Archives for category: Early Christianity

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‘If only thou couldst feel as I do, and couldst get thee power of speech’

                                                                   (Od. 9.455-58)[1]

An important feature of the relationship between humans and animals since the early Neolithic age is one of reciprocity. In this line from Odysseus, Homer draws our attention to the close symbiotic relationship between a shepherd and his flock. The shepherd provides protection and the sheep provide sustenance and companionship in his lonely life[2]. However, Hesiod stated that it is the notion of justice that holds us apart from animals, with justice demanding that we do not prey on our own kind[3]. Lonsdale notes that Xenophon went further and argued that man is different because of his capacity to speak and reason, and also in his deep religiosity[4]. Yet, while the Greeks were deeply anthropocentric, the Egyptians did not have such a notion of division between human and animal. Humans were not considered superior and animals were considered the vehicle of earthly representation of the gods[5]. To consider ancient notions of the important attributes differentiating human and non-human it is necessary to review the literature left by ancient writers. These writers tend to relegate these attributes into three distinct types: rationality, intelligence and language, and argue for difference or deny it. The ancient argument that is most valid is the one propounded by writers such as Alexander, Plutarch and Porphyry and denies the superiority of humans, as it takes into account what we may not understand.

The first criterion that many ancient writers cite is the lack of rationality found in animals. In the 5th century BCE Alcamaeon of Croton wrote that humans have xunesis, an understanding which is the basis for rational thought. This allows language to develop which assists cultural maturity. He argues that animals do not have this facility and only have perception, or aesthesis, which humans have also[6]. Plato also states that the difference between humans and animals is human rationality and goes on to say that humans who do not use rational thought are no better than beasts[7]. Aristotle also denies animals reason but concedes that they have phronesis which is the knowledge needed to cope with their environment[8]. For Aristotle, humans live by skill and reason, whereas animals live by experience made up of impressions and memories[9]. In his protestation against his nephew Alexander’s assertion of the rationality of animals, Philo of Alexandria declares that, while animals might exhibit courage, only man has the understanding that enables him to form laws and governments, and to worship God[10]. Such a determination was later reflected even more vehemently by Augustine who stated that humans were made in God’s image and that animals were for their use. For Augustine, the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” only referred to humans[11].

Other writers, such as Alexander, claimed that animals were very much like humans. Alexander said that there were two types of reason: logos endiathelos (reason within the mind) and logos proporikos (uttered reason), and that animals had both. Alexander used the ability of different animals to construct complex dwellings, especially some birds and bees, to prove reason in animals, and also contended that the deliberation of a dog in following its prey is proof of reason[12]. Plutarch and Porphyry also used such an argument, but Plutarch added that good rational thinking was not apparent in many humans and only came about through much education. He argued that because animals chose between useful and harmful and exhibited fear, hope and desire this proved their rationality[13]. Porphyry extended this further by stating that justice should be awarded to animals because both humans and non-humans are endowed with reason and practise justice[14]. However, Diogenes Laertius contended that the practice of reasoned thought in humans, especially after the fourteenth year, showed that humans have a governing principle, or hegemonikon[15], that allows one to express meaningful language and is considered to be the foundation of intelligence.

Intelligence is the second criterion that ancient writers advance when they assert the superiority of humans over animals. For Aristotle, man is deliberative in that he has intentionality; only man has the ability of recollection and reason which differentiates him intellectually from animals[16]. Philo thought that pleasure and self-preservation were the prime motivating factors of animals and that they did not need intelligence for these[17]. The Stoics stated that humans have no intellectual kinship with animals as they are irrational, and for this reason humans owe them no obligation of justice[18]. There are other ancient writers who disagreed with this view. Alexander asserted that animals do have a sovereign mind[19], while Plutarch contended that the cleverness and intellect animals use for their survival ought to be enough for us to treat them respectfully[20]. Plutarch also believed that humans shared kinship, or oikeinsois, through manner or lifestyle[21]. Lonsdale writes that Aristotle’s follower, Theophrastus, argued that animal sacrifice was wrong because humans and animals shared an intellectual kinship[22]. Further, Cicero thought that while humans were superior in that they had higher intentions, such as the pursuit of comfort, industry and sympathy for others, he conceded that some animals have such higher intentions and some intellect[23].

