Previous William Thomas Sherman Info Page postings, quotes, observations, etc.
["Beauty and the Beast - Celine Dion Live in Memphis"]
* Well, seeing how no one as quite yet has come up with anyone -- might I in the meantime suggest it be the advertiser-in-chief on Face Book, Google Ads, and the internet generally?
Book VI of Origen's Against Celsus (for which see http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04166.htm) is possibly the most intriguing and fecund in arguments and richest in historical material of all the individual volumes of the larger work. In it we some good points are made by Celsus; at the same time, Origen's responses are occasonally of a puerle and unbecoming sort; even though I myself agree with him in the majority of his contentions otherwise. But in fairness, both Celsus and Origen had a lot of cultural history and theology to cover; so that it comes as no incomprehensible surprise to find either of the disputatious combatants sometimes stumbling or out of breath between blows. Both seemed to be agreed, however, in showing no little deference to and concurrence with Plato -- though Origen's approval, naturally, is of a qualified sort. I would quote more here if that were more possible, but in the interest of brevity and readability, I've sought to make the overall choice of selections as few as could be managed here.
"If, then, it should be granted with respect to certain points, that the same doctrines are found among the Greeks as in our own Scriptures, yet they do not possess the same power of attracting and disposing the souls of men to follow them. And therefore the disciples of Jesus, men ignorant so far as regards Grecian philosophy, yet traversed many countries of the world, impressing, agreeably to the desire of the Logos, each one of their hearers according to his deserts, so that they received a moral amelioration in proportion to the inclination of their will to accept of that which is good.
"In the next place, after other Platonic declarations, which demonstrate that 'the good' can be known by few, he [Celsus] adds: 'Since the multitude, being puffed up with a contempt for others, which is far from right, and being filled with vain and lofty hopes, assert that, because they have come to the knowledge of some venerable doctrines, certain things are true.' 'Yet although Plato predicted these things, he nevertheless does not talk marvels, nor shut the mouth of those who wish to ask him for information on the subject of his promises; nor does he command them to come at once and believe that a God of a particular kind exists, and that he has a son of a particular nature, who descended (to earth) and conversed with me.'
"[After quoting Celsus] Now, according to this division, John [the Baptist] is introduced before Jesus as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, so as to correspond with the 'name' of Plato; and the second after John, who is pointed out by him, is Jesus, with whom agrees the statement, 'The Word became flesh;' and that corresponds to the 'word' of Plato. Plato terms the third 'image;' but we, who apply the expression 'image' to something different, would say with greater precision, that the mark of the wounds which is made in the soul by the word is the Christ which is in each one of us and this mark is impressed by Christ the Word. And whether Christ, the wisdom which is in those of us who are perfect, correspond to the 'fourth” element -- knowledge -- will become known to him who has the capacity to ascertain it.
"Accordingly, we do not say to each of our hearers, 'Believe, first of all, that He whom I introduce to you is the Son of God;' but we put the Gospel before each one, as his character and disposition may fit him to receive it, inasmuch as we have learned to know 'how we ought to answer every man.' And there are some who are capable of receiving nothing more than an exhortation to believe, and to these we address that alone; while we approach others, again, as far as possible, in the way of demonstration, by means of question and answer. Nor do we at all say, as Celsus scoffingly alleges, 'Believe that he whom I introduce to you is the Son of God, although he was shamefully bound, and disgracefully punished, and very recently was most contumeliously treated before the eyes of all men;' neither do we add, 'Believe it even the more (on that account).' For it is our endeavour to state, on each individual point, arguments more numerous even than we have brought forward in the preceding pages.
"Notwithstanding this, however, he wished to show that this statement was an invention of ours, and borrowed from the Grecian sages, who declare that human wisdom is of one kind, and divine of another. And he quotes the words of Heraclitus, where he says in one passage, that 'man's method of action is not regulated by fixed principles, but that of God is;' and in another, that 'a foolish man listens to a demon, as a boy does to a man'...
