Eclectic Platonist philosopher, perhaps of Egyptian origin, who wrote under Marcus Aurelius. He lived at Rome and got to know the contemporary movements of ideas, composing ca. 178 his True Discourse, the first antiChristian polemical work. The work is lost; we know it only through the numerous textual citations, of unequal length, in Origen’s Against Celsus. Modern historians like Andresen have tried to free Celsus from Origen’s image of him. The work first develops the attacks of a Jew against Christ I-III, which perhaps uses a Jewish anti-Christian work, then attacks Judaism, Christianity’s source IV-V. Celsus then accuses the Christians of having copied the sages of Greece VI-VII, and finally criticizes the political stance of Christians, who exclude themselves from the city VII, 62VIII. Celsus opposed both Judaism and Christianity with the ancient doctrine in a traditional sense, that which from the beginning has been known by the wisest people, by cities and by men Orig., C. Cels. I, 14. He reproved Christianity for its novelty, which disturbed this tranquil inheritance. He accused Christians of attaching themselves to a faith they could not rationally justify, and of totally lacking any critical sense. In particular he considered Christ’s incarnation a contradiction of divine transcendence and the order that rules the world. Celsus’s sources of information were obscure and limited. He knew fragments of Scripture and may have been replying to Justin Martyr Andresen; Q. Cataudella disagrees. For J. Schwartz, he influenced Lucian and the Letter to Diognetus. J.M. Vermander researched traces of him in the apologists, Tertullian Apolog. 21, Minucius Felix Octavius 10-12 and Theophilus Ad Autol. III, which seemed to be replying to the True Discourse.
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