Higher intentions and intellect could be prerequisites for engaging in contractual behaviour, a foundation of justice. Epicurus stated that, as animals do not have the capacity for language, they do not have the capacity for forming tacit contractual agreements with an intention to respect one another’s interests[24]. Language is the third criterion for the moral status of animals. For Xenophon, humans were superior to animals both intellectually and physically, and this was manifested in the human capacity for articulate language[25]. This view was also reflected by Diogenes Laertius, who stated that the lack of intelligible language in animals proved their inferiority[26]. While Aristotle thought that animals did communicate through language, he countered that it was not based in semantics and therefore inferior to humans[27]. Philo took this argument further, stating that animal utterances are as meaningless as musical notes[28]. However, Lucretius argues that humans and non-humans do engage in tacit contractual agreements. This is illustrated by the guardianship of humans to animals and the return of services and products by animals, and does not require the understanding of languages for it to be beneficial to both parties[29]. Plutarch and Porphyry also argue that humans lack the capacity to understand the language of animals not that animal language has no meaning[30]; as the modern philosopher, Wittgenstein, stated: “If a lion could talk we would not understand him”[31].

Most of the arguments above that deny non-humans the capacity of reason, intelligence and communication result in the denial to animals of any moral obligation. The Stoic, Chrysippus, puts this argument as such: humans and non-humans have three things on common: senses, utterance and reproduction. Humans can also reason, whereas animals are only motivated by impulse. Therefore, humans need not consider the interests of animals[32]. As Aristotle stated, slavery is a natural phenomenon because it is natural for one human to rule over another and as animals are intended for human use it is natural for humans to rule over animals[33]. This denial of interest to animals culminated in Augustine’s use of Aristotle’s and the Stoics’ arguments to defend the use of animals to benefit human lives on the grounds that God gave humans animals in order to help them to salvation[34]. To attribute reason to animals was tantamount to denying Christian notions of humans being fit for the divine recreation of God[35]. The Egyptian practice of animals representing the gods on earth was sacrilegious to Christian sensibilities. Therefore, animals became ‘the other’ and the primacy of humans became paramount.

