All ye shall be offended because of Me this night,"-a statement which was fulfilled by their all being offended; and that He predicted to Peter, "Before the cock crow, thou shall deny Me thrice," which was followed by Peter's threefold denial. Now if they had not been lovers of truth, but, as Celsus supposes, inventors of fictions, they would not have represented Peter as denying, nor His disciples as being offended. For although these events actually happened, who could have proved that they turned out in that manner? And yet, according to all probability, these were matters which ought to have been passed over in silence by men who wished to teach the readers of the Gospels to despise death for the sake of confessing Christianity. But now, seeing that the word, by its power, will gain the mastery over men, they related those facts which they have done, and which, I know not how, were neither to do any harm to their readers, nor to afford any pretext for denial.
Exceedingly weak is his assertion, that "the disciples of Jesus wrote such accounts regarding him, by way of extenuating the charges that told against him: as if," he says, "any one were to say that a certain person was a just man, and yet were to show that he was guilty of injustice; or that he was pious, and yet had committed murder; or that he was immortal, and yet was dead; subjoining to all these statements the remark that he had foretold all these things." Now his illustrations are at once seen to be inappropriate; for there is no absurdity in Him who had resolved that He would become a living pattern to men, as to the manner in which they were to regulate their lives, showing also how they ought to die for the sake of their religion, apart altogether from the fact that His death on behalf of men was a benefit to the whole world, as we proved in the preceding book. He imagines, moreover, that the whole of the confession of the Saviour's sufferings confirms his objection instead of weakening it. For he is not acquainted either with the philosophical remarks of Paul,(55) or the statements of the prophets, on this subject. And it escaped him that certain heretics have declared that Jesus underwent His sufferings in appearance, not in reality. For had he known, he would not have said: "For ye do not even allege this, that he seemed to wicked men to suffer this punishment, though not undergoing it in reality; but, on the contrary, ye acknowledge that he openly suffered." But we do not view His sufferings as having been merely in appearance, in order that His resurrection also may not be a false, but a real event. For he who really died, actually arose, if he did arise; whereas he who appeared only to have died, did not in reality arise. But since the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a subject of mockery to unbelievers, we shall quote the words of Plato,(56) that Erus the son of Armenius rose from the funeral pile twelve days after he had been laid upon it, and gave an account of what he had seen in Hades; and as we are replying to unbelievers, it will not be altogether useless to refer in this place to what Heraclides(57) relates respecting the woman who was deprived of life. And many persons are recorded to have risen from their tombs, not only on the day of their burial, but also on the day following. What wonder is it, then, if in the case of One who performed many marvellous things, both beyond the power of man and with such fulness of evidence, that he who could not deny their performance, endeavoured to calumniate them by comparing them to acts of sorcery, should have manifested also in His death some greater display of divine power, so that His soul, if it pleased, might leave its body, and having performed certain offices out of it, might return again at pleasure? And such a declaration is Jesus said to have made in the Gospel of John, when He said: "No man taketh My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."(58) And perhaps it was on this account that He hastened His departure from the body, that He might preserve it, and that His legs might not be broken, as were those of the robbers who were crucified with Him. "For the soldiers brake the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him; but when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead, they brake not His legs."(59) We have accordingly answered the question," How is it credible that Jesus could have predicted these things? "And with respect to this, "How could the dead man be immortal? "let him who wishes to understand know, that it is not the dead man who is immortal, but He who rose from the dead. So far, indeed, was the dead man from being immortal, that even the Jesus before His decease-the compound being, who was to suffer death-was not immortal.(60) For no one is immortal who is destined to die; but he is immortal when he shall no longer be subject to death. But "Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over Him; "(61) although those may be unwilling to admit this who cannot understand how such things should be said.
Extremely foolish also is his remark, "What god, or spirit, or prudent man would not, on foreseeing that such events were to befall him, avoid them if he could; whereas he threw himself headlong into those things which he knew beforehand were to happen? "And yet Socrates knew that he would die after drinking the hemlock, and it was in his power, if he had allowed himself to be persuaded by Crito, by escaping from prison, to avoid these calamities; but nevertheless he decided, as it appeared to him consistent with fight reason, that it was better for him to die as became a philosopher, than to retain his life in a manner unbecoming one. Leonidas also, the Lacedaemonian general, knowing that he was on the point of dying with his followers at Thermopylae, did not make any effort to preserve his life by disgraceful means but said to his companions, "Let us go to breakfast, as we shall sup in Hades." And those who are interested in collecting stories of this kind will find numbers of them. Now, where is the wonder if Jesus, knowing all things that were to happen, did not avoid them, but encountered what He foreknew; when Paul, His own disciple, having heard what would befall him when he went up to Jerusalem, proceeded to face the danger, reproaching those who were weeping around him, and endeavouring to prevent him from going up to Jerusalem? Many also of our contemporaries, knowing well that if they made a confession of Christianity they would be put to death, but that if they denied it they would be liberated, and their property restored, despised life, and voluntarily selected death for the sake of their religion.
