Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Which Came First? Celsus's True Word or the Syntagma of Justin?

I sometimes think how weird it must seem to follow the develop of an argument in 'real time.'  In other words, when you pick up a book or any traditional media the answer is basically settled for the reader - or at least so it seems.  When you really think about it however, this isn't really the case.  Most of us who read academic books are aware of how the opinions of prominent scholars change over time.  Von Campenhausen for instance thought that Polycarp wrote the Pastoral Epistles before he changed his mind.  So too do we find Bultmann 'changing his mind' about whether the 'Son of Man' was someone other than Jesus.  The list goes on and on, I guess.

In any event, in the words of Sting, few of us realize how fragile we and our opinions about the 'facts' of reality really are.  This is especially true with regards to our reconstructed opinions about Christian antiquity.  In many cases there are only a handful of facts to deal with.  When one more comes along we might go from four to five or three to four known 'facts' or 'observations.'   Additional information can really be game changing.

To this end we have been trying to develop an understanding for where Celsus gets his information about the various heresies he names.  The information appears at the end of Book Five of Origen's response to Celsus's lost work the True Word.  No one knows why Origen decided to answer a second century treatise in the early third century.  It must have been an influential work.  All that is certain is that Origen himself attributes his response to a request put forward to him by his master Ambrose, a former Marcionite.

So we already start at a disadvantage here.  We are dealing with indirect information about Celsus's original text.  Origen is not a reporter but a partisan seeking to make the pagan author seem uninformed and his information unreliable.  Nevertheless for sections of Against Celsus at least it appears as if Origen follows the original plan of the True Word, so at the very least if we follow the fragmentary references we can - at least theoretically - have an idea of the shape of Celsus's original argument.

To this end, we noted that at 5.61 of Against Celsus Origen brings up a number of names of sectarian groups which are familiar to anyone who has ever read the anti-heretical literature of the Church Fathers.  Celsus writes - "Let no one suppose that I am ignorant that some of them (= Christians) will concede that their God is the same as that of the Jews, while others will maintain that he is a different one, to whom the latter is in opposition, and that it was from the former that the Son came."  Then he notes that there is a third class who call certain persons "carnal," and others "spiritual" and whom Origen notes he things Celsus means the followers of Valentinus but does not identify the heretic by name.  Celsus then mentions those "who give themselves out as Gnostics" and "some who accept Jesus, and who boast on that account of being Christians, and yet would regulate their lives, like the Jewish multitude, in accordance with the Jewish law" as well as specific allusion to names like that of Simon and Helene , Marcellina and the Harpocratians and the like.

We have suggested in previous posts that Celsus must have been using an earlier version of a Christian anti-heretical text - Justin's Syntagma - which became reworked many times into separate works including Hippolytus's Philosophumena and the Five Books Against Heresies by Irenaeus.  Yet the evidence is particularly strong with respect to the Philosophumena with respect to this relationship.  The Philosophumena and Celsus make reference to the same image of Christians having to 'cauterize their ears with wax' to avoid hearing what the Sirens (the heretics) teach from the Greek philosophers.  Justin makes reference to the mast of the ship appearing as a cross as does Celsus.  Celsus and the Philosophumena also identify the heretics as 'enigmas.'  Terms and expressions which Origen himself claims he has never heard with respect to Christian writers so the relationship is especially significant.

Nevertheless I stumbled upon another uncanny parallel in the Philosophumena which potentially turns our developing model upside down.  For so far we have simply limited ourselves to the obvious parallels between (a) things the second century pagan Celsus says about the various contemporary heretics and (b) descriptions that the third century Philosophumena says about heretics of the previous age.  The assumption has always been that the Philosophumena and Against Heresies go back to Justin's Syntagma as a common ancestor and presumably this 'syntagma' was simply an 'arrangement' of the names of various heretics with a description of their beliefs.  But there is this new piece of evidence which suggest things may not necessarily be as straightforward as that.

