What can we say about the Ophites?

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andrewcriddle
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Re: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by andrewcriddle » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:45 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:19 am
The sect never existed. Made up Church Father nonsense and lies.
Assuming Origen is reporting Celsus more or less accurately, Celsus iprovides non-Christian evidence for the existence of the Ophites.

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Re: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:46 am

No he doesn't. He just speaks about Christians. No mention of 'Ophites.' Origen confirms this (6.24)

After the instance borrowed from the Mithraic mysteries, Celsus declares that he who would investigate the Christian mysteries, along with the aforesaid Persian, will, on comparing the two together, and on unveiling the rites of the Christians, see in this way the difference between them. Now, wherever he was able to give the names of the various sects, he was nothing loth to quote those with which he thought himself acquainted; but when he ought most of all to have done this, if they were really known to him, and to have informed us which was the sect that makes use of the diagram he has drawn, he has not done so. It seems to me, however, that it is from some statements of a very insignificant sect called Ophites, which he has misunderstood, that, in my opinion, he has partly borrowed what he says about the diagram.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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andrewcriddle
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Re: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by andrewcriddle » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:58 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:46 am
No he doesn't. He just speaks about Christians. No mention of 'Ophites.' Origen confirms this (6.24)

After the instance borrowed from the Mithraic mysteries, Celsus declares that he who would investigate the Christian mysteries, along with the aforesaid Persian, will, on comparing the two together, and on unveiling the rites of the Christians, see in this way the difference between them. Now, wherever he was able to give the names of the various sects, he was nothing loth to quote those with which he thought himself acquainted; but when he ought most of all to have done this, if they were really known to him, and to have informed us which was the sect that makes use of the diagram he has drawn, he has not done so. It seems to me, however, that it is from some statements of a very insignificant sect called Ophites, which he has misunderstood, that, in my opinion, he has partly borrowed what he says about the diagram.
Celsus does not use the name Ophites but his Christians appear to be on the side of the serpent.
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.
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Re: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:22 am

Exactly. No squabble here. But the Ophites as a name are only known later. This is not what the sect called themselves or at least there is no evidence for this from non-Christian sources.
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 ... 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.
I think there is a very compelling argument that the so-called Ophites were really Marcionites. From Irenaeus:
But the serpent which was in Marcion declared that Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and those other righteous men who sprang from the patriarch Abraham, with all the prophets, and those who were pleasing to God, did not partake in salvation. For since these men, he says, knew that their God was constantly tempting them, so now they suspected that He was tempting them, and did not run to Jesus, or believe His announcement: and for this reason he declared that their souls remained in Hades ... They (the Marcionites) set forth, indeed, the name of Christ Jesus as a sort of lure, but in various ways they introduce the impieties of Simon; and thus they destroy multitudes, wickedly disseminating their own doctrines by the use of a good name, and, through means of its sweetness and beauty, extending to their hearers the bitter and malignant poison of the serpent, the great author of apostasy.
Epiphanius Elenchos 2 and 29:
For you are like the serpent, Marcion; it too reversed what God had said and misled Eve by saying, "Ye shall not surely die."
Moreover Polycarp's 'recognition':
"I do know thee (Marcion), the first-born of Satan."
The firstborn of Satan was the serpent. And perhaps decisively (albeit much later) but perhaps going to back to the same well Theodoret reports that according to the teaching of the Marcionites the serpent is better than the creator of the world, because the latter forbade the eating of the tree of knowledge but the serpent urged it. (Harnack p. 108)
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:05 pm

More on the connection of Marcion and the serpent. Ephrem writes
Marcion who like the serpent used to fast — the serpent poured into his ear a multitude of words.
Dillon writing about Irenaeus's original reporting notes:
The origin of the Ophites lies buried in obscurity, and authors differ in setting a date. Some claim this sect shows a close dependence on Marcion's antibiblical tenets, and so in point of time would follow this heresy. https://books.google.com/books?id=LUOsk ... 22&f=false
Theodoret again - https://books.google.com/books?id=R_1IP ... on&f=false
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:21 pm

Another question is to what degree can we be certain that Origen is providing us with the right information. For instance, it doesn't make any sense that the Creator would be called 'the accursed divinity' given the fact that he curses rather than is accursed in all the evidence directly cited from Celsus. For example we read:
In the next place, he determines even the number mentioned by those who deliver over the seal, as that "of seven angels, who attach themselves to both sides of the soul of the dying body; the one party being named angels of light, the others 'archontics;' " and he asserts that the "ruler of those named 'archontics' is termed the 'accursed' god."