After this the Jew makes another silly remark, saying, "How is it that, if Jesus pointed out beforehand both the traitor and the perjurer, they did not fear him as a God, and cease, the one from his intended treason, and the other from his perjury? "Here the learned Celsus did not see the contradiction in his statement: for if Jesus foreknew events as a God, then it was impossible for His foreknowledge to prove untrue; and therefore it was impossible for him who was known to Him as going to betray Him not to execute his purpose, nor for him who was rebuked as going to deny Him not to have been guilty of that crime. For if it had been possible for the one to abstain from the act of betrayal, and the other from that of denial, as having been warned of the consequences of these actions beforehand, then His words were no longer true, who predicted that the one would betray Him and the other deny Him. For if He had foreknowledge of the traitor, He knew the wickedness in which the treason originated, and this wickedness was by no means taken away by the foreknowledge. And, again, if He had ascertained that one would deny Him, He made that prediction from seeing the weakness out of which that act of denial would arise, and yet this weakness was not to be taken away thus at once(62) by the foreknowledge. But whence he derived the statement, "that these persons betrayed and denied him without manifesting any concern about him," I know not; for it was proved, with respect to the traitor, that it is false to say that he betrayed his master without an exhibition of anxiety regarding Him. And this was shown to be equally true of him who denied Him; for he went out, after the denial, and wept bitterly.
Superficial also is his objection, that "it is always the case when a man against whom a plot is formed, and who comes to the knowledge of it, makes known to the conspirators that he is acquainted with their design, that the latter are turned from their purpose, and keep upon their guard." For many have continued to plot even against those who were acquainted with their plans. And then, as if bringing his argument to a conclusion, he says: "Not because these things were predicted did they come to pass, for that is impossible; but since they have come to pass, their being predicted is shown to be a falsehood: for it is altogether impossible that those who heard beforehand of the discovery of their designs, should carry out their plans of betrayal and denial!" But if his premises are overthrown, then his conclusion also falls to the ground, viz., "that we are not to believe, because these things were predicted, that they have come to pass." Now we maintain that they not only came to pass as being possible, but also that, because they came to pass, the fact of their being predicted is shown to be true; for the truth regarding future events is judged of by results. It is false, therefore, as asserted by him, that the prediction of these events is proved to be untrue; and it is to no purpose that he says, "It is altogether impossible for those who heard beforehand that their designs were discovered, to carry out their plans of betrayal and denial."
Let us see how he continues after this: "These events," he says, "he predicted as being a God, and the prediction must by all means come to pass. God, therefore, who above all others ought to do good to men, and especially to those of his own household, led on his own disciples and prophets, with whom he was in the habit of eating and drinking, to such a degree of wickedness, that they became impious and unholy men. Now, of a truth, he who shared a man's table would not be guilty of conspiring against him; but after banqueting with God, he became a conspirator. And, what is still more absurd, God himself plotted against the members of his own table, by converting them into traitors and villains!" Now, since you wish me to answer even those charges of Celsus which seem to me frivolous,(63) the following is our reply to such statements. Celsus imagines that an event, predicted through foreknowledge, comes to pass because it was predicted; but we do not grant this, maintaining that he who foretold it was not the cause of its happening, because he foretold it would happen; but the future event itself, which would have taken place though not predicted, afforded the occasion to him, who was endowed with foreknowledge, of foretelling its occurrence. Now, certainly this result is present to the foreknowledge of him who predicts an event, when it is possible that it may or may not happen, viz., that one or other of these things will take place. For we do not assert that he who foreknows an event, by secretly taking away the possibility of its happening or not, makes any such declaration as this: "This shall infallibly happen, and it is impossible that it can be otherwise." And this remark applies to all the foreknowledge of events dependent upon ourselves, whether contained in the sacred Scriptures or in the histories of the Greeks. Now, what is called by logicians an" idle argument,"(64) which is a sophism, will be no sophism as far as Celsus can help, but according to sound reasoning it is a sophism. And that this may be seen, I shall take from the Scriptures the predictions regarding Judas, or the foreknowledge of our Saviour regarding him as the traitor; and from the Greek histories the oracle that was given to Laius, conceding for the present its truth, since it does not affect the argument. Now, in Ps. cviii., Judas is spoken of by the mouth of the Saviour, in words beginning thus: "Hold not Thy peace, O God of my praise; for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me." Now, if you carefully observe the contents of the psalm, you will find that, as it was foreknown that he would betray the Saviour, so also was he considered to be himself the cause of the betrayal, and deserving, on account of his wickedness, of the imprecations contained in the prophecy. For let him suffer these things," because," says the psalmist, "he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man." Wherefore it was possible for him to show mercy, and not to persecute him whom he did persecute. But although he might have done these things, he did not do them, but carried out the act of treason, so as to merit the curses pronounced against him in the prophecy.
