Book II. (C0nt.)
After this the Jew remarks, manifestly in accordance with the Jewish belief: “We certainly hope that there will be a bodily resurrection, and that we shall enjoy an eternal life; and the example and archetype of this will be He who is sent to us, and who will show that nothing is impossible with God.” We do not know, indeed, whether the Jew would say of the expected I Christ, that He exhibits in Himself an example of the resurrection; but let it be supposed that he both thinks and says so. We shall give this answer, then, to him who has told us that he drew his information from our own writings: “Did you read those writings, friend, in which you think you discover matter of accusation against us, and not find there the resurrection of Jesus, and the declaration that He was the first-born from the dead? Or because you will not allow such things to have been recorded, were they not actually recorded?” But as the Jew still admits the resurrection of the body, I do not consider the present a suitable time to discuss the subject with one who both believes and says that there is a bodily resurrection, whether he has an articulate115 understanding of such a topic, and is able to plead well on its behalf,116 or not, but has only given his assent to it as being of a legendary character.117 Let the above, then, be our reply to this Jew of Celsus. And when he adds, “Where, then, is he, that we may see him and believe upon him?” we answer: Where is He now who spoke in the prophecies, and who wrought miracles, that we may see and believe that He is part of God? Are you to be allowed to meet the objection, that God does not perpetually show Himself to the Hebrew nation, while we are not to be permitted the same defence with regard to Jesus, who has both once risen Himself, and led His disciples to believe in His resurrection, and so thoroughly persuaded them of its truth, that they show to all men by their sufferings how they are able to laugh at all the troubles of life, beholding the life eternal and the resurrection clearly demonstrated to them both in word and deed?
The Jew continues: “Did Jesus come into the world for this purpose, that we should not believe him?” To which we immediately answer, that He did not come with the object of producing incredulity among the Jews; but knowing beforehand that such would be the result, He foretold it, and made use of their unbelief for the calling of the Gentiles. For through their sin salvation came to the Gentiles, respecting whom the Christ who speaks in the prophecies says, “A people whom I did not know became subject to Me: they were obedient to the hearing of My ear;” (cf. 2Sa_22:44, 2Sa_22:45) and, “I was found of them who sought Me not; I became manifest to those who inquired not after Me.” (cf. Isa_65:1) It is certain, moreover, that the Jews were punished even in this present life, after treating Jesus in the manner in which they did. And let the Jews assert what they will when we charge them with guilt, and say, “Is not the providence and goodness of God most wonderfully displayed in your punishment, and in your being deprived of Jerusalem, and of the sanctuary, and of your splendid worship?” For whatever they may say in reply with respect to the providence of God, we shall be able more effectually to answer it by remarking, that the providence of God was wonderfully manifested in using the transgression of that people for the purpose of calling into the kingdom of God, through Jesus Christ, those from among the Gentiles who were strangers to the covenant and aliens to the promises. And these things were foretold by the prophets, who said that, on account of the transgressions of the Hebrew nation, God would make choice, not of a nation, but of individuals chosen from all lands;118 and, having selected the foolish things of the world, would cause an ignorant nation to become acquainted with the divine teaching, the kingdom of God being taken from the one and given to the other. And out of a larger number it is sufficient on the present occasion to adduce the prediction from the song in Deuteronomy regarding the calling of the Gentiles, which is as follows, being spoken in the person of the Lord “They have moved Me to jealousy with those who are not gods; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols: and I will move them to jealousy with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” (cf. Deu_32:21)
The conclusion of all these arguments regarding Jesus is thus stated by the Jew: “He was therefore a man, and of such a nature, as the truth itself proves, and reason demonstrates him to be.” I do not know, however, whether a man who had the courage to spread throughout the entire world his doctrine of religious worship and teaching,119 could accomplish what he wished without the divine assistance, and could rise superior to all who withstood the progress of his doctrine – kings and rulers, and the Roman senate, and governors in all places, and the common people. And how could the nature of a man possessed of no inherent excellence convert so vast a multitude? For it would not be wonderful if it were only the wise who were so convened; but it is the most irrational of men, and those devoted to their passions, and who, by reason of their irrationality, change with the greater difficulty so as to adopt a more temperate course of life. And yet it is because Christ was the power of God and the wisdom of the Father that He accomplished, and still accomplishes, such results, although neither the Jews nor Greeks who disbelieve His word will so admit. And therefore we shall not cease to believe in God, according to the precepts of Jesus Christ, and to seek to convert those who are blind on the subject of religion, although it is they who are truly blind themselves that charge us with blindness: and they, whether Jews or Greeks, who lead astray those that follow them, accuse us of seducing men – a good seduction, truly! – that they may become temperate instead of dissolute, or at least may make advances to temperance; may become just instead of unjust, or at least may tend to become so; prudent instead of foolish, or be on the way to become such; and instead of cowardice, meanness, and timidity, may exhibit the virtues of fortitude and courage, especially displayed in the struggles undergone for the sake of their religion towards God, the Creator of all things. Jesus Christ therefore came announced beforehand, not by one prophet, but by all; and it was a proof of the ignorance of Celsus, to represent a Jew as saying that one prophet only had predicted the advent of Christ. But as this Jew of Celsus, after being thus introduced, asserting that these things were indeed in conformity with his own law, has somewhere here ended his discourse, with a mention of other matters not worthy of remembrance, I too shall here terminate this second book of my answer to his treatise. But if God permit, and the power of Christ abide in my soul, I shall endeavour in the third book to deal with the subsequent statements of Celsus.
115 εἶτε διαρθροῦντα τὸ τοιοῦτον παρ ἑαυτῷ.
116 καὶ δυνάμενον πρεσβεῦσαι περὶ τοῦ λόγου καλῶς.
117 ἀλλὰ μυθικώτερον συγκατατιθέμενον τῷ λόγῳ.
118 οὐχὶ ἔθνος, ἀλλὰ λογάδας πανταχόθεν.
119 τὴν κατ αὐτὸν θεοσέβειαν καὶ διδασκαλίαν.