In The True Word , Celsus attacked Christianity in three ways; by refuting its philosophical claims, by marking it as a phenomenon associated with the uneducated and lower class, and by cautioning his audience that it was a danger to the Roman Empire. All information concerning the work exists only in the extensive quotations from it in the Contra Celsum "Against Celsus" written some seventy years later by the Christian Origen. These are believed to be accurate as far as they go, but may not give a fully comprehensive picture of the original work. Celsus was only one writer in a long tradition of Roman writers and philosophers who wrote and spoke out against Christianity, feeling that their doctrines were either inscrutable or downright foolish. The primary problem that most Roman citizens and the Imperial government had regarding the Christians was their adamant refusal to participate in the required sacrifices that were regularly made to the Emperor and the Roman state, sacrifices that were an integral part of Roman politics, religion, and culture.
|Published (Last):||24 April 2004|
|PDF File Size:||8.20 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||19.32 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
In The True Word , Celsus attacked Christianity in three ways; by refuting its philosophical claims, by marking it as a phenomenon associated with the uneducated and lower class, and by cautioning his audience that it was a danger to the Roman Empire. All information concerning the work exists only in the extensive quotations from it in the Contra Celsum "Against Celsus" written some seventy years later by the Christian Origen. These are believed to be accurate as far as they go, but may not give a fully comprehensive picture of the original work.
Celsus was only one writer in a long tradition of Roman writers and philosophers who wrote and spoke out against Christianity, feeling that their doctrines were either inscrutable or downright foolish. The primary problem that most Roman citizens and the Imperial government had regarding the Christians was their adamant refusal to participate in the required sacrifices that were regularly made to the Emperor and the Roman state, sacrifices that were an integral part of Roman politics, religion, and culture.
Most Romans could not understand the Christians' insistence on their own superiority and their insistence upon their apparently exclusive path to salvation. Roman philosophers also attacked Christian moral and ethical principles because "the Christianity of the first century had yet to develop an assailable system of belief or a fixed canon of writings from which such beliefs could be educed". Celsus was either a Greek or a Roman who wrote during the latter half of the 2nd century AD.
Very little is known about his origins or life. The work in its original form has been lost and the True Word survives only as excerpts from a work by the Christian scholar Origen , who quoted Celsus to rebut him.
Celsus' first main point in his True Word was to refute the validity of Christianity. In his opinion Christian theology was based on an amalgamation of false eastern philosophical ideas hastily tied together. He stated that Christians would "weave together erroneous opinions drawn from ancient sources and trumpet them aloud".
He denied the virgin birth of Jesus , and accused Mary of being an adulteress turned out by her husband. His theory was not new, as even Jews at that time were saying the same. Celsus also found Christian philosophy lacking when compared to secular philosophy, and declared that "things are stated much better among the Greeks".
The only connection Celsus made between Greek philosophy and Christianity was when he asserted that "Jesus perverted the words of the philosopher" i. When compared with the gods of Roman and Greek mythology, Celsus found the Christian God sadly lacking, and declared that he could not be a god as he was neither all-knowing nor all-powerful. Celsus could deduce no explanation for the actions of the Christian God, such as the floods, natural disasters, and the introduction of evil into the world, except that God wanted to draw attention to his greatness because he felt humanity was giving him "less than his due".
In his opinion, the main tenet of Christianity was "Do not ask questions, just believe" and "Thy faith will save thee". Celsus complained that Christianity was a phenomenon limited primarily to the lower class.
He claimed that Christians actively sought out and converted the ignorant, uneducated, and lower class, as they were the only people who would believe in such a ridiculous theology and blindly follow its doctrines. Celsus revealed himself to be a member of the upper class when he makes his statements regarding Jesus; who obviously could not be the son of god as he was born a peasant.
The True Word stated that Mary would have been unworthy to be noticed by God "because she was neither rich nor of royal rank". Celsus declared that Christians convert by "lead[ing] on wicked men by empty hopes, and to persuade them to despise better things, saying that if they refrain from them it will be better Adherence to the state supported Roman religion was compulsory and the Roman authorities felt it was necessary for the effective management of the political system.
One of the most integral parts of the Roman state religion was reverence and occasional sacrifices for the Emperor, an act that Christians continually refused to participate in, as in their opinion it came too close to idolatry and worship of a God that was not their own. Celsus listed many reasons for how his Roman readers could easily deduce that Christianity was endangering their unity and the stability of the Empire. Christianity originated from Judaism, whose adherents, although living within the Empire, had already revolted against Roman rule several times.
The Christian community then became further divided among themselves, and Celsus complained that "matters are determined in different ways by the various sects". Finally Celsus and other Roman writers believed that "Christians are dangerous precisely because they put the advancement of their beliefs above the common good and the welfare of the state". The secrecy in which Christians met and practiced was another problem for Celsus.
He commented that they "entered into secret associations with each other contrary to law". Celsus provided only one solution to solve the problems that he believed Christianity would inevitably create within the Empire.
He commanded that Christians must both respect the Emperor and perform rituals to the gods of the Roman state. If they could not or would not participate in the Imperial religion they must not "take any share in the affairs of life; but… depart hence with all speed and leave no posterity behind them".
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, III, ch. VI, ch. I, ch. VIII, ch. Categories : 2nd-century books 2nd-century Christianity Pagan anti-Gnosticism Books about Christianity Greek literature post-classical Criticism of Christianity Ancient Roman writers and early Christianity. Hidden categories: Harv and Sfn no-target errors Articles containing Ancient Greek-language text All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from April Articles with unsourced statements from July CS1 maint: uses editors parameter.
Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Contribute Help Community portal Recent changes Upload file.
On the True Doctrine
A True Discourse
Date: "And we have heard that there were two individuals of the name of Celsus, both of whom were Epicureans; the earlier of the two having lived in the time of Nero, but this one in that of Adrian, and later. Of associations some are public, and these are in accordance with the laws; others, again, secret, and maintained in violation of the laws; of this latter sort is Christianity. The Christians teach and practice their favorite doctrines in secret. They do this to some purpose, seeing they escape the penalty of death which is imminent; similar dangers were encountered by such men as Socrates for the sake of philosophy. The system of doctrine, viz. Their system of morals is only common to them with other philosophers, and no venerable or new branch of instruction, though their regulations respecting idolatry are peculiar to themselves.
On the True Doctrine : A Discourse Against the Christians
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again.