Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

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Giuseppe
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Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:04 am

Contra Celsum, 6:28:

With some such object as this in view does Celsus seem to have been actuated, when he alleged that Christians term the Creator an accursed divinity; in order that he who believes these charges of his against us, should, if possible, arise and exterminate the Christians as the most impious of mankind. Confusing, moreover, things that are distinct, he states also the reason why the God of the Mosaic cosmogony is termed accursed, asserting that such is his character, and worthy of execration in the opinion of those who so regard him, inasmuch as he pronounced a curse upon the serpent, who introduced the first human beings to the knowledge of good and evil. Now he ought to have known that those who have espoused the cause of the serpent, because he gave good advice to the first human beings, and who go far beyond the Titans and Giants of fable, and are on this account called Ophites, are so far from being Christians, that they bring accusations against Jesus to as great a degree as Celsus himself; and they do not admit any one into their assembly until he has uttered maledictions against Jesus. See, then, how irrational is the procedure of Celsus, who, in his discourse against the Christians, represents as such those who will not even listen to the name of Jesus, or omit even that He was a wise man, or a person of virtuous character! What, then, could evince greater folly or madness, not only on the part of those who wish to derive their name from the serpent as the author of good, but also on the part of Celsus, who thinks that the accusations with which the Ophites are charged, are chargeable also against the Christians! Long ago, indeed, that Greek philosopher who preferred a state of poverty, and who exhibited the pattern of a happy life, showing that he was not excluded from happiness although he was possessed of nothing, termed himself a Cynic; while these impious wretches, as not being human beings, whose enemy the serpent is, but as being serpents, pride themselves upon being called Ophites from the serpent, which is an animal most hostile to and greatly dreaded by man, and boast of one Euphrates as the introducer of these unhallowed opinions.

How on the Earth could some ''Christians'' (and called such by Celsus) accept the idea that the man Jesus was not ''a wise man, or a person of virtuous character'' ???

That is an explicit negation of the Testimonium Flavianum:
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.
- Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Giuseppe
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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:12 am

In a modern Italian translation of the same passage of interest, I read something of similar in English:

taking for Christians those who do not even want to hear the name of Jesus, not even that of a wise man or a man of balanced costumes!

The sense is partially different from the English translation found here.

...represents as such those who will not even listen to the name of Jesus, or omit even that He was a wise man, or a person of virtuous character!

...since I my infer from the latter translation that only some Ophites didn't know that Christ is called Jesus, while other Ophites (a minority) did know that Jesus is Christ but rejected the idea that Jesus was a ''wise man'' etc, basically rejected the idea that he was on the earth (given that even the more separationists among the historicist Christians recognized that the man Jesus, even if distinct from the divine Christ, was a ''wise man'' etc).

May some expert help me about the more correct translation?
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:02 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:12 am
In a modern Italian translation of the same passage of interest, I read something of similar in English:

taking for Christians those who do not even want to hear the name of Jesus, not even that of a wise man or a man of balanced costumes!

The sense is partially different from the English translation found here.

...represents as such those who will not even listen to the name of Jesus, or omit even that He was a wise man, or a person of virtuous character!

...since I my infer from the latter translation that only some Ophites didn't know that Christ is called Jesus, while other Ophites (a minority) did know that Jesus is Christ but rejected the idea that Jesus was a ''wise man'' etc, basically rejected the idea that he was on the earth (given that even the more separationists among the historicist Christians recognized that the man Jesus, even if distinct from the divine Christ, was a ''wise man'' etc).

May some expert help me about the more correct translation?
I admit I am quite interested in figuring out what the Ophites are all about.