Rather than a symbiotic and reciprocal relationship based upon the interests of both humans and non-humans, this reliance on a criteria of reason, intelligence and language to assert an anthropocentric world view discounts and ignores all the ancient contentions that counter such a view. Porphyry, Plutarch and Alexander were right in using the many examples from their environment to show that other animals are very much like humans. They live in complex societies, they build complex dwellings, they make choices between good and bad, they exhibit hopes, fears and desires, and have autonomy. As Lucretius stated, humans and non-humans do engage in tacit contractual agreements when they breed animals for their products or services. However, these agreements can quickly degenerate into master/slave relationships when humans disregard the interests of animals. Also, just as some humans cannot understand the language of other humans from another society, so too it is with other animals. Therefore, arguments used by ancient writers to support the claim that animals are different to humans rely upon criteria that are not exclusive to human beings and have caused the suffering of animals for over two thousand years.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Alcaemon of Croton, DK1a, Hermann Diels & Walther Kranz, eds, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th edn (Berlin: Weidmann, 1951-52)
  2. Aristotle, “Metaphysics”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
  3. Aristotle, “Parts of Animals”, from Pierre Louis, ed., Aristote; Les Parties des Animaux (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1956)
  4. Aristotle, “Politics”, Jean Aubonnet, ed., Aristote; Politique, Livres I et II (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1968)
  5. Augustine, “De civitate dei” [The City of God], from B. Dombart & A. Kalb, eds, Sancti Aurelii Augustini de Civitate Dei Libri I-X (Turnhout: Brepols, 1955 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 47)
  6. Beck, J., (2012), “Why we can’t say what animals think”, Philosophical Psychology, 2012, 1-27, Routledge Press
  7. Chryssipus, “SVF”, from Johannes von Arnim, ed. Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta (Stuttgart; Teubner, 1964; reprint of the edition of 1905)
  8. Cicero, “De finibus bonorum et malorum” [On the Ends of Good and Evil], from Claudio Moreschini, ed., M.Tullius Cicero Scripta Quae Manserunt Omnia Fasc. 43: De Finibus Bonorum et  Malorum (Munich and Leipzig: Saur, 2005)
  9. Diogenes Laertius, “Lives of the Philosophers”, from H.S. Long, Diogenis Laertii Vitae Philosophum (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964)
  10. Epicurus, kuriai Doxai [Soveregn Maxims] XXXI and XXXII, as cited in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers X. 150 [from the life of Epicurus], from Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge Press
  11. Gilhus, Ingvild S. (2006) “The religious value of animals” in Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas , Gilhus, Ingvild S. , 2006 , 93-113
  12. Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Works and Days. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd, 1918
  13. Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919
  14. Lonsdale, S.H., (1979), “Attitudes Towards Animals in Ancient Greece”, Greece and Rome, 2nd Ser., Vol.26, No.2, (Oct., 1979), 146-159
  15. Lucretius, “De rerum natura” [On the Nature of Things], from Joseph Martin, ed., T. Lucreti Cari de Rerum Natura Libri Sex (Leipzig: Teubner, 1963)
  16. Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge Press
  17. Philo of Alexandria, “On Animals”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
  18. Plato, “Laws”, Burnet, J., ed., Platonis Opera (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1901-1902; rept. 1962-1967)
  19. Plutarch, “De esu cranium” [On the Eating of Flesh), from Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge PressPlutarch, “On the Cleverness of Animals”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
  20. Plutarch, “De Stoicurum repugnantis” [On the Self-Contradictions of the Stoics], from Michel Casevitz & Daniel Babut, eds, Plutarque: Ouvres Morales XV (Sur les Contradictions Stoiciennes, etc.) (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2004)
  21. Porphyry, “On Abstinence from Animal Flesh”, from Jean Bouffartigue, Michele Patillon, Alain Segond and Luc Brisson, eds, Porphyre; De l’Abstinence (Paris: Les Belle Lettres, 1977-1995)
  22. Wittgenstein, L., (1973), Philosophical Investigations, Oxford: Blackwell
  23. Xenophon, “Memorabilia” [Recollections of Socrates], from E.C. Marchant, ed., Xenophontis Opera Omnia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967)

[1] Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919

[2] Lonsdale, S.H., (1979), “Attitudes Towards Animals in Ancient Greece”, Greece and Rome, 2nd Ser., Vol.26, No.2, (Oct., 1979), 149

[3] Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Works and Days. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd, 1914

[4] Lonsdale, Attitudes Towards Animals in Ancient Greece, Greece and Rome, (1979), 156

[5] Gilhus, Ingvild S. (2006) “The religious value of animals” in Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas , Gilhus, Ingvild S. , 2006 , 99

[6] Alcaemon of Croton, (DK1a)

[7] Plato, Laws, 766a

[8] Aristotle, Politics 1332b3-8

[9] Aristotle, Metaphysics, 980a28-981a4

[10] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals, 85

[11] Augustine, De civitate dei [The City of God] , 1.20

[12] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals, 17; 45

[13] Plutarch, On the Cleverness of Animals, 960D-E

[14] Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Flesh III. 13.1-3

[15] Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VII.55 [from the life of Zeno the Stoic]

[16] Aristotle, History of Animals, 488a20-26;588a16-18-588b3

[17] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals 44

[18] Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge Press, 28

[19] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals 29

[20] Plutarch, On the Cleverness of Animals, 960D-E

[21] Plutarch, De Stoicurum repugnantis [On the Self-Contradictions of the Stoics] 1038B

[22] Newmyer, (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, 28

[23] Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum [On the Ends of Good and Evil] II. 109-110

[24] Epicurus, kuriai Doxai [Soveregn Maxims] XXXI and XXXII, as cited in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers X. 150 [from the life of Epicurus]

[25] Xenophon, Memorabilia [Recollections of Socrates] 1.4.11-14

[26] Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VII.55

[27] Aristotle, Parts of Animals 660a35-660b2

[28] Philo of Alexandria, On Animals, 98

[29] Lucretius, De rerum natura [On the Nature of Things] V. 855-877

[30] Plutarch, De esu carnium [On the Eating of Flesh] 994E; Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Flesh III.2-4

