The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

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Giuseppe
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The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by Giuseppe »

Where Celsus is very close to put implicitly in doubt the historicity of Jesus is when he raises the accusation that 'the doctrine is secret'. The only way a such claim can be interpreted as an accusation, is that the secret belief is radically different from the public belief, to the point of being a denial of it.
That just that is the implication (a denial of the exoteric belief), is made clear by the Origen's reply: how can the doctrine be secret, when all the world knows that Jesus was crucified on the earth?


Moreover, since he frequently calls the Christian doctrine a secret system (of belief), we must confute him on this point also, since almost the entire world is better acquainted with what Christians preach than with the favourite opinions of philosophers. For who is ignorant of the statement that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that He was crucified, and that His resurrection is an article of faith among many, and that a general judgment is announced to come, in which the wicked are to be punished according to their deserts, and the righteous to be duly rewarded? And yet the mystery of the resurrection, not being understood, is made a subject of ridicule among unbelievers. In these circumstances, to speak of the Christian doctrine as a secret system, is altogether absurd. But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are (revealed) after the exoteric ones have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and others esoteric. Some of the hearers of Pythagoras were content with his ipse dixit; while others were taught in secret those doctrines which were not deemed fit to be communicated to profane and insufficiently prepared ears. Moreover, all the mysteries that are celebrated everywhere throughout Greece and barbarous countries, although held in secret, have no discredit thrown upon them, so that it is in vain that he endeavours to calumniate the secret doctrines of Christianity, seeing he does not correctly understand its nature.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by GakuseiDon »

Giuseppe wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 9:25 am Where Celsus is very close to put implicitly in doubt the historicity of Jesus is when he raises the accusation that 'the doctrine is secret'. The only way a such claim can be interpreted as an accusation, is that the secret belief is radically different from the public belief, to the point of being a denial of it.
That's right. It was a common accusation against Christians: that they'd meet in secret, have orgies ("love-feasts"), invoke demons. From Origin's "Against Celsus", Book 1:
https://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ ... en161.html

The first point which Celsus brings forward, in his desire to throw discredit upon Christianity, is, that the Christians entered into secret associations with each other contrary to law, saying, that "of associations some are public, and that these are in accordance with the laws; others, again, secret, and maintained in violation of the laws." And his wish is to bring into disrepute what are termed the "love-feasts " of the Christians, as if they had their origin in the common danger, and were more binding than any oaths...

After this, Celsus proceeding to speak of the Christians teaching and practising their favourite doctrines in secret, and saying that they do this to,some purpose, seeing they escape the penalty of death which is imminent, he compares their dangers with those which were encountered by such men as Socrates for the sake of philosophy; and here he might have mentioned Pythagoras as well, and other philosophers...

After this, through the influence of some motive which is unknown to me, Celsus asserts that it is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of (miraculous) power; hinting, I suppose, at the practices of those who expel evil spirits by incantations... And he next proceeds to bring a charge against the Saviour Himself, alleging that it was by means of sorcery that He was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed...

Moreover, since he frequently calls the Christian doctrine a secret system (of belief), we must confute him on this point also, since almost the entire world is better acquainted with what Christians preach than with the favourite opinions of philosophers... And yet the mystery of the resurrection, not being understood, is made a subject of ridicule among unbelievers. In these circumstances, to speak of the Christian doctrine as a secret system, is altogether absurd. But that there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are (revealed) after the exoteric ones have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and others esoteric.

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Giuseppe
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Re: The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by Giuseppe »

Note that Celsus is accusing "often" the doctrine of 'secrecy', not the actions (even if he had defamed also the secret actions).

The secrecy of the doctrine is not a descriptive fact (as it would be to describe the other mysteric religions). It is used evidently by Celsus as an accusation against the Christians, as if the mere presence of a secret doctrine goes to deny everything said by the Christians publicly.

To deny, or at least to doubt.

Not coincidentially, the apologist Origen has realized the implication (a doubt extended on the real belief of the Christians) and accordingly his apology is: we Christians are completely transparent, our belief is transparent, our belief (that Jesus was crucified on the earth) is known by all the world, how can you doubt about it?

The obvious implication is that the people there out were really doubting about it.

It is called mythicism.
StephenGoranson
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Re: The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by StephenGoranson »

Not really, unless you also claim Pythagoras never existed.
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Giuseppe
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Re: The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by Giuseppe »

StephenGoranson wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 10:33 am Not really, unless you also claim Pythagoras never existed.
The irony of the case is that you are going to reply to me just as Origen replied to Celsus:
also the other doctrines are secret, so what?

The point is that Celsus is not describing the secrecy of the doctrine. Celsus is accusing the secrecy of the doctrine.

The argument is not: the extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

The argument is: the secrecy of the doctrine raises a doubt about what the Christians mean really when they say that Jesus was crucified.