Here is the passage in question:

Origen, Against Celsus 6.28: 28 With some such object as this in view does Celsus seem to have been actuated, when he alleged that Christians term the Creator an accursed divinity; in order that he who believes these charges of his against us, should, if possible, arise and exterminate the Christians as the most impious of mankind. Confusing, moreover, things that are distinct, he states also the reason why the God of the Mosaic cosmogony is termed accursed, asserting that "such is his character, and worthy of execration in the opinion of those who so regard him, inasmuch as he pronounced a curse upon the serpent, who introduced the first human beings to the knowledge of good and evil." Now he ought to have known that those who have espoused the cause of the serpent, because he gave good advice to the first human beings, and who go far beyond the Titans and Giants of fable, and are on this account called Ophites, are so far from being Christians, that they bring accusations against Jesus to as great a degree as Celsus himself; and they do not admit any one into their assembly until he has uttered maledictions against Jesus. See, then, how irrational is the procedure of Celsus, who, in his discourse against the Christians, represents as such those who will not even listen to the name of Jesus, or omit even that He was a wise man, or a person of virtuous character! What, then, could evince greater folly or madness, not only on the part of those who wish to derive their name from the serpent as the author of good, but also on the part of Celsus, who thinks that the accusations with which the Ophites are charged, are chargeable also against the Christians! Long ago, indeed, that Greek philosopher who preferred a state of poverty, and who exhibited the pattern of a happy life, showing that he was not excluded from happiness although he was possessed of nothing, termed himself a Cynic; while these impious wretches, as not being human beings, whose enemy the serpent is, but as being serpents, pride themselves upon being called Ophites from the serpent, which is an animal most hostile to and greatly dreaded by man, and boast of one Euphrates as the introducer of these unhallowed opinions. / 28 Τοιοῦτόν τι δή μοι φαίνεται ὁ Κέλσος οἰκονομῶν ἐκτεθεῖσθαι, ὡς ἄρα Χριστιανοὶ λέγουσι κατηραμένον θεὸν τὸν δημιουργόν, ἵν' ὁ πιστεύων αὐτῷ ταῦτα καθ' ἡμῶν λέγοντι εἰ δυνατὸν καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ αἱρεῖν ὁρμήσαι Χριστιανοὺς ὡς πάντων ἀσεβεστάτους. Φύρων δὲ τὰ πράγματα καὶ τὴν αἰτίαν ἐκτίθεται τοῦ κατηραμένον λέγεσθαι τὸν τῆς κατὰ Μωϋσέα κοσμοποιΐας θεὸν φάσκων ὅτι τοιοῦτός ἐστιν καὶ ἀρᾶς ἄξιος κατὰ τοὺς ταῦτα περὶ αὐτοῦ δοξάζοντας, ἐπείπερ τῷ ὄφει, γνῶσιν καλοῦ καὶ κακοῦ τοῖς πρώτοις ἀνθρώποις εἰσηγουμένῳ, κατηράσατο. Εἰδέναι δ' αὐτὸν ἐχρῆν ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοῦ ὄφεως ἑλόμενοι ὡς καλῶς τοῖς πρώτοις ἀνθρώποις συμβουλεύσαντος καὶ Τιτᾶνας καὶ Γίγαντας τοὺς μυθικοὺς ὑπερβαλόντες καὶ Ὀφιανοὶ διὰ τοῦτο καλούμενοι τοσοῦτον ἀποδέουσι τοῦ εἶναι Χριστιανοί, ὥστ' οὐκ ἔλαττον Κέλσου κατηγορεῖν αὐτοὺς τοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ μὴ πρότερον προσίεσθαί τινα ἐπὶ τὸ συνέδριον ἑαυτῶν, ἐὰν μὴ ἀρὰς θῆται κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. Ὅρα γοῦν πῶς ἀλογώτατον πεποίηκεν ὁ Κέλσος ἐν τοῖς κατὰ Χριστιανῶν λόγοις παραλαβὼν ὡς Χριστιανοὺς τοὺς μηδ' ἀκούειν θέλοντας τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κἂν ὅτι σοφός τις ἢ μέτριος τὰ ἤθη ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν. Τί οὖν εἴη ἂν ἠλιθιώτερον ἢ μανικώτερον οὐ μόνον τῶν ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄφεως ὡς ἀρχηγοῦ τῶν καλῶν χρηματίσαι βουληθέντων ἀλλὰ καὶ Κέλσου, νομίσαντος κατὰ Χριστιανῶν εἶναι κατηγορίας τὰς κατὰ τῶν Ὀφιανῶν; Πάλαι μὲν οὖν ὁ τὴν εὐτέλειαν ἀγαπήσας φιλόσοφος Ἑλλήνων καὶ παράδειγμα ἐκθεὶς εὐδαίμονος βίου, ὡς οὐ κωλυόμενος εὐδαιμονεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς παντελοῦς ἀκτημοσύνης, Κυνικὸν ἑαυτὸν ἀνηγόρευσεν· οὗτοι δὲ οἱ ἀνόσιοι ἀπὸ τοῦ πολεμιωτάτου ἀνθρώποις ὄφεως καὶ φρικτοτάτου ὡς οὐκ ἄνθρωποι, ὧν ἐχθρός ἐστιν ὄφις, ἀλλ' ὡς ὄφεις σεμνύνονται ἐπὶ τῷ Ὀφιανοὶ καλεῖσθαι, Εὐφράτην τινὰ εἰσηγητὴν τῶν ἀνοσίων αὐχοῦντες λόγων.

