Reviews at Amazon.com
Celsus On the True Doctrine, January 26, 2004
Reviewer: andrew burroughs
It is only in the time of the Enlightenment that
we again see the "Christ" debate appear again. This is a worthy translation
and easy to read. It is well footnoted. The introduction by Hoffman is excellent
and balanced. One can see why that old forgerer Eusebius attacked Celsus with
spite and concern. Celsus asks questions that we are only finally asking in the
last few years. Think about it: for over 1700 years of Western civilization,
the challenges and questions raised by Celsus, et al, were condemned and only
wispered behind locked doors. What wisdom and ideas have we lost from this
imperious regime of faith and intolerance imposed on us with fire and sword?
All that we learned from Plato we lost to faith!
Must Read for Students of Early Christianity........., February 28, 2002
.................all of Celsus' work was destroyed by Christian emperors,
but "On the True Doctrine" is "preserved" only because it was contained, in pieces,
within polemic against the work that was written by Origen of Alexandria.
An impressive reconstruction, December 23, 2001
Reviewer: steve mcduffie
by the time the Roman Empire was Christianized, it had become a
capital crime to possess literature critical of Christianity.
That is why our understanding of Christian origins is so one-sided.
As even students of history know: history is written by the winners.
The book burners won. Well, almost.
And I love that he was so inundated with so many different flavors of Christianity
that he was not even aware that they are not the same cult.
I also love how he ratted them out for making corrections to the gospels
on the fly, pen in hand, during debates.
This certainly explains why there are so many textual variants in the ancient,
extant New Testament manuscripts
(for instance, there are 81 textual variations of Luke's version of the
Lord's Prayer in the ancient manuscripts).
Just a Thought, July 9, 2001
Reviewer: Michael Sympson
I am not sure who came first - Celsus or rabbinical libels -
to identify Jesus as the illegitimate son to a Roman solder, a
Syrian Archer Pantera. Incidentally near BingerbrÅ¸ck we excavated
the tombstone of the archer Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera
(now in the Museum of Kreuznach), whose cohort had been transferred from
Syria to the Rhine in 9 AD. He was born in Sidon, Phoenicia.
Rescued from the historical dustbin!, June 27, 2001
Reviewer: Geoff Puterbaugh
We don't need to ask who consigned Celsus to the dustbin of history;
the Catholic Church burned this book whenever it found it.
Obviously, Celsus was on to something. Origen the Eunuch spent many many pages
in "refuting Celsus," and, when he was finished with the "refutation,"
the order went out to burn all the copies, just in case.
This is, therefore, a very interesting early example of a totalitarian institution
The really funny part comes next. After refuting this book and destroying it,
guess who was keeping a copy for future historians to revive? The Church,
of course! Origen's "refutation" of Celsus was so extensive that he cited virtually
the entire work in the pages of his "refutation!"
Celsus makes many interesting points, among them that Christian preachers
preferentially recruited uneducated people.
A summary of Celsus, on the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians
Link to Article
CELSUS ON CHRISTIANITY (178CE)
CELSUS (178ECE) Wrote"On the True Doctrine, known primarily from the polemical book,
"Contra Celsum," written br Origen of Alexandria in response the Celsus's questions.
Celsus' books, along with those of Porphry and others, were condemned by order of
Valentinian III and Theodosious in 448CE. Celsus' writing is one of the few writings
made in response to christian claims that survives today in any form; the church,
beginning with its first alliances with Roman power in Constantine's time, never took
criticisms lightly; anyone with the audacity to question their claims was branded a
"heretic," and their books were banned and burned, often alongside their authors.
Celsus is one of the handful of critics who have not been written completely out
Celsus gives us a glimpse of the criticisms made against christian claims. In that
he wrote before the second century, it is interesting to note that many of his
criticisms are still with us today as topics of lively debate
"It is clear to me that the writings of the christians are a lie, and that your
fables are not well-enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction: I have heard
that some of your interpreters...are on to the inconsistencies and, pen in hand, alter
the originals writings, three, four and several more times over in order to be able
to deny the contradictions in the face of criticism." (37).
"There is nothing new or impressive about their ethical teaching; indeed, when one
compares it to other philosophies, their simplemindedness becomes apparent." (53).
THE END OF THE WORLD
It is equally silly of these christians to suppose that when their god applies the fire
(like a common cook!) all the rest of mankind will be thoroughly scorched, and that they
alone will escape unscorched-- not just those alive at the time, mind you, but (they say)
those long since dead will rise up from the earth possessing the same bodies as they did
UNORIGINALITY IN CHRISTIAN WRITINGS
"Many of the ideas of the christians have been expressed better-- and earlier-- by the greeks,
who were however modest enough to refrain from saying that their ideas came from a god or a
son of god. The ancients in their wisdom revealed certain truths to those able to understand:
"Not only do they misunderstand the words of the philosophers; they even stoop to assigning
words of the philosophers to their Jesus. For example, we are told that Jesus judged the rich
with the saying 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a
rich man to enter the kingdom of god.' Yet we know that Plato expressed this very idea in
a purer form when he said, 'It is impossible for an exceptionally good man to be exceptionally
rich.'* Is one utterance more inspired than the other?"
You christians have a saying that goes something like this: 'Don't resist a man who
insults you; even if he strikes you, offer your other cheek as well.' This is nothing new,
and its been better said by others, especially by Plato, who ascribes the following to
Socrates in the Crito...'ts never right to do wrong and never right to take revenge;
nor is it right to give evil for evil, or in the case of one who has suffered some injury,
to attempt to get even...'" (113).
"Christians, needless to say, utterly detest one another; they slander each other constantly
with the vilest forms of abuse, and cannot come to any sort of agreement in their teaching.
Each sect brands its own, fills the head of its own with deceitful nonsense...". (91).
"So too their fantastic story-- which they take from the Jews-- concerning the flood and
the building of an enormous ark, and the business about the message being brought back
to the survivors of the flood by a dove (or was it an old crow?). This is nothing more
than a debased and nonsensical version of the myth of Deucalion, a fact I am sure they
would not want to come light." (80).