Here's a Present, Ish

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Postby Ishtar » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:10 am

seeker wrote:
Only if you accept Origen's word on the matter. That's a bit like taking Adolf Hitler's word on how evil Churchill was.


No, Seeker. You have presumed wrongly ... and if anything, it is you who is buying the victors' account of what was happening within Christianity in the region, as they did their best to wipe out any vestiges of the Gnostic influence, and that's probably why Celsus's version resonates with you.

I have posted copious amounts of information from many historians and Gnostic detractors throughout the Philo thread about the influence and scope of the Gnostics' presence throughout the region, and particularly in Asia Minor and Alexandria. This is where Gibbon got his information from when he wrote about the same thing, and was ostracised for it.
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Postby Ishtar » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:36 am

Guys - thank you for my present, but I'm out of this thread.

It gets really tiring for me to keep repeating myself over and over to people who don't want to hear. I've posted tons of evidence throughout the Philo thread to show how prevalent Gnosticism was at the time, and particularly in Asia and Alexandria. But you don't read my posts, and even when you do, you still prefer to believe the history written by the very people you despise.

Min, you spend whole posts knocking down arguments that I haven't made and in fact, my point would often be the direct opposite. You don't read my posts ... or you read them too quickly .. and I'm tired of posting information for no-one to bother to read it properly, or for you to make false assumptions about me and why I say something.

Seeker, you are just negative. You seek to knock down everything I say almost, it seems, for the sake of it. I think it's just a game to you.

So to me, this is not an intelligent discussion, and so I'm out of here.



.
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Postby seeker » Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:26 am

Ish - While I respect your position I think you are guilty of projecting onto me the flaw you are making in this thread. All along your argument is based on an evaluation of Origen as Gnostic, which he wasn't, and Celsus as ignorant when his arguments are only known through Origen.

This false equivalence you tried to draw between atheism and Christianity is indicative of an assumption that the process of evaluation is the same for believers and non-believers. I think that your assumption of Celsus as an agnostic and then as not knowing what he was talking about, especially when the perception of him is from as biased a source as Origen is the result of that particular bias. the fact is that Origen is unlikely to have written anything positive about Celsus.

Neither of us are arguing that Gnosticism wasn't strong in Asia but you don't find Gnosticism in the writings preserved by the Church. They specifically avoided copying anything positive about Gnosticism. More to the point is the fact that Literal Christianity was emerging as a strong faction in this period that was unique to Christianity and promoted itself as the only Christianity. I'd be willing to bet that Gnostics of the time were ashamed of them.
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Postby Minimalist » Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:14 am

So you are saying, I think, that Christianity was a crime because Christians wouldn't bow down to the Roman emperor.



I would say that is it in a nutshell.

Moreover, it seems to have evolved over the second-third centuries as conditions on the ground changed.

When Trajan ruled the crime was not sacrificing to the Roman gods. We don't know if anyone aside from xtians failed to live up to this because the only literature we have is xtian. By Decius, in 250, the xtians were numerous enough to have put themselves directly in the crosshairs. But even then, actual persecution was episodic.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby Minimalist » Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:16 pm

On the one hand, Celsus complains about the secrecy of the Christians, which if he would have completely understood the value of if he was an initiate of the Mysteries.



Again, "religion" is not the issue, sedition is the issue. We have nothing to suggest that the other mystery cults refused to pay homage to the Roman gods...including by this time, the imperial cult which meant the emperor himself. What put xtians under suspicion was their alleged refusal to sacrifice to the Roman gods while worshipping whoever else they wanted. If they were the only group which made such refusal...and Pliny's letter suggests that even they weren't willing to die wholesale for the idea...then it makes perfect sense to me that they would be regarded as deviants by the powers-that-be.

And that power retaliates.


