PHILADELPHIA SEMINAR ON CHRISTIAN ORIGINS
Volume 22 (1984-85)
Origen’s Contra Celsum
edited by Theodore A. Bergren, September, 1987
The topic for the twenty-second year of the Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins was Origen’s apologetic work Contra Celsum. It was decided that the seminar would cover Contra Celsum sequentially in the order of its eight books. Since the seminar was to meet five times, the logical choice was to discuss two books per session. In addition, several presentations of a more general nature were planned.
In the interest of logical coherence, these minutes are arranged not in the order in which the sessions actually occurred, but with the discussions of the eight books of Contra Celsum coming first, and the more general presentations being left for the end. Nevertheless, each presentation is labeled with its original sequence number and date, as indicated in the Table of Contents.
Appended to the minutes is a select bibliography on Contra Celsum made up mainly of works referred to in the meetings of the seminar. At the end of this bibliography the reader is referred to more extensive bibliographical sources.
The Chairperson of the Seminar during this season was David P. Efroymson of La Salle University. The Seminar is under the general sponsorship of the Department of Religious Studies of the University of Pennsylvania. Robert A. Kraft has served as general coordinator of the Seminar since its inception in 1963.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
David P. Efroymson
Session 1A; October 9, 1984
Eugene V. Gallagher
Session 2; November 13, 1984
Daniel R. Bechtel
Session 3; January 29, 1985
Session 5; April 23, 1985
John G. Gager
Session 1B; October 9, 1984
Dan G. McCartney
Session 4A; March 12, 1985
Robert A. Kraft and Theodore A. Bergren
Session 4B; March 12, 1985
Issues in Contra Celsum, Books 1 and 2
David P. Efroymson
La Salle University
I. Precedents for the literary genre of Contra Celsum
Contra Celsum is an apologetic writing; it will be of interest to consider how precedents in that genre may have influenced it. One traditional model is that of “orations against” someone (e.g. those of Cicero). Another is Josephus’ Against Apion. The latter work is especially relevant since there are thematic parallels between it and Contra Celsum, since both authors quote their opponents in extenso, and since Origen refers to Against Apion; however, Josephus’ apology is the better organized. Other early precedents for Contra Celsum are Justin’s lost Against Marcion, several works of Tertullian (e.g. Against Hermogenes), and Cyprian’s Ad Demetrianum.
II. The structure of Contra Celsum
Chadwick’s introduction treats this issue well. With regard to the possibility of reconstructing the text of Celsus’ lost work, great care must be taken (see R. Bader, Der Alethes Logos des Kelsos). Evidence of omission, abbreviation and summary in Origen’s work may bear on this issue. Regarding the organization of Contra Celsum, Origen makes it clear in the preface (6) that he changed his plan of presentation midway through Book 1 (at 1.27). The question remains: how does the order of Origen’s defense reflect that of Celsus’ attack?
III. Origen’s attitude in writing the book
On the one hand, Origen’s statements in the preface lead one to assume that he would have preferred not to write this apology. On the other, in 8.76 Origen emphatically offers to reply to a second book, if Celsus had written one. It is difficult to determine how Origen actually felt--whether one or both of these expressions are literary devices.
IV. Consideration of specific issues in Books 1 and 2
A. Perfect vs. ordinary Christians
The issue of “perfect,” or intelligent Christians as opposed to “ordinary,” or stupid ones is raised repeatedly in Books 1 and 2. It is difficult to determine why Origen is so concerned to make this distinction, and whether the “stupid” believers are a source of embarrassment or pride to him. The consensus of evidence suggests that Origen is embarrassed by the ordinary Christians. Statements in the preface indicate Origen’s conviction that “true” Christians have no need of arguments like those he will offer. At several points in Book 1 Origen is placed on the defensive by Celsus’ attacks against the gullibility and non-sophistication of Christians, and argues that due to the necessities of practical life the majority of Christians cannot engage in philosophical reflection. Origen also notes that there are many Christians who do engage in rational and philosophical pursuits. In 2.79 Origen indicates some pride in the fact that even irrational people have been converted to Christianity.
B. Concern for conversion and moral transformation
It is a central theme of Origen’s apologetic that Christianity has transformed morally the lives of scores of converts; this for Origen is proof of not only the validity of Jesus’ mission but also the efficacy of Christian doctrine. Any criticisms of a doctrinal or historical nature that Celsus can raise are offset by this observation. Although this point is indisputable to Origen, it is not certain that Celsus would have agreed that moral transformation had taken place among the Christians.
C. Judaism and its place in the argument
Judaism, both in its biblical and contemporary expressions, plays an important role in Contra Celsum; both Celsus and Origen alternately praise and criticize Judaism when it suits their polemical purposes. At several points in Book 1 Origen claims that Celsus attacks the Jews as a way to impugn Christianity by way of its scriptures and origins. Origen, however, directs some barbs of his own against Judaism. As is well known, Celsus in his polemic used a Jew, either fictive or real, as a vehicle for an attack upon Christianity. The issue of the Christians’, viz. Jewish Christians, abandoning the religion of their forebears, plays a major part in Celsus’ argument. Celsus also attacks Christianity for its alleged belief that Jesus came to undermine Judaism.
Discussion of the presentation centered around two issues. Regarding the relationship between “unphilosophical” Christians, rationality and conversion, it was suggested that Origen’s defense of “ordinary” Christians may have been undertaken only reluctantly, and that his real concern lay with esoteric teaching of “true,” i.e. philosophical Christians. On the point of whether Celsus’ Jew represented a real person, it was pointed out that although the Jew appears in some respects to be a literary straw man, he also raises several points of which it would be surprising for Celsus himself to be aware (e.g. the figure of Panthera, the alleged Roman father of Jesus).
Origen’s Contra Celsum, Books 3 and 4
Eugene V. Gallagher
I. Literary organization and structure
There is sound evidence and precedent for deciding that at least Contra Celsum 1.28-2.79, which reproduces the speech of Celsus’ fictional Jewish interlocutor, is a distinct unit. However, there is no similar consensus on the structure of Books 3 and 4. K. Pichler’s survey indicates no agreement on the place of the fragments in Contra Celsum 3 and 4 in the plan of Celsus’ True Doctrine. Book 3 is generally recognized as treating the beginning of the second major part of Celsus’ treatise and is usually grouped loosely with Book 4; beyond that it is difficult to venture.
