Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Pit of Resurrection

Virtually nothing is known of Celsus, a late second century Greek philosopher, other than the fact that in the 170s AD he wrote a major work, called the True Discourse, devoted to debunking Christianity. Ironically, the text is preserved and known to us only because some eighty years later the early Church Father Origen wrote a massive reply to Celsus, in eight volumes, in which Origen quoted from Celsus's arguments at length before refuting them.

Surprisingly, the brief Wikipedia article on Celsus does not quote his most well known bit of invective, which displays an acid wit. I therefore thought I'd share it with you. Origen quotes it in Chapter 34 of Book 6 of his response, Contra Celsum:

Everywhere in their [the Christians'] writings, mention is made of the tree of life, and a resurrection of the flesh by means of the “tree,” because, I imagine, their teacher was nailed to a cross, and was a carpenter by trade; so that if he had chanced to have been cast from a precipice, or thrust into a pit, or suffocated by hanging, or had been a leather-cutter, or stone-mason, or worker in iron, there would have been a precipice of life beyond the heavens, or a pit of resurrection, or a rope of immortality, or a blessed stone, or an iron of love, or a sacred leather! Now what old woman would not be ashamed to utter such things in a whisper, even when making stories to lull an infant to sleep?

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