[31] Wittgenstein, L., (1973),Philosophical Investigations,  Oxford: Blackwell, XXxi

[32] Chryssipus, SVF 2.821

[33] Aristotle, Politics 1256b15-23

[34] Augustine, De civitate dei, 1.20

[35] Gilhus, (2006) “The religious value of animals” in Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas, 99

Qumran34s2

To assess the foundations of Christianity and whether it was influenced by the teachings of the community at Qumran this essay will compare and contrast the texts of the Gospels of Matthew and John, the two apostles of Jesus of Nazareth, and the Qumran scrolls, which provide first-hand information on Palestinian-Jewish relationships during the the first century CE[1], as paleographic datings put the Qumran texts into the correct time frame[2]. The Old Testament also provides a background to the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth[3] and the particular Gospels were chosen because of the close relationship Matthew and John had to the life of Jesus. Although the Gospels have been redacted and are more than likely community documents written by more than one person, the texts of Qumran[4] and the books of the Old Testament also have these features. Therefore, through this method I hope to assess whether Christianity was more influenced by mainstream Judaism or the teachings of the Qumran community. (198)

Christianity was based in the community of mainstream Judaism both religiously and geographically. The Gospels and the Qumran texts both refer to books of the Old Testament. In giving the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth, the Gospel of Matthew begins with a tabling device found in the beginning of the First Book of Chronicles[5]. The writer of the Gospel seems to use this initial device to provide a voice of authority. A a tendenz appears in the Gospels to select passages of the Old Testament to legitimize a certain stance[6], such as Jesus infancy[7] with the Immanuel Prophecy of Isaiah 7.14 or the Egyptian exile[8] with Hosea 11.1. The Qumran scrolls, on the other hand, used the authority of ancient texts in a different context. It is the right interpretation of the Law that has primacy for the Qumran community. For example, one can be expelled from the community for not adhering to the Law, and must study the Law[9], but can have alternative views of the prophecies contained within the doctrine[10]. (221)

Like the Qumran community, the teachings of Jesus are deterministic. In Matthew 10.29 Jesus states: “And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your father’s will”. Also, in John 6.65 it states that, “…no one can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father”. This can be compared with the 1QS[11] which states ‘that they may love all the sons of light, each according to his lot in God’s design…’. However, the teachings of the Pharisees are only semi-deterministic while the Sadducees are not at all[12]. This determinism in both sets of texts is also noted in a fulfilment of law. In John 5.17, Jesus states: Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil’ and advocates for the commandments to be kept. Similarly, the 1QS[13] (1.4), and 4Q255, 257 state that the Master will do as commanded by the hand of “Moses and all His servants the Prophets”. This view has at its heart a strong dualistic notion of good and evil. (173)

The dichotomy of good and evil has the Gospel of Matthew showing a marked similarity to 1QS and CD by offering potential converts the choice between darkness and light[14]. At 5.14 it states: “[Believers] are the light of the world”. This is similar to the dichotomic view in the1QS with all the children of righteousness being ruled by the ‘Prince of Light’[15] and all the children of injustice being ruled by the Angel of Darkness’[16]. At Matt. 8.12 it is stated: “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” In particular, the Gospel of John at 6.13 states that John [the Baptist] was the witness to the True Light. Again at John 12.46 “I have come as a light into the world that whoever believes in me should not abide in darkness.” However, there is a significant difference to the Dead Sea sectarians in that Jesus also offers a mission statement: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.”[17]   (195)

This missionary movement is seen in the Gospel of John at 21.42 where it expands Christianity beyond Judaism and the Temple, quoting Psalm 118.22: “The stone which the builder rejected has become the chief corner-stone”. In 1QS at 8.8 also refers to the community being the ‘corner-stone’. Matthew 3.9 states that John offered ritual baptism not only to Jews but to many non-Jews as well. However, there does not seem to be an apparent effort to convert non-Jewish followers in the Qumran Scrolls. The difference is that the communities described in the Dead Sea Scrolls tend to keep themselves separate for the sake of purity – ‘No member of the Community shall follow them in matters of doctrine and justice, or eat or drink anything of theirs, or take anything from them except for a price’[18], whereas, the Gospel of John quotes Isaiah to include Gentiles in its teachings[19]. (156)

