The Veil : Contemplating the Christian Tradition


Contra Celsus


5 : 59

Book 5, Chapter 59


Celsus then continues: "The Jews accordingly, and these (clearly meaning the Christians), have the same God;" and as if advancing a proposition which would not be conceded, he proceeds to make the following assertion: "It is certain, indeed, that the members of the great Church admit this, and adopt as true the accounts regarding the creation of the world which are current among the Jews, viz., concerning the six days and the seventh;" on which day, as the Scripture says, God "ceased" from His works, retiring into the contemplation of Himself, but on which, as Celsus says (who does not abide by the letter of the history, and who does not understand its meaning), God"rested,"\a term which is not found in the record. With respect, however, to the creation of the world, and the "rest which is reserved after it for the people of God," the subject is extensive, and mystical, and profound, and difficult of explanation. In the next place, as it appears to me, from a desire to fill up his book, and to give it an appearance of importance, he recklessly adds certain statements, such as the following, relating to the first man, of whom he says:"We give the same account as do the Jews, and deduce the same genealogy from him as they do." However, as regards "the conspiracies of brothers against one another," we know of none such, save that Cain conspired against Abel, and Esau against Jacob; but not Abel against Cain, nor Jacob against Esau: for if this had been the case, Celsus would have been correct in saying that we give the same accounts as do the Jews of "the conspiracies of brothers against one another." Let it be granted, however, that we speak of the same descent into Egypt as they, and of their return thence, which was not a "flight," as Celsus considers it to have been, what does that avail towards founding an accusation against us or against the Jews? Here, indeed, he thought to cast ridicule upon us, when, in speaking of the Hebrew people, he termed their exodus a "flight;" but when it was his business to investigate the account of the punishments inflicted by God upon Egypt, that topic he purposely passed by in silence.