Let me isolate the sentence in question and then translate it myself as well as I can, though the Greek construction of the final clause (κἂν ὅτι... ἦν) seems almost impossible to render perfectly in English (hence, no doubt, the variant translations):

Ὅρα γοῦν πῶς ἀλογώτατον πεποίηκεν ὁ Κέλσος ἐν τοῖς κατὰ Χριστιανῶν λόγοις παραλαβὼν ὡς Χριστιανοὺς τοὺς μηδ' ἀκούειν θέλοντας τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κἂν ὅτι σοφός τις ἢ μέτριος τὰ ἤθη ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν.

See, then, how Celsus has made/done an irrational thing in [his] words against Christians, accepting as Christians those who are not even willing to hear the name of Jesus, even if [it should be] that he was a wise human or one moderate in (his) customs.

The word "omit" in the English translation above may be a mistake for "admit."
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Giuseppe
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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by Giuseppe » Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:28 am

Thank you, Ben.

So there are not two groups of Ophites regarding the view of Jesus, but only one group that rejects both:

1) the name "Jesus" for the Christ;
2) the same ebionite or cerinthian idea that Jesus was only a wise man (first requisite to be possessed by the divine Christ and/or adopted by God according to cerinthians and ebionites).

Clearly in the eyes of Origen at least to accept the point 2 would be a relative measure of compromise with the his own proto-Catholic views. Hence the his condemnation without appeal of these "Christians".
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:44 am

Origen's argument IIUC is that Celsus is including as Christians groups who are on any common sense meaning not Christians at all.

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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:56 am

It is important to remember that Celsus never speaks of these Christians as anything other than Christians. It is Origen who marginalizes them as a sect. I see links between the sect and Clement. Origen also knows more than he admits - for instance why does he also have a copy of the diagram?
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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:02 pm

FWIW we have texts like Zostrianos which clearly derive from some form of Christian gnosis but which are not in their present form Christian in any normal sense.

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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:14 pm

But let's keep it real. If we catch a preacher rail against homosexuals and then we find that he has a Grindr app on his phone - that might be the modern equivalent of Origen's possession of the Ophite diagram.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by Peter Kirby » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:29 pm

I guess someone has to say it... A simple alternative involves cursing Jesus as someone neither wise nor of good character.

Not saying I prefer it. I am interested in all the alternatives here.
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Re: Found Evidence of Christians Who Were Mythicists (even in historicist times!)

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:39 pm

Yeah. Jesus was a fucking asshole. An ancient Donald Trump.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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