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Not One Stone Left Upon Another : The catastrophic fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 forever changed the face of Judaism—and the fate of Christians

"Jesus predicted it 37 years before it happened. Herod Agrippa II and his sister Bernice, who heard Paul's testimony at Caesarea (Acts 26), tried hard to prevent it, as did the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (our main source of first-century information). But the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple in A.D. 70 happened nevertheless, and it was a catastrophe with almost unparalleled consequences for Jews, Christians, and, indeed, all of subsequent history."


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ORIGEN AGAINST CELSUS

Origenes
(Late II / Early III Century)

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    BOOK I, Chapter XLVII.

I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew as accepting somehow John as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great length of time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless-being, although against his will, not far from the truth-that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ),-the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice. Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their being brought up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine.78 If, then, he says that it was on account of James that the desolation of Jerusalem was made to overtake the Jews, how should it not be more in accordance with reason to say that it happened on account (of the death) of Jesus Christ, of whose divinity so many Churches are witnesses, composed of those who have been convened from a flood of sins, and who have joined themselves to the Creator, and who refer all their actions to His good pleasure.

 

    BOOK II, Chapter XIII.

This Jew of Celsus continues, after the above, in the following fashion: "Although he could state many things regarding the events of the life of Jesus which are true, and not like those which are recorded by the disciples, he willingly omits them." What, then, are those true statements, unlike the accounts in the Gospels, which the Jew of Celsus passes by without mention? Or is he only employing what appears to be a figure of speech, in pretending to have something to say, while in reality he had nothing to produce beyond the Gospel narrative which could impress the hearer with a feeling of its truth, and furnish a clear ground of accusation against Jesus and His doctrine? And he charges the disciples with having invented the statement that Jesus foreknew and foretold all that happened to Him; but the truth of this statement we shall establish, although Celsus may not like it, by means of many other predictions uttered by the Saviour, in which He foretold what would befall the Christians in after generations. And who is there who would not be astonished at this prediction: "Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles; " and at any others which He may have delivered respecting the future persecution of His disciples? For what system of opinions ever existed among men on account of which others are punished, so that any one of the accusers of Jesus could say that, foreseeing the impiety or falsity of his opinions to be the ground of an accusation against them he thought that this would redound to his credit, that he had so predicted regarding it long before? Now if any deserve to be brought, on account of their opinions, before governors and kings, what others are they, save the Epicureans, who altogether deny the existence of providence? And also the Peripatetics, who say that prayers are of no avail, and sacrifices offered as to the Divinity? But some one will say that the Samaritans suffer persecution because of their religion. In answer to whom we shall state that the Sicarians, on account of the practice of circumcision, as mutilating themselves contrary to the established laws and the customs permitted to the Jews alone, are put to death. And you never hear a judge inquiring whether a Sicarian who strives to live according to this established religion of his will be released from punishment if he apostatizes, but will be led away to death if he continues firm; for the evidence of the circumcision is sufficient to ensure the death of him who has undergone it. But Christians alone, according to the prediction of their Saviour, "Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake," are urged up to their last breath by their judges to deny Christianity, and to sacrifice according to the public customs; and after the oath of abjuration, to return to their homes, and to live in safety. And observe whether it is not with great authority that this declaration is uttered: "Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father who is in heaven. And whosoever shall deny Me before men," etc. And go back with me in thought to Jesus when He uttered these words, and see His predictions not yet accomplished. Perhaps you will say, in a spirit of incredulity, that he is talking folly, and speaking to no purpose, for his words will have no fulfilment; or, being in doubt about assenting to his words, you will say, that if these predictions be fulfilled, and the doctrine of Jesus be established, so that governors and kings think of destroying those who acknowledge Jesus, then we shall believe that he utters these prophecies as one who has received great power from God to implant this doctrine among the human race, and as believing that it will prevail. And who will not be filled with wonder, when he goes back in thought to Him who then taught and said, "This Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles," and beholds, agreeably to His words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached in the whole world under heaven to Greeks and Barbarians, wise and foolish alike? For the word, spoken with power, has gained the mastery over men of all sorts of nature, and it is impossible to see any race of men which has escaped accepting the teaching of Jesus. But let this Jew of Celsus, who does not believe that He foreknew all that happened to Him, consider how, while Jerusalem was still standing, and the whole Jewish worship celebrated in it, Jesus foretold what would befall it from the hand of the Romans. For they will not maintain that the acquaintances and pupils of Jesus Himself handed down His teaching contained in the Gospels without committing it to writing, and left His disciples without the memoirs of Jesus contained in their works. Now in these it is recorded, that "when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then shall ye know that the desolation thereof is nigh." But at that time there were no armies around Jerusalem, encompassing and enclosing and besieging it; for the siege began in the reign of Nero, and lasted till the government of Vespasian, whose son Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, as Josephus says, of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, but in reality, as the truth makes dear, on account of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 

    Chapter XXV.

