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ANF04. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second
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Chapter XIX.

Celsus in the next place alleges, that “certain Christians, having misunderstood the words of Plato, loudly boast of a ‘super-celestial’ God, thus ascending beyond the heaven of the Jews.”  By these words, indeed, he does not make it clear whether they also ascend beyond the God of the Jews, or only beyond the heaven by which they swear.  It is not our purpose at present, however, to speak of those who acknowledge another god than the one worshipped by the Jews, but to defend ourselves, and to show that it was impossible for the prophets of the Jews, whose writings are reckoned among ours, to have borrowed anything from Plato, because they were older than he.  They did not then borrow from him the declaration, that “all things are around the King of all, and that all exist on account of him;” for we have learned that nobler thoughts than these have been uttered by the prophets, by Jesus Himself and His disciples, who have clearly indicated the meaning of the spirit that was in them, which was none other than the spirit of Christ.  Nor was the philosopher the first to present to view the “super-celestial” place; for David long ago brought to view the profundity and multitude of the thoughts concerning God entertained by those who have ascended above visible things, when he said in the book of Psalms:  “Praise God, ye heaven of heavens and ye waters that be above the heavens, let them praise the name of the Lord.”43824382    Ps. cxlviii. 4.  I do not, indeed, deny that Plato learned from certain Hebrews the words quoted from the Phædrus, or even, as some have recorded, that he quoted them from a perusal of our prophetic writings, when he said:  “No poet here below has ever sung of the super-celestial place, or ever will sing in a becoming manner,” and so on.  And in the same passage is the following:  “For the essence, which is both colourless and formless, and which cannot be touched, which really exists, is the pilot of the soul, and is beheld by the understanding alone; and around it the genus of true knowledge holds this place.”43834383    Cf. Plato in Phædro, p. 247.  Our Paul, moreover, educated by these words, and longing after things “supra-mundane” and “super-celestial,” and doing his utmost for their sake to attain them, says in the second Epistle to the Corinthians:  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are unseen are eternal.”43844384    Cf. 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.


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