Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

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Giuseppe
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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by Giuseppe » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:27 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:11 pm
This, however, is almost certainly not his intent. Rather, it is simply to ridicule the Jewish messianic belief which only some (τινες) Christians espoused.
I agree that his first intent is simply to ridicule the fanatic Jewish apocalypticism.

But en passant, as a mere collateral side, he gives us a precious information, beyond if it was or not his "intent": that only some Christians believed in an already arrived Messiah, in opposition to the Jews who believed in a Messiah who is not still arrived.

It is not necessary to have an "intent" when someone betrayes implicit knowledge of a difference. If modern scholars have pointed out a "mistake" by Celsus here, they don't mean an "intent", only a lack of attention. This is a gratuitous hypothesis, to assume that Celsus did accidentally this presumed "error".
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:28 pm

But everything about the passage negates the possibility of exactness on Celsus's part. 'God or Son of God' when Jews don't or didn't use this terminology in the late second century.
“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: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by Giuseppe » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:34 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:28 pm
'God or Son of God' when Jews don't or didn't use this terminology in the late second century.
Are you sure? I know at least a historicist scholar who says that John the Baptist was an apocalypticist who predicted the sudden coming of God himself, i.e. YHWH, as opposed to a Son of God, on earth.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:50 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:27 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:11 pm
This, however, is almost certainly not his intent. Rather, it is simply to ridicule the Jewish messianic belief which only some (τινες) Christians espoused.
I agree that his first intent is simply to ridicule the fanatic Jewish apocalypticism.

But en passant, as a mere collateral side, he gives us a precious information, beyond if it was or not his "intent": that only some Christians believed in an already arrived Messiah, in opposition to the Jews who believed in a Messiah who is not still arrived.

It is not necessary to have an "intent" when someone betrayes implicit knowledge of a difference. If modern scholars have pointed out a "mistake" by Celsus here, they don't mean an "intent", only a lack of attention. This is a gratuitous hypothesis, to assume that Celsus did accidentally this presumed "error".
By this same standard, as I pointed out, Celsus also implicitly conveys the information that Christians do not expect a future coming of the son of God (whereas Jews do). But this is probably not his actual experience, because he is treating the entire statement as a single entity.

I know you are seizing on the phrase about the son of God coming to earth, but there is also that phrase about the son of God coming in the future and setting things right. It all appears to be one and the same overall statement, not a listing of individual aspects.

ETA: By your way of reading this passage, if I were to say that I do not believe in mammals who fly on Christmas Eve and who pull a sleigh, you would accuse me of ignoring bats (which are mammals who fly, and probably do so on Christmas Eve just as they do on other nights), when I am obviously talking about Santa's reindeer as an overall concept, not about each separate element individually (mammals who fly, mammals who pull sleighs).
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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by Giuseppe » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:04 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:50 pm
By this same standard, as I pointed out, Celsus also implicitly conveys the information that Christians do not expect a future coming of the son of God (whereas Jews do). But this is probably not his actual experience, because he is treating the entire statement as a single entity.
that hypothesis is really too much weak, I mean: the existence of Christians who were not apocalypticists, since they would be already "satisfied" with a historical Christ in the past. Hence I may criticize the your use of "by this same standard": it is objectively not probable, quasi impossible, the presence of not-apocalypticist Christians by the time of Celsus. In my view, at least modern Catholics are an example of not-apocalypticist Christians.