It is Celsus’ comments that must provide the starting point for our investigation of the structure of books 3 and 4. It is clear at the outset of Book 3 that the Jew has left the stage and that Celsus himself is now speaking. However, beyond this no sure clues are provided as to the structure of Books 3 and 4, and attempts to identify major sections in Celsus’ treatise can raise more questions than they answer. Pichler identifies three major sections in Contra Celsum 3: 1-16: disputes between Jews and Christians; 17-43: comparison between Christian belief and Egyptian and Greek ideas; 44-81: comparison of Christian teachers to others. Book 4 is perhaps more disorganized, but Pichler’s analysis suggests two loose units at the beginning of the book: 1-13: a predominantly negative form of argument; 14-51: a predominantly positive form of argument.
Since continued attention to the explicit literary structure of Books 3 and 4 is unlikely to yield further results, it is advisable to seek a logic to Celsus’ argument in other directions. The remainder of this paper will study overarching themes, argumentative strategies and underlying texts that may give some coherence to Books 3 and 4.
II. Book 3
Celsus’ criticism of both Jews and Christians centers on the charge that for both groups, “a revolt against the community led to the introduction of new ideas” (3.5). In Book 3 Celsus concentrates on how such revolt has led to the formation of factions (3.10), claiming that both religions contribute to social disintegration.
The remainder of Book 3 presents, in several different ways, Celsus’ attempt to discredit Christianity. He accuses the Christians of inventing terrors to gain converts and of “overwhelming men beforehand by playing flutes and music” (3.16). Just as the form of the religion is aimed to dazzle rather than to convince, the substance of the message likewise contains nothing worthy of attention. In 3.17-43, the second major section of the book, Origen attempts to rescue Jesus from the company of Greek deities and heroes into which Celsus has cast him.
Celsus’ perception of the Christian message--that it is more style than substance--provides the basis for his repeated charge that Christianity drives away intelligent people and attracts only “stupid and low-class folk” (3.17). This argument runs through the final major section of the book, 3.44-81. Here Celsus also denounces Christian missionary methods. The attack on Christian missionary practice, which follows established rhetorical topoi, continues Celsus’ argument that Christianity represents a revolt against accepted practices and canons of authority.
Celsus views conversion to Christianity as a profoundly antisocial act. The new religion threatens to overturn structures of authority in the home, in education and in tradition. Christian missionaries are like incompetent physicians who “destroy those whom they profess to cure” (3.75).
In this analysis Celsus has accurately portrayed some of the implications of conversion. In the process of conversion the convert constructs a new social world, undergoing a thorough reorientation which he views as a positive development. But to those adhering to the former social world of the convert, the whole process assumes a sinister cast, since the convert’s change in affiliation renders a negative judgment on the now forsaken social context. It is natural that these “non-converts,” of whom Celsus is an example, pronounce the act of conversion a deception and the converts misguided and misled fools.
Origen consistently rejects Celsus’ charges, emphasizing the final product rather than the process of the Christian mission. The worth of Christianity is demonstrated by the moral transformation it brings about in the lives of its adherents. While the Christian mission is applicable to and directed toward all individuals, it may take particular forms when aimed at certain individuals. Celsus, Origen claims, has overlooked both the philosophical dimension of the Christian mission and the moral transformation brought about in the lives of “simple” believers.
In refuting Celsus’ charges against the substance of the Christian teaching, however, Origen faces a more difficult task. Since he cannot dismiss out of hand similarities between Christianity and belief in Asclepius, Dionysius, etc., he proposes a difference in degree rather than in kind. Again, his arguments focus upon the effects in the lives of the adherents (3.29-30; 4.83). Christianity is a force for social renovation rather than disintegration. However, while Origen stresses the moral and spiritual benefits effected by Christian belief, Celsus seems more concerned with the tangible physical and social values brought about by forms of religious piety (cf. 8.45).
Having defended the form of the Christian mission and the substance of its message, Origen now attempts to justify its choice of audience. Besides defending Christian concern for the poor and uneducated on the grounds that it is the sick who need a physician (3.61, 74; 4.71), Origen insists that Christians seek to convert philosophers as well. Origen concedes that there is a large contingent of the poor and uneducated among Christians, but stresses first that the moral transformation of these reflects Christianity’s power, and second that even the simple are led to deeper spiritual understanding. In doing so, he rejects Celsus’ claim (3.65) that moral transformation of truly evil people is impossible.
The differences between Celsus’ and Origen’s portraits of the Christian mission stem from their different views of the world and of the place of humans within it. Celsus sees Christian communities as illegal, secret societies made up of the poor, the marginal and the ignorant, who have been seduced by empty threats and vague promises. Origen, on the other hand, emphasizes moral transformation, stressing at the same time that one of the most important aspects of Christianity is its philosophical truth. Celsus adopts the stance of a “conservative intellectual,” viewing society as a hierarchically organized system in which authority is grounded in tradition; he sees Christianity as a threat to this system. For Origen, moral reformation takes precedence over concerns for social stability and tradition.
III. Book 4
Most of Book 4 centers on Celsus’ charge that the notion “that some God or son of God has come down to the earth as judge of mankind . . . is most shameful” (4.2). But much of the book also constitutes a running commentary on Genesis.
Celsus argues that any entrance into the world by God would necessarily entail change, thus compromising God’s divinity and contradicting the “ancient doctrines” that Celsus prizes. On this point Origen agrees with Celsus in principle, claiming that God as the Word remains “unchanged in essence” (4.14) and “suffers nothing of the experience of the body or the soul” (4.15).
The two differ markedly, however, in the way in which they treat Hebrew scriptures. For Celsus, the Hebrew Bible is late and crude; anything of value in it has been taken by the Jews from Greek sources (4.21, 36, 45). Origen, however, claims that Celsus has only a superficial familiarity with the text and that he intentionally misreads it.
Origen also resorts to arguments of chronology and allegory. In the first case, he adopts the commonplace Jewish and Christian arguments that Moses was earlier than Homer (4.21, 36) and that Plato may have learned about Jewish scripture during his travels in Egypt (4.39). Origen’s appeal to allegory, however, is more complicated. Apparently his goal is to establish the general feasibility of allegorical interpretation rather than to propose allegorical readings of particular passages. In Contra Celsum, unlike Origen’s other works, allegory is more important for polemical leverage than for providing specific interpretations. It allows Origen to assert that there is deep philosophical meaning in the Bible without having to commit himself to particular interpretations. Such an approach seems especially appropriate in a treatise intended for the “weak in faith” (pref. 6). Origen apparently feels that simply the appeal to allegorical interpretation is appropriate to his audience; as with every apologist, his approach is tailored to the perceived needs of the apologetic situation.