And in answer to the Greeks we shall quote the following oracular response to Laius, as recorded by the tragic poet, either in the exact words of the oracle or in equivalent terms. Future events are thus made known to him by the oracle: "Do not try to beget children against the will of the gods. For if you beget a son, your son shall murder you; and all your household shall wade in blood."(65) Now from this it is clear that it was within the power of Laius not to try to beget children, for the oracle would not have commanded an impossibility; and it was also in his power to do the opposite, so that neither of these courses was compulsory. And the consequence of his not guarding against the begetting of children was, that he suffered from so doing the calamities described in the tragedies relating to (Edipus and Jocasta and their sons. Now that which is called the "idle argument," being a quibble, is such as might be applied, say in the case of a sick man, with the view of sophistically preventing him from employing a physician to promote his recovery; and it is something like this: "If it is decreed that you should recover from your disease, you will recover whether you call in a physician or not; but if it is decreed that you should not recover, you will not recover whether you call in a physician or no. But it is certainly decreed either that you should recover, or that you should not recover; and therefore it is in vain that you call in a physician." Now with this argument the following may be wittily compared: "If it is decreed that you should beget children, you will beget them, whether you have intercourse with a woman or not. But if it is decreed that you should not beget children, you will not do so, whether you have intercourse with a woman or no. Now, certainly, it is decreed either that you should beget children or not; therefore it is in vain that you have intercourse with a woman." For, as in the latter instance, intercourse with a woman is not employed in vain, seeing it is an utter impossibility for him who does not use it to beget children; so, in the former, if recovery from disease is to be accomplished by means of the healing art, of necessity the physician is summoned, and it is therefore false to say that "in vain do you call in a physician." We have brought forward all these illustrations on account of the assertion of this learned Celsus, that "being a God He predicted these things, and the predictions must by all means come to pass." Now, if by "by all means" he means "necessarily," we cannot admit this. For it was quite possible, also, that they might not come to pass. But if he uses "by all means" in the sense of "simple futurity,"(66) which nothing hinders from being true (although it was possible that they might not happen), he does not at all touch my argument; nor did it follow, from Jesus having predicted the acts of the traitor or the perjurer, that it was the same thing with His being the cause of such impious and unholy proceedings. For He who was amongst us, and knew what was in man, seeing his evil disposition, and foreseeing what he would attempt from his spirit of covetousness, and from his want of stable ideas of duty towards his Master, along with many other declarations, gave utterance to this also: "He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me."(67)
Observe also the superficiality and manifest falsity of such a statement of Celsus, when he asserts "that he who was partaker of a man's table would not conspire against him; and if he would not conspire against a man, much less would he plot against a God after banqueting with him." For who does not know that many persons, after partaking of the salt on the table,(68) have entered into a conspiracy against their entertainers? The whole of Greek and Barbarian history is full of such instances. And the Iambic poet of Paros,(69) when upbraiding Lycambes with having violated covenants confirmed by the salt of the table, says to him:-
"But thou hast broken a mighty oath-that, viz., by the salt of the table."And they who are interested in historical learning, and who give themselves wholly to it, to the neglect of other branches of knowledge more necessary for the conduct of life,(70) can quote numerous instances, showing that they who shared in the hospitality of others entered into conspiracies against them.
He adds to this, as if he had brought together an argument with conclusive demonstrations and consequences, the following: "And, which is still more absurd, God himself conspired against those who sat at his table, by converting them into traitors and impious men." But how Jesus could either conspire or convert His disciples into traitors or impious men, it would be impossible for him to prove, save by means of such a deduction as any one could refute with the greatest ease.