What I find interesting in Celsus' writing is the idea that the concept of religious "uniformity" (which was later seized upon by Constantine and his thugs with such dire ramifications for Western Thought) was already in existence in the late second century.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby Minimalist » Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:21 pm

and Celsus as ignorant



Actually, seeker, I think that Celsus comes across as a snob but given that this was a highly class-conscious society it is probably not all that unreasonable for the philosophers to think everyone else was an idiot.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby seeker » Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:21 pm

Minimalist wrote:
and Celsus as ignorant



Actually, seeker, I think that Celsus comes across as a snob but given that this was a highly class-conscious society it is probably not all that unreasonable for the philosophers to think everyone else was an idiot.
I agree but that doesn't excuse our discounting what may be an otherwise solid argument.
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Postby Minimalist » Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:07 pm

Yes, sometimes an idiot is just an idiot....but don't get me started on Bush.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin
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Postby seeker » Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:45 pm

We should have known what would happen when we put Dick and Bush in office.
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Postby Minimalist » Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:53 pm

I knew but no one listens to me.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby Ishtar » Tue Sep 09, 2008 4:07 am

That’s really chivalrous of you, Seeker – mounting an attack on me after I’d said I was leaving the thread. So now I feel forced to reply, to iron out this false picture that you’ve painted of what my views are and how I reached them.

seeker wrote:Ish - While I respect your position I think you are guilty of projecting onto me the flaw you are making in this thread. All along your argument is based on an evaluation of Origen as Gnostic, which he wasn't, and Celsus as ignorant when his arguments are only known through Origen.


I respect your position too – and I thought that went without saying. But I think you are guilty of the following, and not just in this thread: I can put up ten strong planks to an argument, with one slightly weaker than the rest. You pull out the slightly weaker one and hold it up as proof that my whole argument falls flat.

There’s probably a Latin phrase for that kind of debating tactic, but I don’t know what it is. This is not a projection - it is what you are doing.

The slightly weaker plank is Origen, because we know so little about him, that we can be sure of. But we can be sure of the following:

Fact: Origen taught in a way that we now call Gnostic. Fact: Celsus was writing in Alexandria c 175-180 CE. Fact, as I have shown in copious posts, there is no doubt that, at the time, Christianity in Alexandria was mainly what we call Gnostic. Fact: I have to rely on Origen’s account of The True Word, as it is the only evidence remaining of it. Conclusion: Celsus should have known that there was more to Christianity than Literalism.

How could he have missed it? Hadrian didn’t. When he went to Alexandria in the second century, he found Christians along with an Egyptian bishop worshipping Serapis and studying Pythagorus.

Gibbon tells us that Gnosticism arose in Asia and Egypt during the second century and boomed during the third. We know that Ignatus rails against them at the beginning of the second century, as does Hippolytus.

Origen read the scriptures as allegories, which makes him a Gnostic in our eyes. No-one called themselves Gnostic then. This is a term we’ve given them, a sort of collective noun for all those who read the Jesus stories as allegoric, rather than literal, and who used the scriptures as part of a wider wisdom teaching, and not to teach history.

Even the Christians at Wiki would group Origen with the Gnostics. They compare his teachings to the great Pagan Gnostic, Plotinus, and in fact Origen and Plotinus were pupils of the same school philosophic school, the Platonist Ammonius in Alexandria. Far from being a Literalist, Origen taught the doctrine of karma and the reincarnation of souls, and that Christ was the Logos. In fact, his teachings were not dissimilar, in that respect, to those of Philo's.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen

...[In his book] Peri Archon (First Principles), he articulated the first philosophical exposition of Christian doctrine.[3] He interpreted scripture allegorically and showed himself to be a Neo-Pythagorean, and Neo-Platonist.[3] Like Plotinus, he wrote that the soul passes through successive stages of incarnation before eventually reaching God.[3] He imagined even demons being reunited with God. For Origen, God was the First Principle, and Christ, the Logos, was subordinate to him.[3] His views of a hierarchical structure in the Trinity, the temporality of matter, "the fabulous preexistence of souls," and "the monstrous restoration which follows from it" were declared anathema in the 6th century.[4]


I hope that makes Origen clearer for you.

seeker wrote:This false equivalence you tried to draw between atheism and Christianity is indicative of an assumption that the process of evaluation is the same for believers and non-believers.


I don’t actually know what you mean by that, or what you’re referring to.

I have made the point that just by debunking Literalist Christianity, one hasn’t debunked God, who (if he exists) had to have existed billions of years before Literal Christianity. And that’s not even to mention all other Gods/Allahs/Brahmans etc of other religions who are perceived in a form that is a million miles away from God being at the head of a hierarchy in which man is on lowest rung, which is the Judaeo-Christian vision of God.