Discussion of the presentation centered largely around the issue of allegorical interpretation. With regard to the lack of actual practice of allegory in Contra Celsum, it was suggested that the use of allegory presupposes a smaller audience of “initiates” (compare the work of Philo), whereas Contra Celsum was apparently intended for a broader audience. It was also noted that the assertion of allegory in principle is often easier than the practice of it, since allegorical interpretation is often called forth by problems or embarrassment in the literal text. Allegorization implies a prior commitment to the “truth” of the allegorized work, and furthermore is accepted only within a group of like-minded individuals.
The question of the actual or intended audience of Contra Celsum was also raised. Dr. Gallagher suggested that while it is possible that a work like Contra Celsum was used in churches as a sort of compendium of responses to embarrassing questions, this cannot be proved. With regard to Celsus’ rejection of allegory, the question was raised whether Celsus opposed allegorical interpretation in general, or only allegory of certain subjects or allegory in a Christian context. It was decided that a selective opposition to allegory is more likely. A question was also raised concerning what type of Christian allegorists Celsus had in mind--”Platonists” (like Origen), or perhaps “gnostics.” It was noted that Celsus seems to be attacking Christians who allegorize the Genesis creation story, which could well apply to gnostics.
Origen’s Contra Celsum, Books 5 and 6
Daniel R. Bechtel
Certain issues and perspectives strike one’s attention on reading Books 5 and 6. One is the idea of bodily resurrection and its implications for viewing Christianity as a social threat. Another is a similar question about the social implications of the doctrine of one God. With regard to these questions, the appeals of Celsus which are mentioned toward the end of Contra Celsum--that good citizens should “help the emperor . . . and cooperate with him . . . and fight for him” (8.73) and “accept public office . . . if it is necessary” (8.74)--take on a special significance. However, it is difficult to judge whether such statements are commonplace in any critique of a “fringe” religious movement or whether they are formulated by Celsus specifically for this situation.
The interconnections seen by Celsus and Origen between statements about the nature of God and views on immortality and bodily resurrection are of interest. In 6.29, Origen reports that Celsus labeled Christianity “blockheaded wisdom” and that he accused the Christians on the one hand of accepting the validity of the Jewish scriptures and on the other of re-interpreting the scriptures allegorically. The Christians, Celsus claimed, only grudgingly praise the Creator “though he promised the Jews . . . that he would . . . raise them up from the dead with the same flesh and blood.” In addition, when Moses and Jesus disagree, they try to find “another God instead of . . . the Father.” In his reply, Origen responds to both the issue of one God and that of resurrection: first he denies that the Christians worship any other than the one God, and then he states that Christians do not believe in a resurrection “with the same flesh and blood” as the original, natural body.
Why did Celsus refer to the promise of the resurrection of the Jews as a people in his polemic against Christianity? And why did Origen pick up this issue? R. Wilken in The Christians As the Romans Saw Them (p. 104) notes that the general resurrection and the resurrection of Jesus appear frequently as topics in Celsus’ work and suggests that pagan critics of Christianity saw these ideas as particularly vulnerable because of their seeming irrationality and their centrality to Christian doctrine. Celsus was especially concerned to expose the basic irrationality of Christianity. He criticized not only the concept of resurrection but also the stories of Jesus bringing others back to life.
It is difficult to judge how literally Origen took the accounts of Jesus reviving dead people; in some cases he seems to have allegorized these stories. His theological position on resurrection may be clarified from some of his other works. In his commentary on the Song of Songs, Origen argues strongly against the idea that the resurrection body will be physical in nature. In Homily 27 on Numbers he relates the resurrection to “the ascent of the soul to heaven.” In general, Origen seems both to “spiritualize” the idea of resurrection and to depoliticize the apocalyptic perspective which at one time was closely linked to the resurrection concept.
Origen’s tendency to spiritualize is also apparent in his treatment of the book of Revelation in Contra Celsum. In 6.6, Origen interprets the eating of the scroll in Rev. 10:9-10 as a justification for secret, esoteric teaching in the church (cp. Rev. 10:4). He finds in Revelation “deeper truths about the way the soul enters into the divine realm” (6.23) (cf. esp. Revelation 21). Origen clearly interprets Revelation and the related eschatological material in Ezekiel and Numbers in a spiritual vein (as describing the soul’s journey toward its goal) rather than a literal, material one (as representing the physical manifestation of a “new Jerusalem”). In the process of spiritualization he has also depoliticized the apocalyptic content of the material.
Origen’s conceptions of resurrection and eschatology represent a departure from earlier views which link resurrection to a new physical, earthly commonwealth. This teaching was first articulated in the context of apocalyptic literature, which seems to have grown in part out of frustration with oppressive political authority. In a non-apocalyptic, Hellenistic cultural context this doctrine presented several difficulties: politically, it implied a negative judgment on the state, and intellectually, it claimed that life after death was something other than a continuation in the journey of the immortal soul.
Josephus had resolved the problems and potential political implications of resurrection by redefining the concept: in J.W. 2.162-166, while discussing the differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees, he describes resurrection as the immortality and reincarnation of the good soul and the punishment of the wicked soul. Furthermore, in a similar context in the later Antiquities (13.296-297), he does not even mention the concept. This treatment seems to be an attempt to circumvent a topic which might have made a Roman or Hellenistic reader uncomfortable with the idea of resurrection or with the threat of rebellion often associated with it.
The debate between Pharisees and Sadducees over resurrection appears several times in the NT. One incident is reported in Mk. 12:18-27 and parallels. In Mark, the discussion follows directly upon the Pharisees’ question to Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar; is the juxtaposition of these stories significant in a political sense?
The books of Luke and Acts also reflect an attempt to present Christian belief in terms that are understandable and non-offensive to a Hellenistic reader. In Paul’s speech at Athens (Acts 17:22-33), the author identifies resurrection as a doctrine that might have given pause to a typical Hellene. The account of Paul’s trial before the elders in Jerusalem (Acts 23:6) also may attempt to depoliticize resurrection by representing it as a matter of internal Jewish sectarian squabbling.
In the Roman and Hellenistic worlds the doctrine of resurrection was problematic intellectually because it emphasized the importance of the body over reason, and politically because it expressed a disdain for, and even rejection of, civil authority. Celsus emphasizes the intellectual objections but may also fear the social and political implications.