"...In the next place, instead of endeavouring to adduce reasons, as he ought, for his assertions, he terms us 'sorcerers,' and asserts that 'we flee away with headlong speed from the more polished class of persons, because they are not suitable subjects for our impositions, while we seek to decoy those who are more rustic.' Now he did not observe that from the very beginning our wise men were trained in the external branches of learning: Moses, e.g., in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; Daniel, and Ananias, and Azariah, and Mishael, in all Assyrian learning, so that they were found to surpass in tenfold degree all the wise men of that country. At the present time, moreover, the Churches have, in proportion to the multitudes (of ordinary believers), a few 'wise' men, who have come over to them from that wisdom which is said by us to be 'according to the flesh;' and they have also some who have advanced from it to that wisdom which is 'divine.'
"I thought it right to quote these few instances from a much larger number of passages, in which our sacred writers express their ideas regarding God, in order to show that, to those who have eyes to behold the venerable character of Scripture, the sacred writings of the prophets contain things more worthy of reverence than those sayings of Plato which Celsus admires...
"Nor was the philosopher [Plato] the first to present to view the 'super-celestial' place; for David long ago brought to view the profundity and multitude of the thoughts concerning God entertained by those who have ascended above visible things, when he said in the book of Psalms: 'Praise God, you heaven of heavens and you waters that be above the heavens, let them praise the name of the Lord .' I do not, indeed, deny that Plato learned from certain Hebrews the words quoted from the Phaedrus, or even, as some have recorded, that he quoted them from a perusal of our prophetic writings, when he said: 'No poet here below has ever sung of the super-celestial place, or ever will sing in a becoming manner,' and so on. And in the same passage is the following: 'For the essence, which is both colourless and formless, and which cannot be touched, which really exists, is the pilot of the soul, and is beheld by the understanding alone; and around it the genus of true knowledge holds this place.' Our Paul, moreover, educated by these words, and longing after things 'supra-mundane' and 'super-celestial,' and doing his utmost for their sake to attain them, says in the second Epistle to the Corinthians: 'For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are unseen are eternal.'
[Here Celsus cites features of the the Zend Avesta mysteries of the Persian religion which bear remarkable and certain similarty to teachings in both the Bible and Plato. And Origen is either ignores or is ignorant of the fact that the Persian religion, not to mention that of the Hindus and Babylonians, antedated much (if not all) of what is in the Bible; with Origen concluding at the tail end of chaper 23 "...neither do our prophets, nor the apostles of Jesus, nor the Son of God Himself, repeat anything which they borrowed from the Persians or the Cabiri."]
"[Chapters 24-25, and 27,33, 35]
[Here the subject of the Ophites (or whom in more modern parlance we might denominate "Oaf-ites") is raised; and in chapters 27, 33, and 35, the related "archontics" whose ruler "is termed the 'accursed' god" (ch. 27). In light of which we might now rejoin -- how much more seredipitous and divinely ordained must it be or get to impress magic of his stature?]
"Moreover, if those who pride themselves upon such matters profess also a kind of magic and sorcery, -- which, in their opinion, is the summit of wisdom -- we, on the other hand, make no affirmation about it, seeing we never have discovered anything of the kind. Let Celsus, however, who has been already often convicted of false witness and irrational accusations, see whether he is not guilty of falsehood in these also, or whether he has not extracted and introduced into his treatise, statements taken from the writings of those who are foreigners and strangers to our Christian faith.
[Origen most curiously, at least if I read correctly (and assuming the existing text was never tampered with), disputes that Christ was a carpenter.]
"...While accepting, moreover, the fictions of the Greeks, he [Celsus] continues to heap against us such accusations as the following, viz., that 'the Son of God is punished by the devil, and teaches us that we also, when punished by him, ought to endure it. Now these statements are altogether ridiculous. For it is the devil, I think, who ought rather to be punished, and those human beings who are calumniated by him ought not to be threatened with chastisement.'
[Chapter 44] "Now he who in the Hebrew language is named Satan, and by some Satanas— as being more in conformity with the genius of the Greek language— signifies, when translated into Greek, 'adversary.' [Note that "Satan" then is not a proper name.] But every one who prefers vice and a vicious life, is (because acting in a manner contrary to virtue) Satanas, that is, an 'adversary' to the Son of God, who is righteousness, and truth, and wisdom. With more propriety, however, is he called 'adversary,' who was the first among those that were living a peaceful and happy life to lose his wings, and to fall from blessedness...