I know you are seizing on the phrase about the son of God coming to earth, but there is also that phrase about the son of God coming in the future and setting things right. It all appears to be one and the same overall statement, not a listing of individual aspects.
I don't understand this your last point. Are you saying that "some Christians" and "the Jews" are the same group? I assume that they are introduced a priori as two groups in opposition between them, in particular in matter of apocalypticism. The opposition is that "some - not all - Christians" believe x, while all the Jews believe y. The implication is that the rest of the Christians not included by Celsus among these "certain Christians" share with all the Jews the same ideas about y.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by Ben C. Smith » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:13 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:04 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:50 pm
By this same standard, as I pointed out, Celsus also implicitly conveys the information that Christians do not expect a future coming of the son of God (whereas Jews do). But this is probably not his actual experience, because he is treating the entire statement as a single entity.
that hypothesis is really too much weak, I mean: the existence of Christians who were not apocalypticists, since they would be already "satisfied" with a historical Christ in the past. Hence I may criticize the your use of "by this same standard": it is objectively not probable, quasi impossible, the presence of not-apocalypticist Christians by the time of Celsus. In my view, at least modern Catholics are an example of not-apocalypticist Christians.
That is not my hypothesis, as I explicitly stated. That is your same standard of reading applied to a different part of the statement. It is not my fault that the consequences are uncomfortable for your viewpoint.
I don't understand this your last point. Are you saying that "some Christians" and "the Jews" are the same group?
No, of course not. I am saying that everything Celsus says in the name of these "certain Christians" (one group) comprises one statement: "there has already descended upon the earth a certain god or son of a god who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous."

And already we are at this familiar point where even the easiest concepts become impossible to convey. Carry on. I responded for the sake of lurkers who may not be familiar with your approach to things.
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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by Giuseppe » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:46 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:13 pm
I am saying that everything Celsus says in the name of these "certain Christians" (one group) comprises one statement: "there has already descended upon the earth a certain god or son of a god who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous."
my simple point is that, insofar Celsus talks only about a sub-group of Christians (in virtue of the word "certain") as having that belief, then eo ipso he is assuming NECESSARILY the existence of the other Christian sub-group: other Christians who denied precisely the statement: "there has already descended upon the earth a certain god or son of a god who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous".

About the possible identity of this implicit sub-group, I can only think about Christians who adored a Christ who was crucified not on earth.

The difference with the example raised by Ben about Santa, is that by saying: I don't believe in mammals flying etc", it is not required necessarily the implicit existence of people who think the opposite thing (existence of bats or of Santa).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by GakuseiDon » Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:21 pm

Giuseppe wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:46 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:13 pm
I am saying that everything Celsus says in the name of these "certain Christians" (one group) comprises one statement: "there has already descended upon the earth a certain god or son of a god who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous."
my simple point is that, insofar Celsus talks only about a sub-group of Christians (in virtue of the word "certain") as having that belief, then eo ipso he is assuming NECESSARILY the existence of the other Christian sub-group: other Christians who denied precisely the statement: "there has already descended upon the earth a certain god or son of a god who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous".

About the possible identity of this implicit sub-group, I can only think about Christians who adored a Christ who was crucified not on earth.
What about the group of Christians who thought that Jesus was simply a "man of men", which you asked about recently in your Justin Martyr thread? Might they be a possible sub-group here?
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:38 pm

I think there's a lot more to the start of Contra Celsum IV to unpack, especially commentary or rhetoric around prophecy and its role, -

Contra Celsum, Book IV


Chapter 1

... we now, reverend Ambrosius, with prayer to God through Christ, offer this fourth book as a reply to what follows. And we pray that words may be given us, as it is written in the book of Jeremiah that the Lord said to the prophet: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth as fire. See, I have set you this day over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, and to build and to plant."

For we need words now which will root out of every wounded soul the reproaches uttered against 'the truth' by this treatise of Celsus, or which proceed from opinions like his. And we need also thoughts which will pull down all edifices based on 'false opinions', and especially the edifice raised by Celsus in his work ... Yea, we even require a wisdom which will throw down all high things that rise against the knowledge of God, and especially that height of arrogance which Celsus displays against us ...

... For, arraying himself at the same time against both parties — against the Jews on the one hand, who deny that the advent of Christ has taken place, but who expect it as future, and against Christians on the other, who acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ spoken of in prophecy— he [Celsus] makes the following statement:—

Chapter 2

"But that certain Christians and (all) Jews should maintain, the former that there has already descended, the latter that there will descend, upon the earth a certain God, or Son of a God, who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous, is a most shameless assertion, and one the refutation of which does not need many words."

Now here he appears to pronounce correctly regarding not certain of the Jews, but all of them, that they imagine that there is a certain (God) who will descend upon the earth; and with regard to Christians, that certain of them say that He has already come down. For he means those who prove from the Jewish Scriptures that the advent of Christ has already taken place, and he seems to know that there are certain heretical sects which deny that Christ Jesus was predicted by the prophets. In the preceding pages, however, we have already discussed, to the best of our ability, the question of Christ having been 'the subject of prophecy', and therefore, to avoid tautology, we do not repeat much that might be advanced upon this head.