Celsus links the resurrection teachings with unreasonable views about the cosmos (6.49). In his opinion Moses and the prophets “had no idea what the nature of the world and mankind really is” (6.50). He also criticizes the biblical conception of God, asking how God can possibly repent of what he has made, rest on a seventh day, work with his hands, or make something in his image. Celsus imagines the Christian answer to his queries to be as follows: “Since God is great and hard to perceive, he thrust his own Spirit into a body like ours, and sent him down here, that we might be able to hear and learn from him” (6.69). For Celsus, the idea of God’s “receiving back” his spirit upon the physical resurrection of Jesus raises a philosophical problem: “God would not have received back the spirit which he gave after it had been defiled by the nature of the body” (6.72). Celsus’ argument centers on a duality between body and spirit which insists that the physical inevitably and irrevocably defiles the spiritual.
Celsus fears that the Christian message will result in both philosophical deception and social and political instability. In his view the dogmatic Christian insistence on one and only one God instigates problems in all these areas. He probably would have preferred a Hellenized Judaism to a latently apocalyptic Christianity which had the potential to become both anti-social and anti-state, thus creating a threat to intellect, social order and government.
Discussion of the presentation focused upon Origen’s attitudes toward political issues and apocalypticism. It was first suggested that Origen, far from attempting to mute the political ramifications of his views, was fully conscious of the radical political implications of Christian belief, and himself came close to encouraging civil disobedience. In response to this, it was argued that pagans like Celsus were less concerned with political sedition than with the Christians’ draining human power and intellect from the state into the church. Again, it was suggested that Origen urged a distancing of the individual from the state rather than encouraging sedition. On the other hand, the Stoics tended to urge conformity to legal and religious norms even when these norms were seen as invalid, whereas Origen’s position of civil disobedience certainly displays more integrity, and in this respect is indeed seditious! (Compare the Cynics.)
Regarding Origen’s attitude toward the book of Revelation and apocalypticism in general, it was noted that his position seems to be rather vague and ambiguous. The question was raised whether any writings of Origen on Revelation are known or were referred to by other authors. Would Origen have been embarrassed by the imagery of the book, or would he have allegorized it so completely that discussion of it would not have been appropriate in Contra Celsum?
It was pointed out that rabbinic literature of the third and fourth centuries displays a tendency similar to Origen’s to de-eschatologize apocalypticism, though not necessarily for political reasons. It was also mentioned that although allegorical interpretation and eschatological expectation are often taken as mutually exclusive, this is not necessarily true in Origen’s case; in Peri Archon, for example, he does use eschatological terminology. On the other hand, there are indications in Contra Celsum that Origen knows both 1 Enoch and the Sibylline Oracles, but he dismisses both cursorily.
Finally, the question was raised how well Celsus was informed about Christianity: What had he read? What were his sources of information? Which gospel tradition(s) did he know? Does the material placed in the mouth of the Jewish informant, for example, show Matthean tendencies? It was concluded that although the gospel material cited by Celsus does not seem to display clear affinities with one or another known gospel, he did seem to have been rather well informed about Christianity.
Wholesome Food for Boorish People: the knowledge of God and its implications for worship as the essential argument of Contra Celsum 7 and 8
Princeton Theological Seminary
The essential argument of Contra Celsum 7 concerns the proper channels for knowledge and service of God. Origen agrees with Celsus’ Middle Platonic understanding of God as incorporeal and transcendent; what is at issue is how it is possible to know this God, and especially what is the appropriate way for the uneducated to know and worship God. Celsus, as represented by Origen, argues that the God of the Bible is corporeal, that Middle Platonic epistemology is the way of knowledge appropriate to the philosopher, and that the correct channel to God for the masses is worship of the daimones through traditional religious cults. Origen, in opposition, holds that philosophers overestimate their own ability to know God, that everyone is given access to God through the incarnation, and that traditional pagan religious practices in fact lead away from God.
Celsus’ arguments fall under several main points. 1) The things prophesied of Jesus are not appropriate to God (7.14). 2) The God of the Bible is corporeal and contradictory; God is best known through the teachings of Plato (7:42). 3) Christian ideals of bravery in the face of death and non-resistance to evil are found earlier in non-Christian sources (7.53, 58). 4) Christian refusal to worship gods, daimones, altars and images is barbaric and unreasonable (7.62, 68).
Origen’s counter-argument runs as follows. 1) The prophecies about Jesus are true and are not improper. 2) Scripture is about the incorporeal God and must be interpreted spiritually (7.42). 3) Jesus is the best model for courage, patience and non-resistance because his teaching can be understood by anyone (7.61). 4) Christian refusal to practice traditional pagan worship is more sincere and more realistic than the attitudes of the philosophers (7.64-70).
In Book 8 it becomes clear that Origen is proposing a hierarchy of beings, descending from the One God, which is essentially different from that envisioned by Celsus. For Celsus, God is assisted by daimones who administer the material world; through traditional worship, people show appreciation for the daimones and the benefits they receive from them. Thus, worship of the daimones honors the one God. Although Celsus does admit some limitations to the power and beneficence of the daimones (e.g. they act as jailors to souls who are bound in human bodies) nevertheless, he says, they administer the material benefits necessary for life, and one ought to acknowledge and thank them.
There is another important element in Celsus’ hierarchy: earthly rulers ought also to be propitiated, since they hold their positions by the will of the daimones, dispense all earthly goods, and guarantee public order and safety. Celsus argues that the Christian ideal of one law is impossible, that their own God does not protect them, and that they should help the emperor by practicing civil obedience.
Origen proposes an entirely different ontological hierarchy. First is the One God, next is the Logos, incarnate in Jesus, and next are the angels who perform positive functions. The daimones, rather than receiving their powers from God, seek to prevent the worship of the One God; Jesus has broken their power (8.53). Out of philanthropia Christians teach all people, even the “boorish,” to live and to worship God in a suitable manner. For Origen, proper worship of God is offered directly to God--not through daimones, emperors, images, or even angels. Christian worship is so beneficial to the commonwealth that Christians ought not to be pressed into military or civil service, but should be exempt from these as priests of the One God.