He continues in this strain: "If he had determined upon these things, and underwent chastisement in obedience to his Father, it is manifest that, being a God, and submitting voluntarily, those things that were done agreeably to his own decision were neither painful nor distressing." But he did not observe that here he was at once contradicting himself. For if he granted that He was chastised because He had determined upon these things, and had submitted Himself to His Father, it is clear that He actually suffered punishment, and it was impossible that what was inflicted on Him by His chastisers should not be painful, because pain is an involuntary thing. But if, because He was willing to suffer, His inflictions were neither painful nor distressing, how did He grant that "He was chastised? "He did not perceive that when Jesus had once, by His birth, assumed a body, He assumed one which was capable both of suffering pains, and those distresses incidental to humanity, if we are to understand by distresses what no one voluntarily chooses. Since, therefore, He voluntarily assumed a body, not wholly of a different nature from that of human flesh, so along with His body He assumed also its sufferings and distresses, which it was not in His power to avoid enduring, it being in the power of those who inflicted them to send upon Him things distressing and painful. And in the preceding pages we have already shown, that He would not have come into the hands of men had He not so willed. But He did come, because He was willing to come, and because it was manifest beforehand that His dying upon behalf of men would be of advantage to the whole human race.
After this, wishing to prove that the occurrences which befell Him were painful and distressing, and that it was impossible for Him, had He wished, to render them otherwise, he proceeds: "Why does he mourn, and lament, and pray to escape the fear of death, expressing himself in terms like these: `O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me? '"(71) Now in these words observe the malignity of Celsus, how not accepting the love of truth which actuates the writers of the Gospels (who might have passed over in silence those points which, as Celsus thinks, are censurable, but who did not omit them for many reasons, which any one, in expounding the Gospel, can give in their proper place), he brings an accusation against the Gospel statement, grossly exaggerating the facts, and quoting what is not written in the Gospels, seeing it is nowhere found that Jesus lamented. And he changes the words in the expression, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me," and does not give what follows immediately after, which manifests at once the ready obedience of Jesus to His Father, and His greatness of mind, and which runs thus: "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt."(72) Nay, even the cheerful obedience of Jesus to the will of His Father in those things which He was condemned to suffer, exhibited in the declaration, "If this cup cannot pass from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done," he pretends not to have observed, acting here like those wicked individuals who listen to the Holy Scriptures in a malignant spirit, and "who talk wickedness with lofty head." For they appear to have heard the declaration, "I kill,"(73) and they often make it to us a subject of reproach; but the words, "I will make alive," they do not remember,-the whole sentence showing that those who live amid public wickedness, and who work wickedly, are put to death by God, and that a better life is infused into them instead, even one which God will give to those who have died to sin. And so also these men have heard the words, "I will smite; "but they do not see these, "and I will heal," which are like the words of a physician, who cuts bodies asunder, and inflicts severe wounds, in order to extract from them substances that are injurious and prejudicial to health, and who does not terminate his work with pains and lacerations, but by his treatment restores the body to that state of soundness which he has in view. Moreover, they have not heard the whole of the announcement, "For He maketh sore, and again bindeth up; "but only this part, "He maketh sore." So in like manner acts this Jew of Celsus who quotes the words, "O Father, would that this cup might pass from Me; "but who does not add what follows, and which exhibits the firmness of Jesus, and His preparedness for suffering. But these matters, which afford great room for explanation from the wisdom of God, and which may reasonably be pondered over(74) by those whom Paul calls "perfect" when he said, "We speak wisdom among them who are perfect,"(75) we pass by for the present, and shall speak for a little of those matters which are useful for our present purpose.
We have mentioned in the preceding pages that there are some of the declarations of Jesus which refer to that Being in Him which was the "first-born of every creature," such as, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life," and such like; and others, again, which belong to that in Him which is understood to be man, such as, "But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth which I have heard of the Father."(76) And here, accordingly, he describes the element of weakness belonging to human flesh, and that of readiness of spirit which existed in His humanity: the element of weakness in the expression, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; "the readiness of the spirit in this, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." And since it is proper to observe the order of our quotations, observe that, in the first place, there is mentioned only the single instance, as one would say, indicating the weakness of the flesh; and afterwards those other instances, greater in number, manifesting the willingness of the spirit. For the expression, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me," is only one: whereas more numerous are those others, viz., "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt; "and, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done." It is to be noted also, that the words are not, "let this cup depart from Me; "but that the whole expression is marked by a tone of piety and reverence, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." I know, indeed, that there is another explanation of this passage to the following effect:-The Saviour, foreseeing the sufferings which the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem were to undergo in requital of the wicked deeds which the Jews had dared to perpetrate upon Him, from no other motive than that of the purest philanthropy towards them, and from a desire that they might escape the impending calamities, gave utterance to the prayer, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." It is as if He had said, "Because of My drinking this cup of punishment, the whole nation will be forsaken by Thee, I pray, if it be possible, that this cup may pass from Me, in order that Thy portion, which was guilty of such crimes against Me, may not be altogether deserted by Thee." But if, as Celsus would allege, "nothing at that time was done to Jesus which was either painful or distressing," how could men afterwards quote the example of Jesus as enduring sufferings for the sake of religion, if He did not suffer what are human sufferings, but only had the appearance of so doing?