Observe, now, that if he [Celsus] had wished with a kind of apparent force to subvert faith in the prophetic writings, either with regard to the future or past advent of Christ, he ought to have set forth the prophecies themselves which we Christians and Jews quote in our discussions with each other. For in this way he would have appeared to turn aside those who are carried away by the plausible character of the prophetic statements, as he regards it, from assenting to their truth, and from believing, on account of these prophecies, that Jesus is the Christ; whereas now, being unable to answer the prophecies relating to Christ, or else not knowing at all what are the prophecies relating to Him, he brings forward no prophetic declaration, although there are countless numbers which refer to Christ; but he thinks that he prefers an accusation against the prophetic Scriptures, while he does not even state what he himself would call their plausible character!

He is not, however, aware that it is not at all the Jews who say that Christ will descend as a God, or [as] the Son of a God, as we have shown in the foregoing pages. And when he asserts that he is said by us to have already come, but by the Jews that his advent as Messiah is still future, he appears, by the very charge, to censure our statement as one that is most shameless, and which needs no lengthened refutation.

Chapter 3

And he continues: "What is the meaning of such a descent upon the part of God?" not observing that, according to our teaching, the meaning of the descent is pre-eminently to convert what are called in the Gospel the lost sheep of the house of Israel; and secondly, to take away from them, on account of their disobedience, what is called the kingdom of God, and to give to other husbandmen than the ancient Jews, viz. to the Christians, who will render to God the fruits of His kingdom in due season ...

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04164.htm

The rhetoric goes on, getting more convoluted ...

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Re: Celsus claims that only SOME (τίνες) Christians believed that Christ was lived on earth

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:46 pm

There are complexities to Contra Celsum. The first is that Origen admits that a few chapters into it that he didn't like the original work and rewrote it. Is this Origen speaking or Eusebius? Because Eusebius seems to have also taken an interest in refuting Celsus as part of his war against pagan critics of Christianity (cf. Porphyry).

Indeed as it stands now Contra Celsum is NOT a handling of Celsus's True Word in the order the arguments appeared in that treatise. This is apparent when certain statements from Celsus's treatise appear twice in Contra Celsum.

The fact that Celsus's Jew appears first in Contra Celsum doesn't make sense from the point of view of Celsus's treatise. But Origen - or Eusebius - doesn't name the anti-Christian writer (Philo?) and takes special care to handle his arguments in the first two books of Contra Celsum.

BUT IF we take the order as it stands it would seem that the following words at the end of Book 3 form the context for the statements Giuseppe cites:
After having brought against us charges of so serious a kind, he wishes to make it appear that, although he has others to adduce, he passes them by in silence. His words are as follows: "These charges I have to bring against them, and others of a similar nature, not to enumerate them one by one, and I affirm that they are in error, and that they act insolently towards God, in order to lead 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 for them." In answer to which, it might be said that from the power which shows itself in those who are converted to Christianity, it is not at all the "wicked" who are won over to the Gospel, as the more simple class of persons, and, as many would term them, the "unpolished." For such individuals, through fear of the punishments that are threatened, which arouses and exhorts them to refrain from those actions which are followed by punishments, strive to yield themselves up to the Christian religion, being influenced by the power of the word to such a degree, that through fear of what are called in the word "everlasting punishments," they despise all the tortures which are devised against them among men,--even death itself, with countless other evils,--which no wise man would say is the act of persons of wicked mind. How can temperance and sober-mindedness, or benevolence and liberality, be practised by a man of wicked mind? Nay, even the fear of God cannot be felt by such an one, with respect to which, because it is useful to the many, the Gospel encourages those who are not yet able to choose that which ought to be chosen for its own sake, to select it as the greatest blessing, and one above all promise; for this principle cannot be implanted in him who prefers to live in wickedness.

CHAP. LXXIX.