And then even further – there is the God of the Gnostics and the Mystery Schools. That variety of God isn’t separate to man at all. He isn’t an overseer who has to be obeyed. These initiates came to understand, through a process that included these stories, but was not dependent on them, that they are God, that they are co-creators of their own reality, that they are all that is, that all that exists is I AM.

And then there’s the Serpent God ... and the sun... the list of how man perceived God over millennia is endless. So if anyone claims that they are an atheist solely on the strength of the debunking of Literal Christianity, and on nothing else, it is a non-sequiteur.

Or you could just start off from the base that there is no God because you choose to ... but that's just a matter of opinion, then, and thus has exactly the same value as those whose opinion is that there is a God.

seeker wrote: I think that your assumption of Celsus as an agnostic and then as not knowing what he was talking about, especially when the perception of him is from as biased a source as Origen is the result of that particular bias. The fact is that Origen is unlikely to have written anything positive about Celsus.


If you read your first sentence in that quote, you'll agree with me that it doesn’t make sense. So I cannot reply to it. But what bias, Seeker? I respect true atheism, which is arrived at after considering a myriad of possibilities. I am biased against the ignorance that bases its atheism solely on the fact that Jesus never lived as a human being, yes. That’s all. But everyone is biased from their own point of view, including you.

Origen’s purpose was not to write anything positive or negative about Celsus. His purpose to write an Apology to a letter from Celsus called The True Word, and the only evidence we have of it is in his and others’ writings.

The True Word had very little influence either on the mutual relations of Church and State, or on classical literature. Echoes of it are found in Tertullian and in Minucius Felix, and then it lay forgotten until Origen gave it new life. A good deal of the neo Platonic polemic naturally went back to Celsus, and both the ideas and phrases of The True Word are found in Porphyry and Julian, though the closing of the New Testament canon in the meantime somewhat changed the method of attack for these writers.


In other words, they were all philosophers arguing at a time before the canon was closed, and thus the dogma was not yet set in concrete. That is why a Gnostic like Origen could survive for as long as he did, although towards the end of his life, he was harried out.

seeker wrote:Neither of us are arguing that Gnosticism wasn't strong in Asia but you don't find Gnosticism in the writings preserved by the Church. They specifically avoided copying anything positive about Gnosticism.


You’re kidding! Really?

See, now I now you don’t read my posts, Seeker. You have just fed back to me the very point that I’ve been making over and over again on every thread on this subject.

The point is, the Literalist Christians today like to hold on to the idea of Origen as “one of the distinguished fathers of the Early Church”, because he was the only decent philosopher they had. So, in retrospect, they claimed him. But what was happening on the ground at the time was not so straightforward.

There was a lot of clerical and doctrinal infighting during the life of Origen, which tells us that this is probably when the Literalists were really beginning to make their presence felt. Origen was ordained by two bishops and refused ordination by another. This shows us the confusion at the time and that early Christianity was a hotpotch of different beliefs that hadn’t yet settled down into the two camps of Literalist and Gnostic. Plotinus, the pagan philosopher who teaching in Rome in the middle of the third century (when Origen was writing) treats Christianity as just another rival school that had developed from the teachings of Plato, just like his own.

Christian attacks on Origen started around 230 CE, and he wrote Contra Celsus 18 years later.

So at that time, Christianity was different shades of grey rather than black and white, and Celsus fails to perceive this, when others of the time do. I would suggest that that grey didn't separate out fully into the black and white of Gnostic and Literal Christianity until Constantine.

The whole point is, I’m not disagreeing with Celsus’s views on Literalist Christianity. What I am saying is, though, that he didn’t have the full picture and he actually didn’t have an excuse for not having the full picture. And if you agree with me, as you say you do, that Gnosticism was strong in Asia and Alexandria at the time, what are we arguing about?



.
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Postby seeker » Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:12 am

Ishtar wrote:That’s really chivalrous of you, Seeker – mounting an attack on me after I’d said I was leaving the thread. So now I feel forced to reply, to iron out this false picture that you’ve painted of what my views are and how I reached them.


I accept all compliments, even sarcastic ones 8)

Ishtar wrote:I respect your position too – and I thought that went without saying. But I think you are guilty of the following, and not just in this thread: I can put up ten strong planks to an argument, with one slightly weaker than the rest. You pull out the slightly weaker one and hold it up as proof that my whole argument falls flat.