For I have just discovered that the Philosophumena makes reference to the Valentinians 'stealing their ideas' from Plato which bears a striking resemblance to the argument which immediately follows the material just cited from the end of Book Five.  Let's show in order what appears after the list of heretics which includes reference to the heretics as 'Sirens' and 'enigmas' and the business about believers having to 'cauterize of the ears' - all of which we have already noted appear in the Philosophumena.  Origen tells us that:

In the next place, that he may have the appearance of knowing still more than he has yet mentioned, he says, agreeably to his usual custom, that "there are others who have wickedly invented some being as their teacher and demon, and who wallow about in a great darkness, more unholy and accursed than that of the companions of the Egyptian Antinous." [Against Celsus 5.63]

"Moreover," he continues, "these persons utter against one another dreadful blasphemies, saying all manner of things shameful to be spoken; nor will they yield in the slightest point for the sake of harmony, hating each other with a perfect hatred." [ibid]

Celsus appears to me to have misunderstood the statement of the apostle, which declares that "in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe;" and to have misunderstood also those who employed these declarations of the apostle against such as had corrupted the doctrines of Christianity. And it is owing to this cause that Celsus has said that "certain among the Christians are called 'cauterized in the ears;' " and also that some are termed "enigmas,"--a term which we have never met. The expression "stumbling-block" is, indeed, of frequent occurrence in these writings,--an appellation which we are accustomed to apply to those who turn away simple persons, and those who are easily deceived, from sound doctrine. But neither we, nor, I imagine, any other, whether Christian or heretic, know of any who are styled Sirens, who betray and deceive, and stop their ears, and change into swine those whom they delude. [ibid 5.64]

And yet this man, who affects to know everything, uses such language as the following: "You may hear," he says, "all those who differ so widely, and who assail each other in their disputes with the most shameless language, uttering the words, 'The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.'" ... But since he asserts that "you may hear all those who differ so widely saying, 'The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world,'" we shall show the falsity of such a statement. For there are certain heretical sects which do not receive the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, as the two sects of Ebionites, and those who are termed Encratites. Those, then, who do not regard the apostle as a holy and wise man, will not adopt his language, and say, "The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world." [ibid 5.64]

He continues, moreover, to linger over the accusations which he brings against the diversity of sects which exist, but does not appear to me to be accurate in the language which he employs, nor to have carefully observed or understood how it is that those Christians who have made progress in their studies say that they are possessed of greater knowledge than the Jews; and also, whether they acknowledge the same Scriptures, but interpret them differently, or whether they do not recognise these books as divine. For we find both of these views prevailing among the sects. He then continues: "Although they have no foundation for the doctrine, let us examine the system itself; and, in the first place, let us mention the corruptions which they have made through ignorance and misunderstanding, when in the discussion of elementary principles they express their opinions in the most absurd manner on things which they do not understand, such as the following." [ibid]

And then, to certain expressions which are continu ally in the mouths of the believers in Christianity, he opposes certain others from the writings of the philosophers, with the object of making it appear that the noble sentiments which Celsus supposes to be used by Christians have been expressed in better and clearer language by the philosophers, in order that he might drag away to the study of philosophy those who are caught by opinions which at once evidence their noble and religious character. We shall, however, here terminate the fifth book, and begin the sixth with what follows. [ibid]

Celsus brings against the Christians, not, as might be supposed, those objections which he has adduced from writers on philosophy. For he has quoted a considerable number of passages, chiefly from Plato, and has placed alongside of these such declarations of holy Scripture as are fitted to impress even the intelligent mind; subjoining the assertion that "these things are stated much better among the Greeks (than in the Scriptures). and in a manner which is free from all exaggerations and promises on the part of God, or the Son of God" (Ἕλλησιν εἰρῆσθαι καὶ χωρὶς ἀνατάσεως καὶ ἐπαγγε λίας τῆς ὡς ἀπὸ θεοῦ ἢ υἱοῦ θεοῦ).[ibid 6.1]

I have made these remarks in reply to the charges which Celsus and others bring against the simplicity of the language of Scripture, which appears to be thrown into the shade by the splendour (λαμπρότητος) of polished discourse.[6.1]

Seeing, however, that Celsus quotes from an epistle of Plato another statement to the following effect, viz.: "If it appeared to me that these matters could be adequately explained to the multitude in writing and in oral address, what nobler pursuit in life could have been followed by me, than to commit to writing what was to prove of such advantage to human beings, and to lead the nature of all men onwards to the light?" [6.6]