This Jew of Celsus still accuses the disciples of Jesus of having invented these statements saying to them: "Even although guilty of falsehood, ye have not been able to give a colour of credibility to your inventions." In answer to which we have to say, that there was an easy method of concealing these occurrences,-that, viz., of not recording them at all. For if the Gospels had not contained the accounts of these things, who could have reproached us with Jesus having spoken such words during His stay upon the earth? Celsus, indeed, did not see that it was an inconsistency for the same persons both to be deceived regarding Jesus, believing Him to be God, and the subject of prophecy, and to invent fictions about Him, knowing manifestly that these statements were false. Of a truth, therefore, they were not guilty of inventing untruths, but such were their real impressions, and they recorded them truly; or else they were guilty of falsifying the histories, and did not entertain these views, and were not deceived when they acknowledged Him to be God.
After this he says, that certain of the Christian believers, like persons who in a fit of drunkenness lay violent hands upon themselves, have corrupted the Gospel from its original integrity, to a threefold, and fourfold, and many-fold degree, and have remodelled it, so that they might be able to answer objections. Now I know of no others who have altered the Gospel, save the. followers of Marcion, and those of Valentinus, and, I think, also those of Lucian. But such an allegation is no charge against the Christian system, but against those who dared so to trifle with the Gospels. And as it is no ground of accusation against philosophy, that there exist Sophists, or Epicureans, or Peripatetics, or any others, whoever they may be, who hold false opinions; so neither is it against genuine Christianity that there are some who corrupt the Gospel histories, and who introduce heresies opposed to the meaning of the doctrine of Jesus.
And since this Jew of Celsus makes it a subject of reproach that Christians should make use of the prophets, who predicted the events of Christ's life, we have to say, in addition to what we have already advanced upon this head, that it became him to spare individuals, as he says, and to expound the prophecies themselves, and after admitting the probability of the Christian interpretation of them, to show how the use which they make of them may be overturned.(77) For in this way he would not appear hastily to assume so important a position on small grounds, and particularly when he asserts that the "prophecies agree with ten thousand other things more credibly than with Jesus." And he ought to have carefully met this powerful argument of the Christians, as being the strongest which they adduce, and to have demonstrated with regard to each particular prophecy, that it can apply to other events with greater probability than to Jesus. He did not, however, perceive that this was a plausible argument to be advanced against the Christians only by one who was an opponent of the prophetic writings; but Celsus has here put l in the mouth of a Jew an objection which a Jew would not have made. For a Jew will not admit that the prophecies may be applied to countless other things with greater probability than to Jesus; but he will endeavour, after giving what appears to him the meaning of each, to oppose the Christian interpretation, not indeed by any means adducing convincing reasons, but only attempting to do so.
In the preceding pages we have already spoken of this point, viz., the prediction that there were to be two advents of Christ to the human race, so that it is not necessary for us to reply to the objection, supposed to be urged by a Jew, that "the prophets declare the coming one to be a mighty potentate, Lord of all nations and armies." But it is in the spirit of a Jew, I think, and in keeping with their bitter animosity, and baseless and even improbable calumnies against Jesus, that he adds: "Nor did the prophets predict such a pestilence."(78) For neither Jews, nor Celsus, nor any other, can bring any argument to prove that a pestilence converts men from the practice of evil to a life which is according to nature, and distinguished by temperance and other virtues.