We have mentioned in the preceding pages that there are some of the declarations of Jesus which refer to that Being in Him which was the "first-born of every creature," such as, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life," and such like; and others, again, which belong to that in Him which is understood to be man, such as, "But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth which I have heard of the Father." And here, accordingly, he describes the element of weakness belonging to human flesh, and that of readiness of spirit which existed in His humanity: the element of weakness in the expression, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; "the readiness of the spirit in this, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." And since it is proper to observe the order of our quotations, observe that, in the first place, there is mentioned only the single instance, as one would say, indicating the weakness of the flesh; and afterwards those other instances, greater in number, manifesting the willingness of the spirit. For the expression, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me," is only one: whereas more numerous are those others, viz., "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt; "and, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done." It is to be noted also, that the words are not, "let this cup depart from Me; "but that the whole expression is marked by a tone of piety and reverence, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." I know, indeed, that there is another explanation of this passage to the following effect:-The Saviour, foreseeing the sufferings which the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem were to undergo in requital of the wicked deeds which the Jews had dared to perpetrate upon Him, from no other motive than that of the purest philanthropy towards them, and from a desire that they might escape the impending calamities, gave utterance to the prayer, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." It is as if He had said, "Because of My drinking this cup of punishment, the whole nation will be forsaken by Thee, I pray, if it be possible, that this cup may pass from Me, in order that Thy portion, which was guilty of such crimes against Me, may not be altogether deserted by Thee." But if, as Celsus would allege, "nothing at that time was done to Jesus which was either painful or distressing," how could men afterwards quote the example of Jesus as enduring sufferings for the sake of religion, if He did not suffer what are human sufferings, but only had the appearance of so doing?

 

 

    BOOK 4  Chapter XXII.

But, according to Celsus, "the Christians, making certain additional statements to those of the Jews, assert that the Son of God has been already sent on account of the sins of the Jews; and that the Jews hating chastised Jesus, and given him gall to drink, have brought upon themselves the divine wrath." And any one who likes may convict this statement of falsehood, if it be not the case that the whole Jewish nation was overthrown within one single generation after Jesus had undergone these sufferings at their hands. For forty and two years, I think, after the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, did the destruction of Jerusalem take place. Now it has never been recorded, since the Jewish nation began to exist, that they have been expelled for so long a period from their venerable temple-worship and service, and enslaved by more powerful nations; for if at any time they appeared to be abandoned because of their sins, they were notwithstanding visited (by God), and returned to their own country, and recovered their possessions, and performed unhindered the observances of their law. One fact, then, which proves that Jesus was something divine and sacred, is this, that Jews should have suffered on His account now for a lengthened time calamities of such severity. And we say with confidence that they will never be restored to their former condition. For they committed a crime of the most unhallowed kind, in conspiring against the Saviour of the human race in that city where they offered up to God a worship containing the symbols of mighty mysteries. It accordingly behoved that city where Jesus underwent these sufferings to perish utterly, and the Jewish nation to be overthrown, and the invitation to happiness offered them by God to pass to others,-the Christians, I mean, to whom has come the doctrine of a pure and holy worship, and who have obtained new laws, in harmony with the established constitution in all countries; seeing those which were formerly imposed, as on a single nation which was ruled by princes of its own race and of similar manners, could not now be observed in all their entireness.

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Date: 26 Nov 2005
Time: 00:28:56

Comments0:

"This opinion of the miraculous birth of the kings is well explained in a series of sculptures on the wall of the temple of Luxor (see Fig. 28). First, the god Thoth, with the head of an ibis, and with his ink and pen-case in his left hand, as the messenger of the gods, like the Mercury of the Greeks, tells the maiden queen Mautmes that she is to give birth to a son, who is to be king Amunothph III. Secondly, the god Kneph, the spirit, with a ram's head, and the goddess Athor, with the sun and cow's horns upon her head, both take hold of the queen by her hands, and put into her mouth the character for

p. 19

life, which is to be the life of the coming child. Thirdly, the queen, when the child is to be born, is seated on the midwife's stool, as described in Exodus i. 16; two of the attending nurses rub her hands to ease the pains of childbirth, while another of the nurses holds up the baby, over which is written the name of king Amunothph III. He holds his finger to his mouth to mark his infancy; he has not yet learned to speak. Lastly, the several gods or priests attend in adoration upon their knees to present their gifts to this wonderful child, who is seated in the midst of them, and is receiving their homage. In this picture we have the Annunciation, the Conception, the Birth, and the Adoration, as described in the First and Second Chapters of Luke's Gospel; and as we have historical assurance that the chapters in Matthew's Gospel, which contain the Miraculous Birth of Jesus, are an after addition not in the earliest manuscripts, it seems probable that these two poetical chapters in L

The above is a quote from the www.sacred-texts.com. Isn't Christ birth as a God-man simply forced into the scriptures by the early christians? I have also read of Jew of Celsus and found a different story about Jesus. Who is telling the truth?

joel m. jonelas
jojonelas@yahoo.com

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