Origen’s position is that Christians most effectively serve the true God of Middle Platonic philosophy precisely because they refuse to participate in traditional forms of worship and because they encourage the uneducated to recognize God and worship him directly. The populist flavor of Origen’s argument is of substantial interest. It may represent a difference between Christian and pagan views, or it may reflect a difference between philosophical arguments in the late second and mid-third centuries. Or, if we suspect Origen of tampering with Celsus’ text, he may have deliberately omitted this aspect of Celsus’ argument. The latter possibility, however, seems doubtful: Origen writes as though Celsus’ text is well-known, and he seems to have a higher regard for truth than for rhetoric.
In response to the question whether in fact Origen’s ontological hierarchy allows his position regarding the emperor and Celsus’ allows his, Dr. McVey agreed, noting that political authority occupies an accepted place in the Middle Platonic hierarchy of being. Even the issue of simple loyalty to the emperor seems to be different for Origen and Celsus: Celsus argues that the emperor, through his “genius,” is a mediator of good things from God to the people, while Origen denies this intermediate role, never conceding completely to a position of civil obedience. Celsus holds that, since there is a direct connection between the emperor and higher spiritual powers, the emperor requires the support of the citizens, while Origen denies this connection and insists that Christians benefit the state by worshipping God directly. In fact, Origen maintains that Christians are better Platonists than Celsus because they offer rational worship directly to the One God and refuse to worship in ways inappropriate to the God of philosophy.
Another point of discussion was popular conceptions of the daimones. One participant argued that there may have been a shift between the second and third centuries even in pagan opinion from the idea that daimones are basically good to a more mixed position. Justin (First Apology) seems to be one of the first to hold that the daimones are all evil; he may have been influenced by certain Jewish second temple literature (e.g. 1 Enoch). Origen completes and systematizes this idea.
Origen and Celsus have clear and opposing views on daimones and angels. For Celsus, all the daimones are positive forces. Origen, on the other hand, cannot conceive of a “good” daimon, but defines them as negative forces, perhaps the “gods” of paganism. Sacrifice entails feeding of these evil powers and is against the One God. For Origen, the positive aspects of the daimones envisaged by Celsus are taken over by angels, to whom is given the role of administration of nature and the various peoples of the world.
Dr. McVey argued that the evidence in these chapters suggests that Origen was not an elitist, as is often maintained. Rather, he believed that every Christian could and would progress through the levels of belief, from literal through moral to philosophical. It is true that at any given point in time there are various “classes” of Christians, from the boorish to the spiritual, but these distinctions are not fixed. Also, Origen does not seem to view philosophical education as a sine qua non for spiritual progress.
The “food” metaphor which furnished the title for this presentation suggests that Origen is truly interested in the large body of “ordinary” Christians. Whereas Celsus seems to believe that only philosophers can hope to achieve genuine worship, Origen maintains that through Christianity, even the unintelligent can perform worship appropriate to God. Origen clearly believed that moral transformation was available to every Christian; however, the extent to which he felt that the average believer could understand and benefit from intellectual, spiritual teaching is a more difficult question.
Origen’s Relation to Platonism
John G. Gager
The usual title for discussions of this nature is “Origen and Middle Platonism”; however, “Origen and Neoplatonism” is more accurate. Origen engendered an immense amount of controversy in the early church over his Platonic leanings and, as is well known, was eventually condemned on these grounds. However, no “heretic” has ever exerted so much influence upon the history of Christian thought.
The question of Origen’s intellectual training and early associates is a vexed one. The fullest report, and in fact the only reliable information about Origen’s education, comes from Plotinus’ biographer Porphyry (in Against the Christians, quoted by Eusebius), who claims that Origen was a student of Ammonius Saccus (also the teacher of Plotinus) and that he embraced Christianity while maintaining a Greek mind-set. Porphyry mentions Origen again in his Life of Plotinus, where he describes Origen and Plotinus as two of Ammonius Saccus’ inner circle. However, opinion remains divided over whether this Origen was the same as our author.
On the question of Origen’s relation to Platonism, the two leading modern scholars on the subject, E. R. Dodds and H. Chadwick, take diametrically opposed views. Dodds, a non-Christian, views De Principiis as an attempt to synthesize Christianity and Platonism, while Chadwick, a Christian apologist for Origen, denies this view. Yet, ironically, both approach the problem in much the same way: they speak of Origen’s “concessions” to pagan thought, a term which actually obscures the issue. This paper will attempt to formulate some approaches to Origen’s Platonism which avoid categories such as “heresy” and “concessions to paganism.”
First, it is obvious that Origen had an extraordinarily extensive knowledge of contemporary pagan philosophy. Furthermore, some of his discussions of difficult philosophical issues rank among the clearest treatments of these issues in the second and third centuries.
Second, Origen’s treatment of the various philosophical schools reveals a depth of knowledge which enables him to distinguish clearly among their doctrines, an ability often not shared by pagan philosophers themselves. Although his primary orientation is Platonic, Origen also consistently draws upon Stoic and Pythagorean sources. While it is tempting to see in his work a deliberate “synthesis” between Christianity and philosophy (as some see between Judaism and Platonism in the works of Philo), it is unlikely that Origen himself consciously intended such a synthesis. Rather, because he saw himself primarily as a Christian, he felt free to draw upon non-Christian philosophy at will when he wished to elucidate some aspect or doctrine of Christianity.
In the case of both Contra Celsum and De Principiis, it should be borne in mind that the nature of the task at hand, or of the opponent to be answered, had a significant influence on the particular philosophical orientation of the work.
In the case of Contra Celsum, however, Origen’s response clearly goes beyond the need to refute a particular opponent. After the first century C.E., it became increasingly clear that the path to intellectual and cultural respectability for Christianity lay not in opposing the pagan philosophy of the day but in seeking a rapproachment with it, even in appropriating it. Demonstrating that he is in fact a better Platonist than his opponent, Origen argues that biblical religion, rightly understood, and Platonic philosophy lead to the same goal because they issue from the same source.
Although Origen is critical of philosophy on a number of counts, several considerations should be kept in mind. First, he is far more critical of “simple” Christians than of philosophers. Second, some of the arguments that he uses against philosophy are arguments that occur within the philosophical schools themselves. Origen’s criticism of philosophy focuses on two points: 1) philosophy is suited for the few, while Christianity is for the many; and 2) while some Greek philosophers knew God, they did not glorify him (4.31). When Origen draws a line of distinction between Christianity and paganism in terms of their soteriological effectiveness, it is usually drawn with reference to pagan idolatry rather than to philosophy.