This objection also is cast in our teeth by Celsus: "From such signs and misinterpretations, and from proofs so mean, no one could prove him to be God, and the Son of God." Now it was his duty to enumerate the alleged misinterpretations, and to prove them to be such, and to show by reasoning the meanness of the evidence, in order that the Christian, if any of his objections should seem to be plausible, might be able to answer and confute his arguments. What he said, however, regarding Jesus, did indeed come to pass, because He was a mighty potentate, although Celsus refuses to see that it so happened, notwithstanding that the clearest evidence proves it true of Jesus. "For as the sun," he says, "which enlightens all other objects, first makes himself visible, so ought the Son of God to have done." We would say in reply, that so He did; for righteousness has arisen in His days, and there is abundance of peace, which took its commencement at His birth, God preparing the nations for His teaching, that they might be under one prince, the king of the Romans, and that it might not, owing to the want of union among the nations, caused by the existence of many kingdoms, be more difficult for the apostles of Jesus to accomplish the task enjoined upon them by their Master, when He said, "Go and teach all nations." Moreover it is certain that Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus, who, so to speak, fused together into one monarchy the many populations of the earth. Now the existence of many kingdoms would have been a hindrance to the spread of the doctrine of Jesus throughout the entire world; not only for the reasons mentioned, but also on account of the necessity of men everywhere engaging in war, and fighting on behalf of their native country, which was the case before the times of Augustus, and in periods still more remote, when necessity arose, as when the Peloponnesians and Athenians warred against each other, and other nations in like manner. How, then, was it possible for the Gospel doctrine of peace, which does not permit men to take vengeance even upon enemies, to prevail throughout the world, unless at the advent of Jesus(79) a milder spirit had been everywhere introduced into the conduct of things?
He next charges the Christians with being "guilty of sophistical reasoning, in saying that the Son of God is the Logoj Himself." And he thinks that he strengthens the accusation, because "when we declare the Logoj to be the Son of God, we do not present to view a pure and holy Logoj, but a most degraded man, who was punished by scourging and crucifixion." Now, on this head we have briefly replied to the charges of Celsus in the preceding pages, where Christ was shown to be the first-born of all creation, who assumed a body and a human soul; and that God gave commandment respecting the creation of such mighty things in the world, and they were created; and that He who received the command was God the Logos. And seeing it is a Jew who makes these statements in the work of Celsus, it will not be out of place to quote the declaration, "He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction,"(80) -a passage of which we spoke a little ago. Now, although I have conferred with many Jews who professed to be learned men, I never heard any one expressing his approval of the statement that the Logos is the Son of God, as Celsus declares they do, in putting into the mouth of the Jew such a declaration as this: "If your Logos is the Son of God, we also give out assent to the same."
We have already shown that Jesus can be regarded neither as an arrogant man, nor a sorcerer; and therefore it is unnecessary to repeat our former arguments, lest, in replying to the tautologies of Celsus, we ourselves should be guilty of needless repetition. And now, in finding fault with our Lord's genealogy, there are certain points which occasion some difficulty even to Christians, and which, owing to the discrepancy between the genealogies, are advanced by some as arguments against their correctness, but which Celsus has not even mentioned. For Celsus, who is truly a braggart, and who professes to be acquainted with all matters relating to Christianity, does not know how to raise doubts in a skilful manner against the credibility of Scripture. But he asserts that the "framers of the genealogies, from a feeling of pride, made Jesus to be descended from the first man, and from the kings of the Jews." And he thinks that he makes a notable charge when he adds, that "the carpenters wife could not have been ignorant of the fact, had she been of such illustrious descent." But what has this to do with the question? Granted that she was not ignorant of her descent, how does that affect the result? Suppose that she were ignorant, how could her ignorance prove that she was not descended from the first man, or could not derive her origin from the Jewish kings? Does Celsus imagine that the poor must always be descended from ancestors who are poor, or that kings are always born of kings? But it appears folly to waste time upon such an argument as this, seeing it is well known that, even in our own days, some who are poorer than Mary are descended from ancestors of wealth and distinction, and that rulers of nations and kings have sprung from persons of no reputation.
"But," continues Celsus, "what great deeds did Jesus perform as being a God? Did he put his enemies to shame, or bring to a ridiculous conclusion what was designed against him? "Now to this question, although we are able to show the striking and miraculous character of the events which befell Him, yet from what other source can we furnish an answer than from the Gospel narratives, which state that "there was an earthquake, and that the rocks were split asunder, and the tombs opened, and the veil of the temple rent in twain from top to bottom, and that darkness prevailed in the day-time, the sun failing to give light? "(81) But if Celsus believe the Gospel accounts when he thinks that he can find in them matter of charge against the Christians, and refuse to believe them when they establish the divinity of Jesus, our answer to him is: "Sir,(82) either disbelieve all the Gospel narratives, and then no longer imagine that you can found charges upon them; or, in yielding your belief to their statements, look in admiration on the Logos of God, who became incarnate, and who desired to confer benefits upon the whole human race. And this feature evinces the nobility of the work of Jesus, that, down to the present time, those whom God wills are healed by His name.(83) And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place, Phlegon too, I think, has written in the thirteenth or fourteenth book of his Chronicles."(84)
This Jew of Celsus, ridiculing Jesus, as he imagines, is described as being acquainted with the Bacchae of Euripides, in which Dionysus says:-
"The divinity himself will liberate me whenever I wish."(85) 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."(86) 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? "(87) 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.