But if in these matters any one were to imagine that it is superstition rather than wickedness which appears in the multitude of those who believe the word, and should charge our doctrine with making men superstitious, we shall answer him by saying that, as a certain legislators replied to the question of one who asked him whether he had enacted for his citizens the best laws, that he had not given them absolutely the best, but the best which they were capable of receiving; so it might be said by the Father of the Christian doctrine, I have given the best laws and instruction for the improvement of morals of which the many were capable, not threatening sinners with imaginary labours and chastisements, but with such as are real, and necessary to be applied for the correction of those who offer resistance, although they do not at all understand the object of him who inflicts the punishment, nor the effect of the labours. For the doctrine of punishment is both attended with utility, and is agreeable to truth, and is stated in obscure terms with advantage. Moreover, as for the most part it is not the wicked whom the ambassadors of Christianity gain over, neither do we insult God. For we speak regarding Him both what is true, and what appears to be clear to the multitude, but not so clear to them as it is to those few who investigate the truths of the Gospel in a philosophical manner.

CHAP. LXXX.

Seeing, however, that Celsus alleges that "Christians are won over by us through vain hopes," we thus' reply to him when he finds fault with our doctrine of the blessed life, and of communion with God: "As for you, good sir, they also are won over by vain hopes who have accepted the doctrine of Pythagoras and Plato regarding the soul, that it is its nature to ascend to the vaults of heaven, and in the super-celestial space to behold the sights which are seen by the blessed spectators above. According to you, O Celsus, they also who have accepted the doctrine of the duration of the soul (after death), and who lead a life through which they become heroes, and make their abodes with the gods, are won over by vain hopes. Probably also they who are persuaded that the soul comes (into the body) from without, and that it will be withdrawn from the power of death, would be said by Celsus to be won over by empty hopes. Let him then come forth to the contest, no longer concealing the sect to which he belongs, but confessing himself to be an Epicurean, and let him meet the arguments, which are not lightly advanced among Greeks and Barbarians, regarding the immortality of the soul, or its duration (after death), or the immortality of the thinking principle;, and let him prove that these are words which deceive with empty hopes those who give their aSsent to them; but that the adherents of his philosophical system are pure from empty hopes, and that they indeed lead to hopes of good, or--what is more in keeping with his opinions--give birth to no hope at all, on account of the immediate and complete destruction of the soul (after death). Unless, perhaps, Celsus and the Epicureans will deny that it is a vain hope which they entertain regarding their end,--pleasure,--which, according to them, is the supreme good, and which consists in the permanent health of the body, and the hope regarding it which is entertained by Epicurus.

CHAP. LXXXI.

And do not suppose that it is not in keeping with the Christian religion for me to have accepted, against Celsus, the opinions of those philosophers who have treated of the immortality or after-duration of the soul; for, holding certain views in common with them, we shall more conveniently establish our position, that the future life of blessedness shall be for those only who have accepted the religion which is according to Jesus, and that devotion towards the Creator of all things which is pure and sincere, and un-mingled with any created thing whatever. And let him who likes show what "better things" we persuade men to despise, and let him compare the blessed end with God in Christ,--that is, the word, and the wisdom, and all virtue;-which, according to our view, shall be bestowed, by the gift of God, on those who have lived a pure and blameless life, and who have felt a single and undivided love for the God of all things, with that end which is to follow according to the teaching of each philosophic sect, whether it be Greek or Barbarian, or according to the professions of religious mysteries; and let him prove that the end which is predicted by any of the others is superior to that which we promise, and consequently that that is true, and ours not befitting the gift of God, nor those who have lived a good life; or let him prove that these words were not spoken by the divine Spirit, who filled the souls of the holy prophets. And let him who likes show that those words which are acknowledged among all men to be human, are superior to those which are proved to be divine, and uttered by inspiration. And what are the "better" things from which we teach those who receive them that it would be better to abstain? For if it be not arrogant so to speak, it is self-evident that nothing can be denied which is better than to entrust oneself to the God of all, and yield oneself up to the doctrine which raises us above all created things, and brings us, through the animate and living word--which is also living wisdom and the Son of God--to God who is over all. However, as the third book of our answers to the treatise of Celsus has extended to a sufficient length, we shall here bring our present remarks to a close, and in what is to follow shall meet what Celsus has subsequently written.
“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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