The Rise of Early Anti-Christian Polemic- Second Printing
3. Celsus, Plato, and the Gods 41
3 Celsus, Plato, and the Gods One of the observations frequently made in the study of early Chris- tianity is the wealth of syncretism between Christianity and pagan religion and culture. Naturally, Christianity "borrowed" greatly from its Greek and Roman surroundings, not a surprising observation given their common religious genetics. The ubiquitous presence of the gods gradually metamorphosed into the shrines of the saints; aspects of pagan religious art and the prophetic tradition were trans- formed for Christian use.l Only a short step was required, for example, for the third-century Egyptians who compiled the Her- metic writings (or, more accurately, their intellectual successors) to embrace Christianity: The Hermetist, when he became a Christian, would not have so very much to unlearn. . . . He had been accustomed to aspire towards union with God, and to hold that "to hate one's body" is the first step on the way to the fulfilment of that aspiration; and when we come upon him, a little later on, transformed into a Christian hermit in the Egyptian desert, we find that he is still of the same opinion.2 While most scholars observe the influence of paganism upon Chris- tianity, a few have noted that "influence" was a two-way street, and that Christianity may have had at least as great an impact upon late paganism as the other way around.3 In any event, these observations are made largely by contempo- rary scholars. Occasionally, however, ancient commentators also noticed such parallels between Christianity and paganism. Celsus is a case...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.