There’s probably a Latin phrase for that kind of debating tactic, but I don’t know what it is. This is not a projection - it is what you are doing.

Actually you are assuming that I'm arguing about your overall point, that Gnosticism heavily influenced Christianity. I'm not, I happen to agree with you on that. The point I'm making was only about Celsus and Orgen.

I can agree with your overall thesis and disagree with aspects of your analysis. 8)

Ishtar wrote:The slightly weaker plank is Origen, because we know so little about him, that we can be sure of. But we can be sure of the following:

Fact: Origen taught in a way that we now call Gnostic.

This is not true. Origen was accused of hetrodoxy but his beliefs weren't particularly Gnostic. Neo-Platonism is not necessarily Gnostic. Here is a discussion of neoplatonism. The big difference is the absence of dualism, where Gnostics percieved a battle between good and evil neoplatonists saw the world as basically good but illusory.

Ishtar wrote:Fact: Celsus was writing in Alexandria c 175-180 CE. Fact, as I have shown in copious posts, there is no doubt that, at the time, Christianity in Alexandria was mainly what we call Gnostic. Fact: I have to rely on Origen’s account of The True Word, as it is the only evidence remaining of it. Conclusion: Celsus should have known that there was more to Christianity than Literalism.

Once again though you are coming to a false conclusion. I agree with the facts you've presented but as all we have is Origen's presentation of Celsus attacks on Literal Christianity we can't assume what he did or didn't know about Gnosticism. The fact that we have Origen's writings at all after years of only Literalist Christian scribes not copying Gnostic writings points at the probability that if Celsus had said anything positive about Gnosticism it wouldn't have been copied.

Ishtar wrote:How could he have missed it? Hadrian didn’t. When he went to Alexandria in the second century, he found Christians along with an Egyptian bishop worshipping Serapis and studying Pythagorus.

Gibbon tells us that Gnosticism arose in Asia and Egypt during the second century and boomed during the third. We know that Ignatus rails against them at the beginning of the second century, as does Hippolytus.

We don't know that he missed it. That is purely assumption based on very weak evidence.

Ishtar wrote:Origen read the scriptures as allegories, which makes him a Gnostic in our eyes. No-one called themselves Gnostic then. This is a term we’ve given them, a sort of collective noun for all those who read the Jesus stories as allegoric, rather than literal, and who used the scriptures as part of a wider wisdom teaching, and not to teach history.

Just because one reads the scriptures as allegory does make one Gnostic. If it did most modern Christians would be Gnostic. Gnosticism has specific characteristics that include dualism, a belief Origen did not have.

I agree that neoplatonism and Gnosticism share some beliefs but they are not the same thing.

Ishtar wrote:Even the Christians at Wiki would group Origen with the Gnostics. They compare his teachings to the great Pagan Gnostic, Plotinus, and in fact Origen and Plotinus were pupils of the same school philosophic school, the Platonist Ammonius in Alexandria. Far from being a Literalist, Origen taught the doctrine of karma and the reincarnation of souls, and that Christ was the Logos. In fact, his teachings were not dissimilar, in that respect, to those of Philo's.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen

...[In his book] Peri Archon (First Principles), he articulated the first philosophical exposition of Christian doctrine.[3] He interpreted scripture allegorically and showed himself to be a Neo-Pythagorean, and Neo-Platonist.[3] Like Plotinus, he wrote that the soul passes through successive stages of incarnation before eventually reaching God.[3] He imagined even demons being reunited with God. For Origen, God was the First Principle, and Christ, the Logos, was subordinate to him.[3] His views of a hierarchical structure in the Trinity, the temporality of matter, "the fabulous preexistence of souls," and "the monstrous restoration which follows from it" were declared anathema in the 6th century.[4]


I hope that makes Origen clearer for you.

First of all you never want to trust anything a Christian says when it comes to describing heretical beliefs. They do tend to mis characterize.

Ishtar wrote:I don’t actually know what you mean by that, or what you’re referring to.

I have made the point that just by debunking Literalist Christianity, one hasn’t debunked God, who (if he exists) had to have existed billions of years before Literal Christianity. And that’s not even to mention all other Gods/Allahs/Brahmans etc of other religions who are perceived in a form that is a million miles away from God being at the head of a hierarchy in which man is on lowest rung, which is the Judaeo-Christian vision of God.