Εἶτα καὶ ἀριθμὸν ὁρίζει λεγόμενον ὑπὸ τῶν παραδιδόντων τὴν σφραγῖδα ἀγγέλων ἑπτά, ἑκατέρωθεν τῇ ψυχῇ τοῦ ἀπαλλαττομένου σώματος ἐφισταμένων, τῶν μὲν τοῦ φωτὸς ἑτέρων δὲ τῶν ὀνομαζομένων ἀρχοντικῶν, καὶ λέγει τὸν ἄρχοντα τῶν ὀνομαζομένων ἀρχοντικῶν λέγεσθαι θεὸν κατηραμένον.
So it would appear that in this passage - which is paraphrased rather than directly citing Celsus (which is always dangerous) - that there are two classes of angels, the dark angels belong to 'the accursed divinity.'

Origen follows this up by
Then, laying hold of the expression, he assails, not without reason; those who venture to use such language; and on that account we entertain a similar feeling of indignation with those who censure such individuals, if indeed there exist any who call the God of the Jews--who sends rain and thunder, and who is the Creator of this world, and the God of Moses, and of the cosmogony which he records--an "accursed" divinity. Celsus, however, appears to have had in view in employing these expressions, not a rational object, but one of a most irrational kind, arising out of his hatred towards us, which is so unlike a philosopher. For his aim was, that those who are unacquainted with our customs should, on perusing his treatise, at once assail us as if we called the noble Creator of this world an "accursed divinity."
Again I don't see any direct connection to the god of the Jews. This is followed by:
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 (κατηραμένον θεὸν τὸν δημιουργόν)" 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 (τὸ αἱρεῖν ὁρμήσαι Χριστιανοὺς ὡς πάντων ἀσεβεστάτους). Confusing, moreover, things that are distinct (Φύρων δὲ τὰ πράγματα καὶ τὴν αἰτίαν ἐκτίθεται), 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."

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 εἰσηγου μένῳ, κατηράσατο.
Now let's stop it right there. Φύρων δὲ τὰ πράγματα καὶ τὴν αἰτίαν ἐκτίθεται clearly means that at the core level of Origen's original analysis, the Church Father originally said Celsus 'mixes' Φύρων things up. Indeed Eusebius may have added another layer on top of this text, but at its core Origen tells us Celsus got his facts wrong.

To me at least the Demiurge should be called the 'cursing divinity' and the serpent the 'accursed divinity.' Note that again Origen references Celsus's 'mix up' a little later in the same discussion:
And it is from misunderstanding, I think, some pestilent heresy which gave an erroneous interpretation to the words, "Let there be light," as if they were the expression of a wish merely on the part of the Creator, that Celsus made the remark: "The Creator did not borrow light from above, like those persons who kindle their lamps at those of their neighbours." Misunderstanding, moreover, another impious heresy, he has said: "If, indeed, there did exist an accursed god opposed to the great God, who did this contrary to his approval, why did he lend him the light?"
Celsus is not trying to achieve clarity but rather simply present Christianity as a jumbled mess of opinions as we see in the next chapter:
"Why does he send secretly, and destroy the works which he has created? Why does he secretly employ force, and persuasion, and deceit? Why does he allure those who, as ye assert, have been condemned or accused by him, and carry them away like a slave-dealer? Why does he teach them to steal away from their Lord? Why to flee from their father? Why does he claim them for himself against the father's will? Why does he profess to be the father of strange children?"
Note at once that Celsus flips from 'Demiurge' to 'other god' of the Marcionites mixing things up so as to make the whole thing ridiculous. But do I think the Christians may have celebrity the serpent? Perhaps. But it should also be evident that Celsus is 'mixed' up or mixing up his evidence - perhaps on purpose, making the exact beliefs of contemporary Christians unclear to us.
“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: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:24 pm

I will say this, by way of conclusion (I have to go) there is a certain logic to identifying (a) the serpent as the 'accursed god' and (b) Jesus with the serpent:

1. the serpent is accursed; God curses
2. serpent is a gematria for Christ/messiah
3. Christ ends up accursed on the Cross
4. John equates the raising of a serpent on a pole by Moses with Christ crucified
5. Marcion wants to be 'recognized' presumably as Christ or Christ-like and Polycarp identifies him as the firstborn of Satan, the serpent.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:00 pm

I have to admit I am not seeing the word 'exterminate' in this sentence:

ἵν' ὁ πιστεύων αὐτῷ ταῦτα καθ' ἡμῶν λέγοντι εἰ δυνατὸν καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ αἱρεῖν ὁρμήσαι Χριστιανοὺς ὡς πάντων ἀσεβεστάτους

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
“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: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:08 pm

On some of the epistemological difficulties with figuring out what Celsus is originally saying. Chadwick adds in his footnotes at the beginning of this section cited:
The sentence is obscure ; it may be taken to mean that it is the angels who give the seal. Origen has so abbreviated Celsus' text here
“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: What can we say about the Ophites?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:12 pm

Chadwick also pays attention to the last line of the section:
And they boast that a certain Euphrates was the man who taught them their impious doctrines
and adds as a footnote:
Hippolytus (/?«/! Iv, j, i; v, i3, 9; x, 10, i) mentions Euphrates as one of the two chief sources of the Peratic system. The Peratics also took a marked interest in the serpent (Ref. v, 15.6ff)
“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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