Christianity also has an emphasis on purity, but it is an abstracted version.  Matthew 4 shows a similarity to the 1QS by telling about how Jesus went into the desert as a ‘purification’ process after baptism. In 1QS they also state that members should go into the wilderness and quote Isaiah[20].  However, in Matthew 18 a figurative measure of purity is used in that the greatest are as ‘little children’. Also, in John 9.6-7 Jesus tells the blind man to purify himself in the pool at Siloam. The 1QS also refers to such cleansing processes: ‘And when his flesh is sprinkled with purifying water and sanctified by cleansing water…’ [21]. However, in John 1.25 there is a dispute between John’s disciples and other Jews about purification, and at 4.2 it states that, unlike John, Jesus did not baptise. These types of contradictions seem to emphasise the nonconformity that Jesus appeared to uphold in his ministry.

While much of Jesus’ ministry was to do with healing the sick, blind, lame, and insane[22], the CD excludes such people[23] and the1QS does not mention them at all. The Essenes, on the other hand, were known to be healers that travelled about the land[24]. They were thought by some to be a part of the Dead Sea sectarians and that John the Baptist was an Essene raised in the desert at Qumran[25].  Pliny the Elder also wrote about the Essenes living in a desert community as a place of no women and no money[26]. However, John is not identified as an Essene by Josephus or the gospels. Also John practiced the purification by baptism only once[27], whereas purification was seen as a ritual by all other known Judaic sects. That being so does not mean that it was impossible for John the Baptist to have started a splinter group from either of these groups at a time when he thought the Messiah had come. This situation may come about when a person involved in a belief changes that belief to encompass what they consider another reality. A clue to the possibility of a new belief is the revelation of a ‘new commandment’ by Jesus to ‘love one another, as I have loved you’[28] and the introduction of the ‘Holy Spirit’ or the ‘spirit of truth’[29] which become fundamental to the doctrine of Christianity. (302)

While the 1QS and CD used the solar calendar, there is no evidence in either gospels of Matthew or John that the lunar calendar, used in the mainstream Jewish religion[30], was not used by Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth preached in synagogues and the Temple and he attended such feast days as the Passover[31], thereby implying that Jesus’ doctrine did not involve any change to traditional worship only a change to doctrine, and that Christian changes from the lunar calendar to a solar calendar came after the death of Jesus. The 1QS, like mainstream Judaism, was particularly strict about the keeping of festivals and holy days, however Jesus calls himself ‘Lord of the Sabbath’ and defends his healing of others on this day[32]. This would have been seen as sacrilegious by the other sects in Judaism, particularly the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Also, as the doctrine of Qumran revolved around paying particular attention to upholding ‘the seasons of Jubilee’[33] in which the holy Sabbaths have been revealed by God’[34], it infers that Jesus, although perhaps influenced by them, had no interest in complying with the doctrines of the Qumran texts. (238)

Christianity is based in mainstream Judaism as much of Jesus’ ministry was spent preaching in synagogues and the Temple and upholding mainstream feast days such as Passover. Yet the doctrine of Jesus of Nazareth shows remarkable similarities to the doctrines of the Qumran texts through its determinism, dualism and emphasis on spiritual purity. Jesus’ ministry also holds some similarity with the Essene sect through Jesus’ practice of healing and John the Baptist early life hold some similarity with descriptions of the Essene movement. However, the amount of contradiction between the doctrines of these mainstream and unconventional religious movements and the particular teachings of Jesus of Nazareth about the ‘new commandment’ and the ‘Holy Spirit’ show that Christianity was influenced by all facets of Judaism but was primarily a new missionary doctrine which was intended to be preached to Gentiles as well as Jews. Therefore, it can be said that Christianity was influenced by the Qumran sectarians but only as much as it was influenced by mainstream Judaism.