And then even further – there is the God of the Gnostics and the Mystery Schools. That variety of God isn’t separate to man at all. He isn’t an overseer who has to be obeyed. These initiates came to understand, through a process that included these stories, but was not dependent on them, that they are God, that they are co-creators of their own reality, that they are all that is, that all that exists is I AM.

And then there’s the Serpent God ... and the sun... the list of how man perceived God over millennia is endless. So if anyone claims that they are an atheist solely on the strength of the debunking of Literal Christianity, and on nothing else, it is a non-sequiteur.

Or you could just start off from the base that there is no God because you choose to ... but that's just a matter of opinion, then, and thus has exactly the same value as those whose opinion is that there is a God.


What I'm referring to is precisely your last sentence in the quote above. The false equivalence is in the notion that the non assumption of a god is the same as the assumption that there is no god.

Its the difference between not assuming you have elbows and assuming you don't have elbows. If I don't assume you have elbows then I'm actually counting the possibility you could have them or not. If I assume you don't have elbows then I'm not counting the possibility that you have them.

Atheism is not the assumption that there is no god, it is not assuming there is a god.

Ishtar wrote:
seeker wrote: I think that your assumption of Celsus as an agnostic and then as not knowing what he was talking about, especially when the perception of him is from as biased a source as Origen is the result of that particular bias. The fact is that Origen is unlikely to have written anything positive about Celsus.


If you read your first sentence in that quote, you'll agree with me that it doesn’t make sense.

Actually it makes good sense but it is a convoluted sentence. You initially assumed Celsus was agnostic and I think that your bias against agnostics caused you to see him as ignorant.

Ishtar wrote:So I cannot reply to it. But what bias, Seeker? I respect true atheism, which is arrived at after considering a myriad of possibilities. I am biased against the ignorance that bases its atheism solely on the fact that Jesus never lived as a human being, yes. That’s all. But everyone is biased from their own point of view, including you.

There are different kinds of atheism, certainly no doubt about that but assuming that a belief is based solely on one thing or another based one or two things you read is never a good idea

Ishtar wrote:Origen’s purpose was not to write anything positive or negative about Celsus. His purpose to write an Apology to a letter from Celsus called The True Word, and the only evidence we have of it is in his and others’ writings.

I agree though I'd suggest that in writing an apology it was to Origen's advantage to avoid any real positive statements of Celsus at all. Then we have to consider the Christian copyists who preserved Origen's work and whether it was in their interests to present any defense of Gnosticism that might have existed.

Ishtar wrote:
The True Word had very little influence either on the mutual relations of Church and State, or on classical literature. Echoes of it are found in Tertullian and in Minucius Felix, and then it lay forgotten until Origen gave it new life. A good deal of the neo Platonic polemic naturally went back to Celsus, and both the ideas and phrases of The True Word are found in Porphyry and Julian, though the closing of the New Testament canon in the meantime somewhat changed the method of attack for these writers.


In other words, they were all philosophers arguing at a time before the canon was closed, and thus the dogma was not yet set in concrete. That is why a Gnostic like Origen could survive for as long as he did, although towards the end of his life, he was harried out.
Origen wasn't Gnostic. He was harried out though because he also wasn't a Literalist

Ishtar wrote:You’re kidding! Really?

See, now I now you don’t read my posts, Seeker. You have just fed back to me the very point that I’ve been making over and over again on every thread on this subject.
Not in a direct way you don't.

You forget that it was me that pointed out that the Gospel of Mark was likely a Gnostic document. There is Gnosticism embedded in the bible but Christians made a strong effort to conceal Gnostic roots.

Ishtar wrote:The point is, the Literalist Christians today like to hold on to the idea of Origen as “one of the distinguished fathers of the Early Church”, because he was the only decent philosopher they had. So, in retrospect, they claimed him. But what was happening on the ground at the time was not so straightforward.

