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On the True Doctrine: Discourse Against the Christians


On the True Doctrine: Discourse Against the Christians

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    Available in PDF Format | On the True Doctrine: Discourse Against the Christians.pdf | English
    Celsus(Author) R.J. Hoffmann(Translator)
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 preserved, albeit 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 in generous measure. Through his treatise, Celsus has come to represent the detached pagan voice of the ages. In this translation, Professor Hoffmann has, for the first time, painstakingly restored 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.

This is a useful addition to any Patristic collection and at such a reasonable price easily accessible to scholars of limited means. (Abba Seraphim, The Glastonbury Bulletin, No. 92, March 1996) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Review Text

  • By Guest on 22 April 2004

    Hoffmann’s translation of Celsus’ “Alethes Logos”, recovered from quotations in Origen’s “Contra Celsum” is at once excellent yet severely deficient. The body of the text should speak for itself, and to review something written eighteen centuries ago would be presumptuous. Suffice it to say that Celsus’ arguments and ripstes are both enlightening, witty and also surprisingly modern (as Phillip Schaff, the Church historian also notes, as is mentioned in Hoffmann’s introduction).Hoffmann’s introduction, however, I find deficient. He writes at length on the state of Christianity at the time yet does not cover but briefly the rest of the religious milieu which Christianity found itself in at the time- save a brief excursus on Celsus’ own supposed philosophy.He also presents his own views on Celsus’ work, a practice I find arogant in translators- in my opinion it is better to let the work speak for itself. Would a modern English translation of the Iliad critique the style of Homer? While I am unaware of Hoffmann’s own religious beliefs, he does seem rather contemptuous of Celsus, a current of tacit support for Christianity runs through the introduction and notes, albeit subtly, which to me is rather distasteful. Rather than labelling Celsus as “repetititve” and “facile”, a better practice would have been to let the reader draw their own conclusions.On the whole, Hoffmann presents a good reconstruction and translation of Celsus'work, but would have been better to keep his opinions to himself.

  • By Andrew E on 15 January 2002

    This is a translation of an early critique of christianity by a pagan writer, famously argued against by Origen in Contra Celsum. A marvellous vision of how earliest christianity was viewed by the pagans around them.

  • By Oscar on 16 October 2012

    Great book to read if you need to know -or are curious- about the very beginning of Christianity,and the criticism it met at the hands of cultured roman citizens. It also explain how the new testament came to be in the shape it is now, from a miriad of Christian texts written by the first evangelists and preachers.

  • By Jens Guld on 31 October 2011

    We are told about the Christian books being burned way back during the Roman empire. What we have not been told about is that the Chyristians repaid the compliment as soon as they could.This book was among the books the Christians hated and burned. But they forgot to burn the books containing their polemics against it, so it has been more or less reconstructed.The Chruch's hatred of science is nothing new. It goes back to the earliest Christianity. See History of the Conflict between Religion and Science. Here is a gratis ebook version History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science. It is from the nineteenth century but well worth reading.

  • By opus on 13 April 2009

    It is good to at least have a translation of this book - the earliest criticism of xtianism. Although I originally gave this two stars I feel on reflection that five may be more approriate.

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