But in answer to this objection, "If not before, yet why now, at least, does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him and his Father? "We have to reply, that it would be the same thing as if we were to say to those among the Greeks who accept the doctrine of providence, and who believe in portents, Why does God not punish those who insult the Divinity, and subvert the doctrine of providence? For as the Greeks would answer such objections, so would we, in the same, or a more effective manner. There was not only a portent from heaven-the eclipse of the sun-but also the other miracles, which show that the crucified One possessed something that was divine, and greater than was possessed by the majority of men.
Celsus next says: "What is the nature of the ichor in the body of the crucified Jesus? Is it `such as flows in the bodies of the immortal gods? '"(88) He puts this question in a spirit of mockery; but we shall show from the serious narratives of the Gospels, although Celsus may not like it, that it was no mythic and Homeric ichor which flowed from the body of Jesus, but that, after His death, "one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and there came there-out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true, and he knoweth that he saith the truth."(89) Now, in other dead bodies the blood congeals, and pure water does not flow forth; but the miraculous feature in the case of the dead body of Jesus was, that around the dead body blood and water flowed forth from the side. But if this Celsus, who, in order to find matter of accusation against Jesus and the Christians, extracts from the Gospel even passages which are incorrectly interpreted, but passes over in silence the evidences of the divinity of Jesus, would listen to divine portents, let him read the Gospel, and see that even the centurion, and they who with him kept watch over Jesus, on seeing the earthquake, and the events that occurred, were greatly afraid, saying, "This man was the Son of God."(90)
After this, he who extracts from the Gospel narrative those statements on which he thinks he can found an accusation, makes the vinegar and the gall a subject of reproach to Jesus, saying that "he rushed with open mouth(91) to drink of them, and could not endure his thirst as any ordinary man frequently endures it." Now this matter admits of an explanation of a peculiar and figurative kind; but on the present occasion, the statement that the prophets predicted this very incident may be accepted as the more common answer to the objection. For in the Psalms 69 there is written, with reference to Christ: "And they gave me gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink,"(92) Now, let the Jews say who it is that the prophetic writing represents as uttering these words; and let them adduce from history one who received gall for his food, and to whom vinegar was given as drink. Would they venture to assert that the Christ whom they expect still to come might be placed in such circumstances? Then we would say, What prevents the prediction from having been already accomplished? For this very prediction was uttered many ages before, and is sufficient, along with the other prophetic utterances, to lead him who fairly examines the whole matter to the conclusion that Jesus is He who was prophesied of as Christ, and as the Son of God.
The few next remarks: "You, O sincere believers,(93) find fault with us, because we do not recognise this individual as God, nor agree with you that he endured these (sufferings) for the benefit of mankind, in order that we also might despise punishment." Now, in answer to this, we say that we blame the Jews, who have been brought up under the training of the law and the prophets (which foretell the coming of Christ), because they neither refute the arguments which we lay before them to prove that He is the Messiah,(94) adducing such refutation as a defence of their unbelief; nor yet, while not offering any refutation, do they believe in Him who was the subject of prophecy, and who clearly manifested through His disciples, even after the period of His appearance in the flesh, that He underwent these things for the benefit of mankind; having, as the object of His first advent, not to condemn men and their actions(95) before He had instructed them, and pointed out to them their duty,(96) nor to chastise the wicked and save the good, but to disseminate His doctrine in an extraordinary(97) manner, and with the evidence of divine power, among the whole human race, as the prophets also have represented these things. And we blame them, moreover, because they did not believe in Him who gave evidence of the power that was in Him, but asserted that He cast out demons from the souls of men through Beelzebub the prince of the demons; and we blame them because they slander the philanthropic character of Him, who overlooked not only no city, but not even a single village in Judea, that He might everywhere announce the kingdom of God, accusing Him of leading the wandering life of a vagabond, and passing an anxious existence in a disgraceful body. But there is no disgrace in enduring such labours for the benefit of all those who may be able to understand Him.