Given the limited scope of Origen’s criticism of philosophy, references by Chadwick and others to Origen’s alleged “coolness” toward philosophy are to be understood as Christian attempts to rescue Origen from charges of heresy. Finally, one point never discussed by Chadwick is Origen’s openness to theurgic Platonism, the type of Platonism represented by Iamblichus, Julian and others, but not by Plotinus (who was probably the only anti-theurgic Neoplatonist). However ill it may sit with those who wish to rescue Origen from theological embarrassment, Origen clearly believed in the efficacy of magical formulae and practices.
Discussion of the presentation centered around Origen’s ideas concerning the relative merits of and relationship between philosophy and Christianity. Regarding Origen’s position on the status of pagan philosophers as individuals, it was noted that Origen seems to take the standard Christian Platonist position: before the incarnation, true philosophers did indeed know the logos, but after it, only Christians can have the blessed future life. It was also suggested that Origen’s attitudes about the sequence and levels of truth presented by pagan philosophy and Christianity were not strictly systematized--that his opinion could change depending on the situation.
Finally, with reference to the accusation of Celsus’ Jew that the Christians “deserted the laws of their fathers” (1.7-8), it was noted that from a Middle Platonist and Neoplatonist perspective, Celsus is rightly criticized by Origen for his omission of the Jews from the list of acceptable, venerable ancient religions.
Literal and Allegorical Meaning in Origen’s Contra Celsum
Dan G. McCartney
Westminster Theological Seminary
Every interpreter approaches his text with certain presuppositions about its nature and the appropriate methods for understanding it. Usually these assumptions are unexpressed, often they are unconscious. Origen, however, was aware of many of his assumptions and expresses them throughout his writings, especially in De Principiis Books 3 and 4. Origen, like many of his time, engaged in allegorical interpretation of scripture. However, he is not a “pure” allegorist since he admits literal interpretation as well. Since Origen has left indications of his own theories regarding interpretation, we are in a position to assess the motives that underlie his methods.
This paper examines Origen’s methods of interpretation of scripture in Contra Celsum. After a brief introduction, we will examine explicit statements and implicit assumptions concerning interpretation which are present in this work and then consider several examples of interpretation which occur there.
Origen did not invent allegorical interpretive techniques. Allegorical methods were used in the Hellenistic period, and perhaps in the classical age, to interpret ancient Greek mythology and poetry in terms of current philosophical opinions. Homer, in particular, was regarded as inspired, and allegorization of his work arose from at least two motives. First, the lack of morality of the Homeric gods led later moralists to argue that the poems were symbolic and should be understood according to an underlying meaning. An example of allegorization of Homer by Celsus is found in Contra Celsum 6.42-43. A second motive for allegorizing the Homeric poems was to provide authoritative backing for particular philosophical systems.
Apparently, the chief object of allegorization in the Greek context was to determine absolute and transhistorical truth. For a historical or legal document to have more than expedient value, it had to contain points demanding allegorical interpretation. It is not surprising therefore that Celsus claims the Bible must not be divine since it cannot be interpreted allegorically (Contra Celsum 1.17-20).
Jews of the Hellenistic period regarded the Hebrew Bible, or at least certain parts of it, as inspired and adopted various interpretive approaches to it. One approach, found for example in the work of Philo, was to interpret various parts of the Bible allegorically as containing philosophical (in Philo’s case, Platonic) truth. Although Philo defended a literal conformity to the biblical laws, he seemed to regard the literal observance as of secondary importance. The Qumran sectarian literature exhibits a different kind of “allegory,” one that was historical-eschatological in nature. A key allegorical method at Qumran was to locate current historical realities in ancient texts.
Early Christian literature also witnesses to a variety of interpretive approaches. Clement of Alexandria, for example, viewed literal interpretation of scripture as a starting point from which the spiritually more advanced would be led to a deeper meaning. Origen functioned in a complex hermeneutical environment in which allegorical interpretation of scripture was clearly an existing alternative.
Explicit statements in Contra Celsum regarding interpretive principles
The most obvious assumption Origen makes regarding the Bible is that it is of divine origin (1.18; 4.71). Origen’s defense of and allegiance to the literal meaning of scripture is sometimes overlooked by scholars. In Contra Celsum Origen mentions several positive aspects of literal meaning. First, the Bible contains true and important history (3.43). Second, the literal meaning has an edifying value for the average reader (1.17-18, 27; 4.48). Third, the literal has an apologetic value in commending the accuracy of the text (4.45). Finally, the literal sense attracts people to study the Bible so that they may eventually proceed to a deeper understanding (7.60). It is interesting that in Contra Celsum, Origen’s only sustained apologetic work, he for the most part avoids the use of allegory; he wishes to demonstrate that the Bible can be defended against a pagan critic on primarily literal grounds.
Origen assumes that there should be some correspondence between literal and allegorical interpretation, and that the literal must be true for the allegorical to be valid. In several places he criticizes Celsus for non-adherence to these principles (3.43; 8.67).
Moreover, Origen believes that interpretation of scripture should be in line with the tradition of the church (5.61). Not surprisingly, this is argued especially in his polemic against what he perceives to be heretical groups.
For Origen, the biblical text can and must bear allegorical meaning precisely because it is divinely inspired (4.49). We have noted that this logic was also used by those who interpreted the Homeric poems allegorically. Celsus, Origen claims, assumes that the Bible cannot be inspired because it cannot be interpreted allegorically, and that it cannot be interpreted allegorically because it is not inspired (1.17). Origen refutes Celsus’ criticisms in part by noting the circular reasoning behind this assumption.
Origen believes that the deeper, allegorical meaning of scripture is intended mainly for the spiritually mature (1.27). Some texts contain various levels of meaning, meant for readers of different levels of spiritual perceptiveness.
Origen justifies allegorical interpretation of the Bible in two ways. First, allegorical interpretation is ancient, having been practiced by the author of the Psalms, the Hebrew prophets and ancient Hebrew priests (2.6; 3.45; 5.44; cp. 4.21). Second, allegory is used within the writings of the New Testament. Origen appeals especially to the Pauline epistles, where he identifies allegorical interpretation in several passages (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:9-10; 10:1-2, 3-4; Galatians 4; Eph. 5:31-32; cf. Contra Celsum 4.44, 49; 6.70; cp. Contra Celsum 4.42).
Although Origen was relatively self-conscious about his interpretive principles, there are two presuppositions of which he seems to have been unaware. One is his philosophical belief that Platonism is the true metaphysic. Consequently, for Origen scripture necessarily contains Platonic truth (2.48). Second, Origen assumes an authoritative “canon.” Thus he dismisses as irrelevant certain of Celsus’ arguments which assume that certain books, non-canonical for Origen (viz. 1 Enoch and Baruch), represent Christian doctrine (5.21, 54).
