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Monday, May 22, 2023

Origen vs Celsus

I have been wading through the long argument of Origen as he refutes Celsus' attack on Christianity. Just to refresh the memory, Origen wrote in the 200's and Celsus in the 100's. It seems to me that Celsus' arguments must have had a continual negative effect for Christianity, a thorn in its side, for such a renowned man as Origen to write a refutation in exquisite detail, seemingly sentence by sentence, a hundred years later.

This morning I read several things I want to share with you.

He mentions that some of the Bible is written as a Hebrew figure of speech, some as allegory, and all so that people at different levels can understand from where they are, that is, the simple at the surface level and deeper and deeper as spiritual senses develop.

One figure of speech mentioned is the famous the eye of the needle for a camel to go through. He says it is a figure of speech meaning the straight and narrow. He says the rich and the poor are not what can be seen, but rather rich or poor in wisdom, understanding, and discernment.

Apparently. Celsus said that the saying It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom God, is from Plato. Plato said it thusly, It is impossible to be distinguished for goodness and at the same time riches. Origen's argument is that Jesus was not acquainted with classics or any literature for that matter. The flaw I see in that argument is that he was apparently raised in Nazareth, a short 4 kilometer walk to Sephoris, the capital of Galilee and on a caravan trail. His father, a builder, would have found work there, as would his apprentice son. There a person would be exposed to many people and many ideas. I imagine he would have heard any number of exciting ideas discussed and argued from people of many diverse regions.

Another figure of speech he mentions is from the 18th Psalm, He made darkness his secret place. Origen said that God is hidden from those not ready or are unable to face His splendor and His deepest Truths. This is another example of the message available at different levels to folks at different levels. 

Later, Jesus took his disciples apart to teach them sayings the multitude were not ready for, so he obviously taught at various levels.

Oh Divine Presence, prepare our hearts to receive ever deeper and deeper understanding of You. Lead us on Your Path, leading us ever farther. Open our inner senses to You. Lead us away from the simple surface to dwell in Understanding and Communion with You.

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