"But since Celsus rejects the statements concerning Antichrist, as it is termed, having neither read what is said of him in the book of Daniel nor in the writings of Paul, nor what the Saviour in the Gospels has predicted about his coming, we must make a few remarks upon this subject also; because, 'as faces do not resemble faces,' so also neither do men's 'hearts' resemble one another. It is certain, then, that there will be diversities among the hearts of men—those which are inclined to virtue not being all modelled and shaped towards it in the same or like degree; while others, through neglect of virtue, rush to the opposite extreme. And among the latter are some in whom evil is deeply engrained, and others in whom it is less deeply rooted. Where is the absurdity, then, in holding that there exist among men, so to speak, two extremes, -- the one of virtue, and the other of its opposite; so that the perfection of virtue dwells in the man who realizes the ideal given in Jesus, from whom there flowed to the human race so great a conversion, and healing, and amelioration, while the opposite extreme is in the man who embodies the notion of him that is named Antichrist?...
"It is thus that the apostle expresses himself: 'We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by word, nor by spirit, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now you know what withholds, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now lets will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.' [1st Thess. 2:1-12] To explain each particular here referred to does not belong to our present purpose. The prophecy also regarding Antichrist is stated in the book of Daniel, and is fitted to make an intelligent and candid reader admire the words as truly divine and prophetic; for in them are mentioned the things relating to the coming kingdom, beginning with the times of Daniel, and continuing to the destruction of the world. And any one who chooses may read it. Observe, however, whether the prophecy regarding Antichrist be not as follows: 'And at the latter time of their kingdom, when their sins are coming to the full, there shall arise a king, bold in countenance, and understanding riddles. And his power shall be great, and he shall destroy wonderfully, and prosper, and practise; and shall destroy mighty men, and the holy people. And the yoke of his chain shall prosper: there is craft in his hand, and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by craft shall destroy many; and he shall stand up for the destruction of many, and shall crush them as eggs in his hand.' [Dan. 8:23-25] What is stated by Paul in the words quoted from him, where he says, 'so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,' is in Daniel referred to in the following fashion: 'And on the temple shall be the abomination of desolations, and at the end of the time an end shall be put to the desolation' [1st Thess. 2:4]...
"...Nay, he would not even quote the passage in the letters of Plato, to which we referred in the preceding pages, concerning Him who so beautifully arranged this world, as being the Son of God; lest he too should be compelled by Plato, whom he often mentions with respect, to admit that the architect of this world is the Son of God, and that His Father is the first God and Sovereign Ruler over all things. Nor is it at all wonderful if we maintain that the soul of Jesus is made one with so great a Son of God through the highest union with Him, being no longer in a state of separation from Him. For the sacred language of holy Scripture knows of other things also, which, although 'dual' in their own nature, are considered to be, and really are, 'one' in respect to one another. It is said of husband and wife, 'They are no longer two, but one flesh;' and of the perfect man, and of him who is joined to the true Lord, Word, and Wisdom, and Truth, that 'he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.' And if he who 'is joined to the Lord is one spirit,' who has been joined to the Lord, the Very Word, and Wisdom, and Truth, and Righteousness, in a more intimate union, or even in a manner at all approaching to it than the soul of Jesus? And if this be so, then the soul of Jesus and God the Word -- the first-born of every creature -- are no longer two, (but one).
[Interesting comments by both Celsus and Origen regrading Marcion's objections.]
"Let us see, then, briefly what holy Scripture has to say regarding good and evil, and what answer we are to return to the questions, 'How is it that God created evil?' and, 'How is He incapable of persuading and admonishing men?' Now, according to holy Scripture, properly speaking, virtues and virtuous actions are good, as, properly speaking, the reverse of these are evil. We shall be satisfied with quoting on the present occasion some verses from the thirty-fourth Psalm, to the following effect: 'They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. Come, you children, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord . What man is he that desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good.' [Psalm 34: 10-14] Now, the injunctions to 'depart from evil, and to do good,' do not refer either to corporeal evils or corporeal blessings, as they are termed by some, nor to external things at all, but to blessings and evils of a spiritual kind; since he who departs from such evils, and performs such virtuous actions, will, as one who desires the true life, come to the enjoyment of it; and as one loving to see 'good days,' in which the word of righteousness will be the Sun, he will see them, God taking him away from this 'present evil world,' and from those evil days concerning which Paul said: 'Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.'