Some passages examined
A survey of Contra Celsum reveals that Origen was fairly faithful to the self-avowed principles of interpretation discussed above. As already mentioned, Origen in Contra Celsum for the most part avoids allegorical interpretation itself. At several points he expresses the desirability of interpreting a certain passage allegorically, but refrains from giving such interpretation, holding that the literal meaning of the passage suffices for present purposes (2.37; 4.21, 44; 5.29, 58). In this regard he is faithful to his claim that both the literal and allegorical senses of scripture are valid. Interestingly, in 1.55 Origen berates certain Jewish disputants for interpreting Isaiah 53 allegorically, and insists on a literal understanding of the chapter.
However, Contra Celsum does contain a few brief examples of allegorization by Origen, and an examination of these may help to clarify Origen’s motives for allegorical interpretation. Relevant passages are 2.48; 4.13; and 6.4, 16, 58.
It should first be noted that the infrequency and brevity of these passages suggest that Origen does consciously avoid the use of allegory in Contra Celsum. Of the allegory that does occur, two types may be discerned. One may be labeled “illustrative” (2.48; 4.13; 6.16). In this type, allegory is used to illustrate a doctrine that is contained in the literal meaning. A second type may be called “explanatory” (6.4, 58). This type involves allegorization not of a particular passage but of some concept, concepts which in the present examples are inconsonant with Origen’s presuppositions. In this case allegory is used to explain a scriptural difficulty. In Contra Celsum Origen is rather restrained in his use of the latter type.
Origen’s main commitments are to scripture, the church, and Platonist metaphysic. He wishes to uphold both the literal truth of the Bible and the spiritual truth of Platonism. Origen is also committed to the belief that the writings of the Hebrew Bible prophesy Jesus and his redemptive program literally. Thus, Origen stresses both literal and allegorical, holding that scriptural texts have (at least) dual meanings that are appropriate to different circumstances and different levels of understanding.
Origen seems to believe in two dimensions of biblical philosophy: a “vertical,” absolute dimension and a “horizontal” linear, historical dimension. His Platonic commitment to the former caused him to seek philosophical truth in scripture through allegorical interpretation. Yet he was also committed to the historical reality of the Bible. Although he always regarded the “spiritual” as superior to the “literal,” Origen appears to have believed that contact with the metaphysical is gained through the historical.
An initial question concerned whether Origen believed that the “spiritual,” “enigmatic” meanings that he discerned in scripture were intended by the authors or that they existed there by virtue of some sort of divine influence. In Contra Celsum, it was noted, he seems to take the former position. Another participant pointed out that Origen is something of a rationalist, and must have been convinced of the intellectual defensibility of his exegetical methods. There is a fundamental difference between a work being susceptible to allegory and being intended as allegory; Origen in Contra Celsum seems to take the latter stance toward the Bible (1.50; 3.74).
Another question was raised concerning the soteriological value of spiritual interpretation of the Bible. Did Origen view “higher” knowledge of the Bible as necessary for salvation; if not, what was its value? In response, it was noted that for Origen, the literal value of the text is salvific for the masses, and the intelligent have no inherent moral superiority. On the other hand, Origen feels that spiritual knowledge deepens one’s relationship with God. It was also argued that for Origen, “salvation” is probably of less importance than spiritual “progression.”
Computer Applications to Origen’s Contra Celsum
Robert A. Kraft and Theodore A. Bergren
University of Pennsylvania
Introduction (R. A. Kraft)
In a study of the technical and interpretational terminology of Contra Celsum, a computer can be of great value in locating specific words and word groups in the text and facilitating examination of passages where these words occur. Such study has at least two prerequisites: a Greek text of Contra Celsum in computer-readable form, and a computer system capable of searching and displaying the text in a more or less sophisticated manner. Given these tools, one can search for interpretational or other desired terms, including words, word parts and word groups that would not be found as such in a concordance (e.g. particles, grammatical stems, or idiomatic phrases), in a more efficient manner than with a concordance. For example, one could start by searching for terms of basic and obvious interest, and then judge from the displayed context what other terms are associated with these. One aspect of our research involved searching for terms of exegetical interest such as PARABOLH/, MUSTH/RION, SU/MBOLON and PNEUMATIKO/S. We also searched for words that could be used in referring to a text, such as BI/BLOS, BIBLI/ON and SU/GGRAMMA. Another object of study, formulae used to introduce quotations, will be discussed later.
One of the most useful aspects of computerized searching is the ability to look for specific combinations of words, word parts or word groups together within a given textual context. For example, one could direct the computer to find and display all places in the text of Contra Celsum where the units PNEUMATIK-, SUMBOLON and TOU BIBLIOU occur together within a three-line context. Such a search would be carried out in a matter of seconds or minutes, and if desired the results could be printed on paper for further reference. The advantages of this method over the use of a concordance, provided that a concordance of a desired work is even available, are obvious.
Applications (T. A. Bergren)
In a graduate seminar at the University of Pennsylvania we have, among other avenues of study of Contra Celsum, applied computer-assisted research methods to the study of the formulae used by Origen (and Celsus) to introduce quotations of or allusions to other literature. This research was performed with a view toward investigating such questions as: 1) whether certain patterns of formulae were used to introduce certain sources; 2) whether it would be possible by these means to distinguish Celsus’ quotations from those of Origen; and 3) whether in the use of such formulae there was a consciousness of precise quotation as opposed to allusion. The present study applies particularly to the first of these questions.
In order to form a methodological contrast, the study of Origen’s introductory formulae for quotations in Contra Celsum was first approached in a more “traditional” manner, using tools commonly available to scholars. In this study, using Book 3 as a sample unit, all of the citations and allusions in the text were recorded, using Chadwick’s footnotes as a basis of reference. These passages were divided into two categories: 1) casual references or allusions; and 2) probable to certain “quotations.” Only the latter category was considered further.
Book 3 was judged to have 77 such quotations: of these, 60% were from NT sources, 30% were from Jewish scriptures and apocrypha, and 10% were from non-Jewish, non-Christian (“classical”) authors. These same 77 quotations were divided into “acknowledged” (formulaic) citations (67%) and non-acknowledged (non-formulaic) citations (33%). The first group of “acknowledged” citations was further divided into 1) quotations attributed to a named source (45%) and 2) those not attributed to such a source (55%).