And how can the following assertion of this Jew of Celsus appear anything else than a manifest falsehood, viz., that Jesus, "having gained over no one during his life, not even his own disciples, underwent these punishments and sufferings? "For from what other source sprang the envy which was aroused against Him by the Jewish high priests, and elders, and scribes, save from the fact that multitudes obeyed and followed Him, and were led into the deserts not only by the persuasive(98) language of Him whose words were always appropriate to His hearers, but who also by His miracles made an impression on those who were not moved to belief by His words? And is it not a manifest falsehood to say that "he did not gain over even his own disciples," who exhibited, indeed, at that time some symptoms of human weakness arising from cowardly fear-for they had not yet been disciplined to the exhibition of full courage-but who by no means abandoned the judgments which they had formed regarding Him as the Christ? For Peter, after his denial, perceiving to what a depth of wickedness he had fallen, "went out and wept bitterly; "while the others, although stricken with dismay on account of what had happened to Jesus (for they still continued to admire Him), had, by His glorious appearance,(99) their belief more firmly established than before that He was the Son of God.
It is, moreover, in a very unphilosophical spirit that Celsus imagines our Lord's pre-eminence among men to consist, not in the preaching of salvation and in a pure morality, but in acting contrary to the character of that personality which He had taken upon Him, and in not dying, although He had assumed mortality; or, if dying, yet at least not such a death as might serve as a pattern to those who were to learn by that very act how to die for the sake of religion, and to comport themselves boldly through its help, before those who hold erroneous views on the subject of religion and irreligion, and who regard religious men as altogether irreligious, but imagine those to be most religious who err regarding God, and who apply to everything rather than to God the ineradicable(100) idea of Him (which is implanted in the human mind), and especially when they eagerly rush to destroy those who have yielded themselves up with their whole soul (even unto death), to the clear evidence of one God who is over all things.
In the person of the Jew, Celsus continues to find fault with Jesus, alleging that "he did not show himself to be pure from all evil." Let Celsus state from what "evil" our Lord did not, show Himself to be pure. If he means that, He was not pure from what is properly termed "evil," let him clearly prove the existence of any wicked work in Him. But if he deems poverty and the cross to be evils, and conspiracy on the part of wicked men, then it is clear that he would say that evil had happened also to Socrates, who was unable to show himself pure from evils. And how great also the other band of poor men is among the Greeks, who have given themselves to philosophical pursuits, and have voluntarily accepted a life of poverty, is known to many among the Greeks from what is recorded of Democritus, who allowed his property to become pasture for sheep; and of Crates, who obtained his freedom by bestowing upon the Thebans the price received for the sale of his possessions. Nay, even Diogenes himself, from excessive poverty, came to live in a tub; and yet, in the opinion of no one possessed of moderate understanding, was Diogenes on that account considered to be in an evil (sinful) condition.
But further, since Celsus will have it that "Jesus was not irreproachable," let him instance any one of those who adhere to His doctrine, who has recorded anything that could truly furnish ground of reproach against Jesus; or if it be not from these that he derives his matter of accusation against Him, let him say from what quarter he has learned that which has induced him to say that He is not free from reproach. Jesus, however, performed all that He promised to do, and by which He conferred benefits upon his adherents. And we, continually seeing fulfilled all that was predicted by Him before it happened, viz., that this Gospel of His should be preached throughout the whole world, and that His disciples should go among all nations and announce His doctrine; and, moreover, that they should be brought before governors and kings on no other account than because of His teaching; we are lost in wonder at Him, and have our faith in Him daily confirmed. And I know not by what greater or more convincing proofs Celsus would have Him confirm His predictions; unless, indeed, as seems to be the case, not understanding that the Logos had become the man Jesus, he would have Him to be subject to no human weakness, nor to become an illustrious pattern to men of the manner in which they ought to bear the calamities of life, although these appear to Celsus to be most lamentable and disgraceful occurrences, seeing that he regards labour(101) to be the greatest of evils, and pleasure the perfect good,-a view accepted by none of those philosophers who admit the doctrine of providence, and who allow that courage, and fortitude, and magnanimity are virtues. Jesus, therefore, by His sufferings cast no discredit upon the faith of which He was the object; but rather confirmed the same among those who would approve of manly courage, and among those who were taught by Him that what was truly and properly the happy life was not here below, but was to be found in that which was called, according to His own words, the "coming world; "whereas in what is called the "present world" life is a calamity, or at least the first and greatest struggle of the soul.(102)