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an Epicurean, who lived in the time of the Antonines, and was a friend of Lucian.


Λόγος ἀληθής

There was another Celsus, who lived before the time of Nero, but he is of no historical importance. Neither would the other have been so, but for the doubt whether he is not the author of the attack on Christianity called the Λόγος ἀληθής, which has acquired so much notoriety from the answer written to it by Origen. [ORIGENES.] To the Epicurean Celsus, Lucian dedicated his life of the magician Alexander, and in the course of it (§ 21) praises a work written by him against the belief in magic. But in the book against Christianity, Celsus stated with apparent approbation the opinion of the Platonists, that enchanters had power over all who have not raised themselves above the influence of sensuous nature (ὕλη), but not over those who are elevated to communion with the Deity; the whole of which sentiment is inconsistent with the doctrine of Epicurus. Again, he talked of the soul's relation to God, of the spirit of man as immortal and derived from the Divinity, of evil spirits springing from the ὕλη and opposing the designs of God. All these are plainly the sentiments, not of an Epicurean, but of a Platonist. Indeed, the only reason for supposing the author of this work to be the Epicurean Celsus, is the positive assertion of Origen, who, however, is obliged to have recourse to some curious hypotheses to account for the prevalence of the Platonic element. One is, that the author chose to conceal his real views, because there was at the time a strong prejudice against Epicureans as deniers of all religion, and therefore unfit to be judges of the merits of Christianity. But this seems improbable, and on the whole it is better to suppose Celsus the Epicurean and Celsus the author of this book to be different persons. With regard to the work itself, it is a mixture of self-sufficiency, ignorance, and inconsistency. In one place the author reproached the Christians as slaves of a blind belief, in another with their numerous sects and evervarying opinions. Sometimes he spoke of them as the slaves of their senses (δειλὸν καὶ φιλοσώματον γένος), on another occasion as persons who rejected all external worship whatever. He was indignant that the Christian promises are offered to sinners, and said in reference to our Lord's coming to save them, τί δὲ τοῖς ἀναμαρτήτοις οὐκ ἐπέμφθη; he also argued a priori against the doctrines of a special Providence, the Fall, and the Redemption, asserting that God made his work perfect once for all, and had no need to improve it afterwards.

Further Information

Origenes, ad v. Cels. ; Brucker, Hist. Crit. Phil. Per. ii., 1.1, 2, 8; Neander, Geschichte der Christl. Kirche, vol. i. sect. 2.


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