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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great text, a shame about the introduction
Hoffmann’s translation of Celsus’ “Alethes Logos”, recovered from quotations in Origen’s “Contra Celsum” is at once excellent yet severely deficient. The body of the text should speak for itself, and to review something written eighteen centuries ago would be presumptuous. Suffice it to say that Celsus’ arguments and ripstes...
Published on 22 April 2004 by Amazon Customer

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really rather good
It is good to at least have a translation of this book - the earliest criticism of xtianism. Although I originally gave this two stars I feel on reflection that five may be more approriate.
Published on 13 April 2009 by opus


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great text, a shame about the introduction, 22 April 2004
This review is from: On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians (Paperback)
Hoffmann’s translation of Celsus’ “Alethes Logos”, recovered from quotations in Origen’s “Contra Celsum” is at once excellent yet severely deficient. The body of the text should speak for itself, and to review something written eighteen centuries ago would be presumptuous. Suffice it to say that Celsus’ arguments and ripstes are both enlightening, witty and also surprisingly modern (as Phillip Schaff, the Church historian also notes, as is mentioned in Hoffmann’s introduction).
Hoffmann’s introduction, however, I find deficient. He writes at length on the state of Christianity at the time yet does not cover but briefly the rest of the religious milieu which Christianity found itself in at the time- save a brief excursus on Celsus’ own supposed philosophy.
He also presents his own views on Celsus’ work, a practice I find arogant in translators- in my opinion it is better to let the work speak for itself. Would a modern English translation of the Iliad critique the style of Homer? While I am unaware of Hoffmann’s own religious beliefs, he does seem rather contemptuous of Celsus, a current of tacit support for Christianity runs through the introduction and notes, albeit subtly, which to me is rather distasteful. Rather than labelling Celsus as “repetititve” and “facile”, a better practice would have been to let the reader draw their own conclusions.
On the whole, Hoffmann presents a good reconstruction and translation of Celsus'work, but would have been better to keep his opinions to himself.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic critique of christianity, 15 Jan 2002
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J. A. Evans "Snaede" (Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians (Paperback)
This is a translation of an early critique of christianity by a pagan writer, famously argued against by Origen in Contra Celsum. A marvellous vision of how earliest christianity was viewed by the pagans around them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read if you want to know about the beginnings of Christianity, 16 Oct 2012
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Great book to read if you need to know -or are curious- about the very beginning of Christianity,and the criticism it met at the hands of cultured roman citizens. It also explain how the new testament came to be in the shape it is now, from a miriad of Christian texts written by the first evangelists and preachers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No arguments, only faith, 26 Oct 2010
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians (Paperback)
Celsus's tract `On the True Doctrine - A Discourse Against the Christians' could be partly recovered from the treatise by Origin of Alexandria `Contra Celsum'.
The excellent reconstruction and translation, together with a perfect introduction, by R. Joseph Hoffmann, reads like a modern text. All the issues involved are still highly relevant.

Introduction by the translator R. Joseph Hoffmann
Christianity began as a non-doctrinal apocalyptic movement with participants who believed in a message of eschatological judgment, a widespread view in Hellenistic Judaism in the first century (John the Baptist). This eschatological thinking bred both an ascetic form of piety (`the right belief') and an antinomian enthusiasm with sexual self-indulgence, `as if the participants were going to die on the morrow'. This latter tendency (the libertine sects) was completely eradicated from Christianity.

Celsus
On the one hand, one can catalogue Celsus as a rationalist in the tradition of Lucretius, when he points at the inconsistencies and absurdities in the Christian message as well as at their anti-reason stance.
On the other hand, one can also see him as a defender of the status-quo and the ruling class: `to love the emperor and to serve God are complementary duties.'

Jesus and the Christian Doctrine
Jesus' life as told by its followers is for Celsus `monstrous fiction'. Jesus fabricated the story of his birth from a virgin. When his mother's deceit was discovered that she was pregnant by a Roman soldier, she was driven away by her husband and convinced of adultery.
For Celsus, `anyone who believes without testing a doctrine is certain to be deceived'.
For him, the Christian doctrine is completely inconsistent and absurd.
A few examples: `Saying that God made man in his own image is failing to realize that God is not at all like a man.' `How can it be that God should make what is evil? If God decided to deliver the human race from evils, one wonders why he sent this spirit of him only to some little backwater village? Why did he wait for such a long time?'
`On the one hand, the Christians yearn for the restoration of this earthly body. On the other hand, they prescribe casting the bodies of all those who discredit them into hell, as if the body were of no value at all.'

Christian teaching and internal divisions
The Christians do not want to give or to receive reason for what they believe, they only have faith. Their favorite expressions are: `Do not ask questions, just believe.' Also, `make sure none of you ever obtain knowledge, for too much learning is a dangerous thing; the soul that acquires knowledge will perish.'
`At the start of their movement, the Christians were very few in numbers, and unified in purpose. Now there are divisions among them - factions of all sorts, each wanting to have its own territory.'

This astonishing text written in the second century AD (not a very long time after the controversial facts happened) is a must read for all heathen and Christians of all kind.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What we wer't told in Sunday school, 31 Oct 2011
By 
Jens Guld (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians (Paperback)
We are told about the Christian books being burned way back during the Roman empire. What we have not been told about is that the Chyristians repaid the compliment as soon as they could.
This book was among the books the Christians hated and burned. But they forgot to burn the books containing their polemics against it, so it has been more or less reconstructed.
The Chruch's hatred of science is nothing new. It goes back to the earliest Christianity. See History of the Conflict between Religion and Science. Here is a gratis ebook version History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science. It is from the nineteenth century but well worth reading.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really rather good, 13 April 2009
This review is from: On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians (Paperback)
It is good to at least have a translation of this book - the earliest criticism of xtianism. Although I originally gave this two stars I feel on reflection that five may be more approriate.
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