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Beall, Todd S. “Conclusion” in Josephus’ Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls , Beall, Todd S. , 1988 , 123-130
  2. Betz, Otto. “Was John the Baptist an Essene?” in Bible Review , 1990 , 18-25
  3. Brooke, George J. “Biblical interpretation in the Qumran Scrolls and the New Testament” in Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament , Brooke, George J. , 2005 , 52-69
  4. Burg A. et al., (date unknown) Christian Calendar- Jerusalem Centre for Jewish Christian Relations, viewed 21 November 2012, http://www.jcjcr.org/kyn_article_view.php?aid=50
  5. Fitzmyer, Joseph A. “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins: General methodological considerations” in Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins , Fitzmyer, Joseph A. , 2000 , 1-16
  6. Josephus, The Jewish War, trans. G.A. Williamson, London: Penguin Books, 1970
  7. Pliny the Elder, Nat. hist. 5.15 (73) Natural History: With an English Translation, LCL 10; H. Rackham; Cambridge, Mass / London: Harvard University Press / Heinemann, 1962, PA6156.P65/1962
  8. The Holy Bible- Revised Authorised Version, (1982), British usage edition, Samuel Bagster & Sons Ltd, London
  9. Vanderkam, James  C. “The origin, character, and early history of the 364-day calendar: A reassessment of Jaubert’s hypotheses” Catholic Biblical Quarterly , 41: , 1979 , 392-411
  10. Vermes, G. (ed. & trans.), The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English London: Penguin Books, 2011

[1] Fitzmyer, Joseph A. “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins: General methodological considerations” in Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins , Fitzmyer, Joseph A. , 2000 , p.4

[2] Fitzmyer, 2000, p.6

[3] Fitzmyer, 2000, p.5

[4] Fitzmyer, 2000, p.15

[5] Chron. 1; Matt. 1-17

[6] Brooke, George J. “Biblical interpretation in the Qumran Scrolls and the New Testament” in Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament , Brooke, George J. , 2005 , p.55

[7] Matt. 1.23

[8] Matt 13.15

[9] 1QS V 6-7

[10] CD VI, 18; XX, 32-33

[11] 1QS I, 10

[12] Josephus, BJ,2

[13] 1QS I, 4

[14] Matt 3.16

[15] 1QS III,20

[16] 1QS III, 21

[17] Matt 5.16

[18] 1QS V, 17

[19] John 12. 18-23

[20] Isaiah 40.3

[21] 1QS 3.8

[22] Matt 8-9

[23] CD XV, 15

[24] Josephus BJ, 2.145

[25] Beall, Todd S. “Conclusion” in Josephus’ Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead Sea Scrolls , Beall, Todd S. , 1988 , 123-130; Betz, Otto. “Was John the Baptist an Essene?” in Bible Review , 1990 , 18-25

[26] Pliny the Elder (Nat. hist. 2, 5.15, 73)

[27] John 2

[28] John 13.34

[29] Matt, 12.31; John 7.37;16.5

[30] Vanderkam, James C. “The origin, character, and early history of the 364-day calendar: A reassessment of Jaubert’s hypotheses” Catholic Biblical Quarterly , 41: , 1979 , p.411

[31] Christian Calendar- Jewish Centre for Christian-Jewish Relations, viewed on 23/11/2012

[32] Matt. 12.1-8; John 710; 9.13

[33] 1QS IX, 15; CD IV, 1

[34] CD III, 15

Celsus was a Neo-Platonist that lived in the time of the late second century. He wrote a book against Christianity called The True Word. Celsus’s work is only known through the Christian apologist Origen’s writings. Origen of Alexandria was a Christian theologian who cites much of Celsus’s work in his book Against Celsus. Porphyry was a philosopher born in the Roman near East and who wrote in the second half of the third century after the persecutions of Decian and Valerian. His book, Against the Christians, was responded to by various Christian apologists such as Eusibius, Methodius, Jerome and Augustine.

Celsus’s first criticism is to do with God’s descent amongst men. For Celsus, this is an impossibility because God, even by Christian belief, is immutable, unchanging and pure. For God to undergo such a transformation, he would have to go from a pure to a blemished state, from good to bad and Celsus states that this is wrong. Celsus asserts that if God wished to bring about the moral reformation of men he did not need to come down onto the earth because he is omnipotent. In other words God could have used his divine power to enact such a reformation. Cesus also questioned why God only decided to make this action in the generation of Jesus , stating that such an act shows that the Christian idea of God is arbitrary and capricious, which makes Christians a group of impious babblers.