It is mythicism. Isn't it?
StephenGoranson
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Re: The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by StephenGoranson »

No.
Again: are you claiming Pythagoras never existed?
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Giuseppe
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Re: The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by Giuseppe »

Origen wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 10:40 am No.
Again: are you claiming Pythagoras never existed?
Another error by you:
  • Pythagoras introduced the secrecy in his own doctrine.
  • Celsus is accusing the Christians of secrecy in their doctrine, he isn't accusing Jesus himself of having introduced the secrecy.
The secrecy by Pythagoras doesn't raise the doubt about the historicity of Pythagoras himself.
The secrecy of the Christian doctrine raises the doubt about what they really mean, when they say that Jesus was crucified.

Please like the difference.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by GakuseiDon »

Minucius Felix's "Octavian" (my favorite piece of ancient writing!) also lays out the pagan accusations against the secrecy of Christians and their doctrine. The pagan Caecilius accuses Christians of being secretive about their rites which means they must be ashamed of them:
https://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ ... avius.html

"And now, as wickeder things advance more fruitfully, and abandoned manners creep on day by day, those abominable shrines of an impious assembly are maturing themselves throughout the whole world. Assuredly this confederacy ought to be rooted out and execrated. They know one another by secret marks and insignia, and they love one another almost before they know one another. Everywhere also there is mingled among them a certain religion of lust, and they call one another promiscuously brothers and sisters, that even a not unusual debauchery may by the intervention of that sacred name become incestuous: it is thus that their vain and senseless superstition glories in crimes. Nor, concerning these things, would intelligent report speak of things so great and various, and requiring to be prefaced by an apology, unless truth were at the bottom of it. I hear that they adore the head of an ass, that basest of creatures, consecrated by I know not what silly persuasion,--a worthy and appropriate religion for such manners. Some say that they worship the virilia of their pontiff and priest, and adore the nature, as it were, of their common parent. I know not whether these things are false; certainly suspicion is applicable to secret and nocturnal rites; and he who explains their ceremonies by reference to a man punished by extreme suffering for his wickedness, and to the deadly wood of the cross, appropriates fitting altars for reprobate and wicked men, that they may worship what they deserve. Now the story about the initiation of young novices is as much to be detested as it is well known. An infant covered over with meal, that it may deceive the unwary, is placed before him who is to be stained with their rites: this infant is slain by the young pupil, who has been urged on as if to harmless blows on the surface of the meal, with dark and secret wounds.

Thirstily--O horror!--they lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this victim they are pledged together; with this consciousness of wickedness they are covenanted to mutual silence. Such sacred rites as these are more foul than any sacrileges. And of their banqueting it is well known all men speak of it everywhere; even the speech of our Cirtensian testifies to it. On a solemn day they assemble at the feast, with all their children, sisters, mothers, people of every sex and of every age. There, after much feasting, when the fellowship has grown warm, and the fervour of incestuous lust has grown hot with drunkenness, a dog that has been tied to the chandelier is provoked, by throwing a small piece of offal beyond the length of a line by which he is bound, to rush and spring; and thus the conscious light being overturned and extinguished in the shameless darkness, the connections of abominable lust involve them in the uncertainty of fate. Although not all in fact, yet in consciousness all are alike incestuous, since by the desire of all of them everything is sought for which can happen in the act of each individual...
...
"I purposely pass over many things, for those that I have mentioned are already too many; and that all these, or the greater part of them, are true, the obscurity of their vile religion declares. For why do they endeavour with such pains to conceal and to cloak whatever they worship, since honourable things always rejoice in publicity, while crimes are kept secret? Why have they no altars, no temples, no acknowledged images? Why do they never speak openly, never congregate freely, unless for the reason that what they adore and conceal is either worthy of punishment, or something to be ashamed of? Moreover, whence or who is he, or where is the one God, solitary, desolate, whom no free people, no kingdoms, and not even Roman superstition, have known? The lonely and miserable nationality of the Jews worshipped one God, and one peculiar to itself; but they worshipped him openly, with temples, with altars, with victims, and with ceremonies; and he has so little force or power, that he is enslaved, with his own special nation, to the Roman deities. But the Christians, moreover, what wonders, what monstrosities do they feign!--that he who is their God, whom they can neither show nor behold, inquires diligently into the character of all, the acts of all, and, in fine, into their words and secret thoughts; that he runs about everywhere, and is everywhere present: they make him out to be troublesome, restless, even shamelessly inquisitive, since he is present at everything that is done, wanders in and out in all places, although, being occupied with the whole, he cannot give attention to particulars, nor can he be sufficient for the whole while he is busied with particulars.

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Giuseppe
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Re: The claim "The doctrine is secret" is an accusation only if the public doctrine is DENIED

Post by Giuseppe »

GakuseiDon wrote: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:46 pmThe pagan Caecilius accuses Christians of being secretive about their rites
But the actions of the cult are not the object of the accusation. Celsus accuses "often" the Christian doctrine of being secret. Which virtually put in doubt the his own certainty about the official version (earthly crucifixion in primis).

People accuse an institution of secrecy (for example, talking about the existence of the Deep State) when they don't believe the public message by it. In this case, it is sufficient the claim: "The Deep State exists" as an act of accusation, and the inference is already visible even if not said: the official propaganda is false (and not believed true even by the insiders).

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