"If we speak, however, of what are called 'corporeal' and 'external' evils -- which are improperly so termed -- then it may be granted that there are occasions when some of these have been called into existence by God, in order that by their means the conversion of certain individuals might be effected. And what absurdity would follow from such a course? For as, if we should hear those sufferings improperly termed 'evils' which are inflicted by fathers, and instructors, and pedagogues upon those who are under their care, or upon patients who are operated upon or cauterized by the surgeons in order to effect a cure, we were to say that a father was ill- treating his son, or pedagogues and instructors their pupils, or physicians their patients, no blame would be laid upon the operators or chastisers; so, in the same way, if God is said to bring upon men such evils for the conversion and cure of those who need this discipline, there would be no absurdity in the view, nor would 'evils come down from the Lord upon the gates of Jerusalem,' -- which evils consist of the punishments inflicted upon the Israelites by their enemies with a view to their conversion; nor would one visit 'with a rod the transgressions of those who forsake the law of the Lord, and their iniquities with stripes;' nor could it be said, 'You have coals of fire to set upon them; they shall be to you a help.' In the same way also we explain the expressions, 'I, who make peace, and create evil;' for He calls into existence 'corporeal' or 'external' evils, while purifying and training those who would not be disciplined by the word and sound doctrine. This, then, is our answer to the question, 'How is it that God created evil?'
"Celsus, in the next place, suspecting, or perhaps seeing clearly enough, the answer which might be returned by those who defend the destruction of men by the deluge, continues: 'But if he does not destroy his own offspring, whither does he convey them out of this world which he himself created?' To this we reply, that God by no means removes out of the whole world, consisting of heaven and earth, those who suffered death by the deluge, but removes them from a life in the flesh, and, having set them free from their bodies, liberates them at the same time from an existence upon earth, which in many parts of Scripture it is usual to call the 'world.' In the Gospel according to John especially, we may frequently find the regions of earth termed 'world,' as in the passage, 'He was the true Light, which lightens every man that comes into the 'world;' as also in this, 'In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' If, then, we understand by 'removing out of the world' a transference from 'regions on earth,' there is nothing absurd in the expression. If, on the contrary, the system of things which consists of heaven and earth be termed 'world,' then those who perished in the deluge are by no means removed out of the so-called 'world.' And yet, indeed, if we have regard to the words, 'Looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;' and also to these, 'For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,' -- we might say that he who dwells amid the 'invisible' things, and what are called generally 'things not seen,' is gone out of the world, the Word having removed him hence, and transported him to the heavenly regions, in order to behold all beautiful things.
"But we, the eyes of whose soul have been opened by the Word, and who see the difference between light and darkness, prefer by all means to take our stand 'in the light,' and will have nothing to do with darkness at all. The true light, moreover, being endued with life, knows to whom his full splendours are to be manifested, and to whom his light; for he does not display his brilliancy on account of the still existing weakness in the eyes of the recipient. And if we must speak at all of 'sight being affected and injured,' what other eyes shall we say are in this condition, than his who is involved in ignorance of God, and who is prevented by his passions from seeing the truth?
"If Celsus, indeed, had understood our teaching regarding the Spirit of God, and had known that 'as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God,' he would not have returned to himself the answer which he represents as coming from us, that 'God put His own Spirit into a body, and sent it down to us;' for God is perpetually bestowing of His own Spirit to those who are capable of receiving it, although it is not by way of division and separation that He dwells in (the hearts of) the deserving. Nor is the Spirit, in our opinion, a 'body,' any more than fire is a 'body,' which God is said to be in the passage, 'Our God is a consuming fire.' For all these are figurative expressions, employed to denote the nature of 'intelligent beings' by means of familiar and corporeal terms...[quoting scripture] And by these words He taught men that God must be worshipped not in the flesh, and with fleshly sacrifices, but in the spirit. And He will be understood to be a Spirit in proportion as the worship rendered to Him is rendered in spirit, and with understanding. It is not, however, with images that we are to worship the Father, but 'in truth,' which 'came by Jesus Christ,' after the giving of the law by Moses. For when we turn to the Lord (and the Lord is a Spirit), He takes away the veil which lies upon the heart when Moses is read."
That's just it. It is like the Munsters. So that accordingly and for example, if you call the police on them, the police will refuse to help you.