There was a lot of clerical and doctrinal infighting during the life of Origen, which tells us that this is probably when the Literalists were really beginning to make their presence felt. Origen was ordained by two bishops and refused ordination by another. This shows us the confusion at the time and that early Christianity was a hotpotch of different beliefs that hadn’t yet settled down into the two camps of Literalist and Gnostic. Plotinus, the pagan philosopher who teaching in Rome in the middle of the third century (when Origen was writing) treats Christianity as just another rival school that had developed from the teachings of Plato, just like his own.

Christian attacks on Origen started around 230 CE, and he wrote Contra Celsus 18 years later.

So at that time, Christianity was different shades of grey rather than black and white, and Celsus fails to perceive this, when others of the time do. I would suggest that that grey didn't separate out fully into the black and white of Gnostic and Literal Christianity until Constantine.

The whole point is, I’m not disagreeing with Celsus’s views on Literalist Christianity. What I am saying is, though, that he didn’t have the full picture and he actually didn’t have an excuse for not having the full picture. And if you agree with me, as you say you do, that Gnosticism was strong in Asia and Alexandria at the time, what are we arguing about?



.

What we are arguing about is not whether Gosticism was strong in Asia. It certainly was, we agree on that.

My only point is that Cesus arguments as we have them only tell us that he was against Christianity in its literal form. It really says next to nothing about his view towards Gnostics and actually seems to suggests that he at least respected mystery religions. Assuming Celsus was atheist, agnostic, etc only muddies the waters.
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Postby Minimalist » Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:21 am

I agree with the facts you've presented but as all we have is Origen's presentation of Celsus attacks on Literal Christianity we can't assume what he did or didn't know about Gnosticism.



My sense is that Celsus was attacking all xtians. While he did know that there were certain ones who called themselves 'gnostics' he seems more than a little confused by the fact that all these different beliefs were still....somehow....managing to classify themselves as "christian" while despising each other for their doctrinal lapses. This was not, as it is for us, an academic exercise for Celsus. He was living right in the middle of this dispute AND apparently in full agreement that the empire had a right and a need to suppress such noxious superstition as the xtians were putting out.

If anything, Celsus seems to give a grudging bit of praise to the handful which tried to explain their stories allegorically rather than the literalist mob but, and I'll see if I can find the passage, it is damning with faint praise to put the best possible face on it.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Postby seeker » Tue Sep 09, 2008 9:54 am

Minimalist wrote:
I agree with the facts you've presented but as all we have is Origen's presentation of Celsus attacks on Literal Christianity we can't assume what he did or didn't know about Gnosticism.



My sense is that Celsus was attacking all xtians. While he did know that there were certain ones who called themselves 'gnostics' he seems more than a little confused by the fact that all these different beliefs were still....somehow....managing to classify themselves as "christian" while despising each other for their doctrinal lapses. This was not, as it is for us, an academic exercise for Celsus. He was living right in the middle of this dispute AND apparently in full agreement that the empire had a right and a need to suppress such noxious superstition as the xtians were putting out.

If anything, Celsus seems to give a grudging bit of praise to the handful which tried to explain their stories allegorically rather than the literalist mob but, and I'll see if I can find the passage, it is damning with faint praise to put the best possible face on it.


A lot of that has to do with the rise of a Christian Hierarchy that was pushing the Literalist 'orthodoxy' as true Christianity. In a sense, in that environment, the fact that there were such differences was moot because the most trouble was being caused by that one faction.

Its a bit like Hamas, we in the West decry them as supporting terrorism when they are also a political party and even do humanitarian things. It isn't that we don't understand Hamas but the things we disagree with far outweigh the bits that we don't disagree with so we tend to not mention the good bits.
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Postby Ishtar » Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:07 pm

Seeker

It's easy. Either you believe the scriptures are allegoric or literal. They cannot be both. So if you believe they are allegorical, you are not a Literalist. What school of philosophy you are then labelled as being in - Neo Platonist, Neo-Pagan, Neo-Something else, then, is just a fine point. The fact is, you are not a Literalist and so you come under the same heading as those who believe in a non flesh and blood Jesus - someone who believes the stories were made up to teach a deeper truth, and we call those peoples today Gnostics - and these people eventually became anathema to the Literalists and were harried out in one form or another, as Origen was.

However, I expect you're as bored with this discussion as I am. It definitely comes under the heading of "Does it really matter?" in my book.

So you're welcome to reply, but I won't be posting any more on this.
Ishtar
 
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