Several points of interest emerged in this analysis. Origen in Book 3 quotes Paul twice as many times as he does the NT gospels. None of the NT gospels is ever quoted by name. Origen quotes the Psalms as much as all the other books of the Hebrew Bible combined. In the formulaic quotations of classical authors he names his source 67% of the time, as opposed to only 45% of the time for all sources taken together.
Next, the Greek formulae of quotation themselves were studied. It was found that in Book 3 Origen does not employ consistent or predictable patterns of quotational formulae, even for works considered scriptural by him, but rather uses a large variety of ways to introduce quotations. For the 53 quotations introduced by formulae, 34 different formulae are used; 19 formulae are used twice and none is used more than twice.
Despite the large variety of formulae used by Origen, he does exhibit certain patterns of usage. The GRA/FW root is used to introduce 67% of the quotations of Paul. Citations of classical authors tend to be introduced by formulae featuring the LEC- root--either LEC/IS or a perfect form of LE/GW. Furthermore, in 15-20% of Origen’s formulae the neuter article TO/ is placed immediately before the quotation.
One of the main advantages of the application of computers to textual studies is that the speed of the computer allows scholars to analyze large units of text rather than limited sample units, as above. The analyses outlined below were performed using an Ibycus mini-computer system. The Ibycus system has as one of its functions the ability to search large bodies of text rapidly for given phrases, words or parts of words (as described above). This function, called “LEX,” is capable of searching for two or more words which occur together within a given context, or for contexts that contain one or the other of two or more words. The former function was used to search for instances in Contra Celsum where the stems of prominent verbs of saying occurred in the same context as the begin-quotation marker (“). This search confirmed the conclusion reached in the sample analysis of Book 3: Origen in Contra Celsum uses an extremely large variety of formulae to introduce quotations.
Searches were also performed for a number of other common or expected quotational formulae. In Contra Celsum 5-8 the neuter article TO\, occurring alone without any verb of saying or further formula, is used to introduce quotations 39 times--a significantly large number. E)N TW= is also frequently used to mark the beginning of a quotation.
While only 10% of Origen’s quotations in Contra Celsum 3 are from classical authors, 50% of formulaic uses of the noun LE/CIS, in its nominative and accusative forms, are applied to such authors in Contra Celsum as a whole. Of this latter figure 75% of the uses are for quotations from Plato. More than half of the formulae using the LE/CIS root also contain the words E)/XW and OU(TW=S; these three words seem to constitute a standard quotational formula used especially for Plato and other classical authors.
A search for the word GRA/FH revealed that this word is used in quotational formulae only fourteen times in Contra Celsum; one might have expected a higher frequency. Half of these fourteen formulae also contain the verb O)NOMA/ZW; thus these words seem to make up another formulaic pattern.
One question concerned the significance of the statistics cited in this presentation: how is one to assess the exact meaning of such statistics? It was found that although statistical principles and laws probably exist for such purposes, the members of the seminar had little working knowledge of such principles. On the other hand it was pointed out that statistics gained through use of a computer are inherently no different than those obtained by working by hand; it is a matter of the judgment with which they are evaluated.
Several participants emphasized the positive implications that research of this type could have for questions such as disputed authorship of a literary work or identification of an uncertain literary fragment. With regard to quotational formulae, it was noted that formulae of this nature would tend to be largely unconscious in use and might thus be useful in indicating authorship or trajectories of tradition.
Robert Kraft pointed out that one of the motives for studying Origen’s quotational formulae in the graduate seminar was to determine whether in his use of such formulae he stood in a (school?) tradition with Barnabas, Clement, and other authors of (possibly) Alexandrian provenance. However, in view of the large variety of introductional formulae used by Origen in Contra Celsum, there is little relationship between his practice and that, for example, of Barnabas, which uses much more standardized formulae of quotation.
Origen. Die acht Bücher gegen Celsus. (GCS bd. 2, 3; Origen bd. 1, 2) Ed. P. Koetschau. Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1899.
Origène. Contre Celse. (Sources chrétiennes) (5 vols.) Ed. M. Borret. Paris: Cerf, 1967-1976. (Vol. 5 contains an extensive index to the Greek text.)
Origen. Contra Celsum. Tr. H. Chadwick. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1965. (Features outstanding notes to the text.)
Andresen, C. Logos und Nomos: Die Polemik des Kelsos wider das Christentum. (AK 30) Berlin: de Gruyter, 1955.
Bader, R. Der Alethes Logos des Kelsos. (TBAW 33) Stuttgart- Berlin: W. Kohlhammer, 1940.
Chadwick, H. Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University, 1966.
Crouzel, H. Origène et la “connaissance mystique.” Brussels: Desclée de Brouwer, 1961.
ibid. Origène et la philosophie. Paris: Aubier, 1962.
DeLange, N.R.M. Origen and the Jews. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University, 1976.
Dodds, E.R. Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety. New York: Norton, 1970 (c. 1965).
Gager, J. The Origins of Anti-Semitism. New York: Oxford University, 1983.
Gallagher, E.V. Divine Man or Magician? Celsus and Origen on Jesus. Chico, CA: Scholars, 1982.
Hanson, R.P.C. Origen’s Doctrine of Tradition. London: SPCK, 1954.
Koetschau, P. Die Textüberlieferung der Bücher des Origenes gegen Celsus. (TU 6,1) Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1889.
Miura-Stange, A. Celsus und Origenes: das Gemeinsame ihrer Weltanschauung. Giessen: Topelmann, 1926.
Nautin, P. Origène. Sa vie et son oeuvre. Paris: Beauchesne, 1977.
Pichler, K. Streit um das Christentum: Der Angriff des Kelsos und die Antwort des Origenes. Bern: P. Lang, 1980.
Remus, H. Conflict over Miracle in the Second Century. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1980.
Rokeah, D. Jews, Pagans, and Christians in Conflict. Leiden: Brill; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1982.
Trigg, J.W. Origen: The Bible and Philosophy in the Third- Century Church. Atlanta: Knox, 1983.
Wilken, R. The Christians As the Romans Saw Them. New Haven: Yale University, 1984.
A full critical bibliography on Origen is available in H. Crouzel, Bibliographie critique d’Origène (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1971) and Supplément 1 to this work (Hagae Comitis: Nijhoff; Steenbrugis: Abbatia Sancti Petri, 1982). H. Chadwick offers extensive bibliography on Contra Celsum in his translation (vide supra), pp. xxxv-xl.