Celsus; R. Joseph Hoffman (Translator), New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, 6x9" softbound, 144 pages.
The works of many early critics of the Christian church were burned by ruling emperors or otherwise destroyed in the second and third centuries, but the writings of the Greek pagan philosopher, Celsus, have survived indirectly through his eloquent opponent Origen of Alexandria. In his apologetical treatise, Contra Celsum, Origen argues against the ideas set forth by Celsus and quotes from Celsus' The True Doctrine at length. Through this treatise, Celsus has come to represent the detached pagan voice of the ages.
In this translation, Professor Hoffmann has, for the first time, painstakingly reconstructed the main order of the philosopher's argument. Celsus' discourse shows him to be an eclectic philosopher--a dabbler in various schools of thought, including Platonism and Stoicism, and a student of the history and religious customs of many nations. Hoffman supplements this definitive translation with an informative introduction, summarizing Celsus' premises and placing the identity of Celsus in its historical context.
Celsus the Platonist was an eclectic polemical writer against Christianity, who flourished towards the end of the second century. Very little is known about his personal history except that he lived during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, that his literary activity falls between the years 175 and 180, and that he wrote a work entitled ÆalethFs l=gos ("The True Word", or "The True Discourse"), against the Christian religion.
Celsus owes his prominence in the history of Christian polemics not so much to the pre-eminent character of his work, as to the circumstance that about the year 240 a copy of the work was sent to Origen by his friend Ambrosius, with a request to write a refutation of it.
R. Joseph Hoffman is the Director of Studies in Early Christianity in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan. In 1985 he was selected to e national chairman of the Bibical Criticism Research Project. He has written three previous books on Christian origins.
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