Celsus’s second major criticism of Christianity was the belief in the resurrection of Jesus. As far as Celsus is concerned this is contrary to nature as it reverses the natural process of disintegration and disrupts the order if the world. He questions why God would wish to do such a thing because if God is reason, he obviously is not going to do anything contrary to reason. Therefore, if the Christian believes in a God who does things contrary to reason, they are worshipping a God that is unfit for devotion.

The third major criticism of Christianity for Celsus is the worship of Jesus as God. For Celsus, Jesus was not worthy of being venerated as divine as he was just a low-grade magician not a great hero such as Heracles or Orpheas. The practice of magic was a criminal offence in the Roman Empire and Celsus contends that the miracles of Jesus were simply magic tricks. The Gospels presented Jesus as a wonder worker and Celsus sees the prayers that the Christian’s used as incantations or spells. Celsus contends that by Jesus being conferred the status of God by the Christians that they were making him a rival to the one true God. In Celsus’s view, Jesus’s mortality must make him inferior to God and he asserts that the monotheism of Christians is undone by the adoration of him. As far as Celsus was concerned, Jesus was a lesser deity and excessive adoration robbed the one high God of his proper due.

Porphyry’s first point was that the Book of Daniel had been used by Christians to verify their belief that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. Porphyry thought that the Old Testament Book of Daniel was a Maccabean pseudograph that had been written contemporarily in the time of Antioch in the second century BC as encouragement for Jewish resistance. The Christian use of the book as a prophecy of Christ’s birth and the destruction of Temple was invalid as far as Porphyry was concerned. He was able to do this through a detailed analysis of the Book of Daniel.

Porphyry’s second point against Christians was their account of the New Testament. He claimed that the disciples based their writings on hearsay because only Matthew and John were eyewitnesses whereas Luke and Mark based their writings on the testimony of the former. Porphyry’s main criticism is that the disciples made Jesus out to be more than he was actually, such things as Jesus being the Son of God, and that he was able to express the word of God through he and God were one was a suspension of belief .

Porphyry also brought to attention the inconsistencies in the writings, behaviour and character of the apostles. One of the main inconsistencies he points to is the conflict between Peter and Paul over circumcision. Porphyry thought that this made the apostles, upon whom the Christians based their belief, unreliable. He points to examples of where there was strife and division in the church from the beginning.

Porphyry’s final and main argument against the Christians was the teaching by the disciples of the worship of Jesus. Porphyry thinks that they are mistaken and that Jesus taught the worship of the one God whereas the disciples turned this into the worship of Jesus. Porphyry thought that the disciples advocated apostacy from their true religion, that of Judaism and questioned why they did not follow the teachings of Moses, or practice the religion inaugurated by Jesus.

The Christian apologist Origen answered these Celsus’s claims by attacking him for being extremely relativistic. Rather than appealing to a specific doctrine that others should follow, for Origen Celsus only appeals to traditon; that things should be done because they were done in the past, that people should obey laws because established social conventions ought to be maintained. Augustine, who wrote a criticism of Porphyry’s work called him the most learned of all, as Porphyry knew the Christian writings as well as any Christian teacher did. However, Augustine states that although the critics of Christianity believe that Jesus should be worshipped as a wise man, he cannot understand why they do not accept that he should be worshipped as God. Augustine states that even Porphyry had to admit from his own consultation with the oracles that Jesus should be praised. Other Christian apologists say they at a loss to understand why such pagans are hostile to the Christians when they both believe in the one true God.

Celsus’s three most important criticisms of Christianity were to do with the Christian beliefs that God came to live amongst men, the belief on the resurrection of Jesus and the worship of Jesus as God. Porphyry’s rested on four core points being the Christian belief in the prophecies of Daniel, the exaggerated fabrication of the life of Jesus, the inconsistencies in Christian writings and the apostacism of Christianity from its foundation belief of Judaism. The Christians apologists responded with incredulity as to why these philosophers were so dependent upon reason and tradition in their arguments against Christianity.