And if it were not tiresome to repeat the truth regarding these illustrious individuals, I would say that they saw better than Plato (by means of the intelligence which they received by the grace of God), what things were to be committed to writing, and how this was to be done, and what was by no means to be written to the multitude, and what was to be expressed in words, and what was not to be so conveyed. And once more, John, in teaching us the difference between what ought to be committed to writing and what not, declares that he heard seven thunders instructing him on certain matters, and forbidding him to commit their words to writing.[ibid]

There might also be found in the writings of Moses and of the prophets, who are older not only than Plato, but even than Homer and the invention of letters among the Greeks, passages worthy of the grace of God bestowed upon them, and filled with great thoughts, to which they gave utterance, but not because they understood Plato imperfectly, as Celsus imagines. For how was it possible that they should have heard one who was not yet born? And if any one should apply the words of Celsus to the apostles of Jesus, who were younger than Plato, say whether it is not on the very face of it an incredible assertion, that Paul the tentmaker, and Peter the fisherman, and John who left his father's nets, should, through misunderstanding the language of Plato in his Epistles, have expressed themselves as they have done regarding God? But as Celsus now, after having often required of us immediate assent (to his views), as if he were babbling forth something new in addition to what he has already advanced, only repeats himself, what we have said in reply may suffice. Seeing, however, he produces another quotation from Plato, in which he asserts that the employment of the method of question and answer sheds light on the thoughts of those who philosophize like him, let us show from the holy Scriptures that the word of God also encourages us to the practice of dialectics [6.7]

In the next place, after other Platonic declarations, which demonstrate that "the good" can be known by few, he adds: "Since the multitude, being puffed up with a contempt for others, which is far from right, and being filled with vain and lofty hopes, assert that, because they have come to the knowledge of some venerable doctrines, certain things are true." "Yet although Plato predicted these things, he nevertheless does not talk marvels, nor shut the mouth of those who wish to ask him for information on the subject of his promises; nor does he command them to come at once and believe that a God of a particular kind exists, and that he has a son of a particular nature, who descended (to earth) and conversed with me." [6.8]

Celsus quotes another saying of Plato to the following effect: "It has occurred to me to speak once more upon these subjects at greater length, as perhaps I might express myself about them more clearly than I have already done for there is a certain 'real' cause, which proves a hindrance in the way of him who has ventured, even to a slight extent, to write on such topics; and as this has been frequently mentioned by me on former occasions, it appears to me that it ought to be stated now. In each of existing things, which are necessarily employed in the acquisition of knowledge, there are three elements; knowledge itself is the fourth; and that ought to be laid down as the fifth which is both capable of being known and is true. Of these, one is 'name;' the second is 'word;' the third, 'image;' the fourth, 'knowledge.'" [6.9]

He next continues: "You see how Plato, although maintaining that (the chief good) cannot be described, in words, yet, to avoid the appearance of retreating to an irrefutable position, subjoins a reason in explanation of this difficulty, as even 'nothing' might perhaps be explained in words." But as Celsus adduces this to prove that we ought not to yield a simple assent, but to furnish a reason for our belief, we shall quote also the words of Paul, where he says, in censuring the hasty believer, "unless ye have believed inconsiderately." Now, through his practice of repeating himself, Celsus, so far as he can, forces us to be guilty of tautology, reiterating, after the boastful language which has been quoted, that "Plato is not guilty of boasting and falsehood, giving out that he has made some new discovery, or that he has come down from heaven to announce it, but acknowledges whence these statements are derived." [6.10]

Accordingly, we do not say to each of our hearers, "Believe, first of all, that He whom I introduce to thee is the Son of God;" but we put the Gospel before each one, as his character and disposition may fit him to receive it, inasmuch as we have learned to know "how we ought to answer every man." And there are some who are capable of receiving nothing more than an exhortation to believe, and to these we address that alone; while we approach others, again, as far as possible, in the way of demonstration, by means of question and answer. Nor do we at all say, as Celsus scoffingly alleges, "Believe that he whom I introduce to thee is the Son of God, although he was shamefully bound, and disgracefully punished, and very recently was most contumeliously treated before the eyes of all men;" neither do we add, "Believe it even the more (on that account)." For it is our endeavour to state, on each individual point, arguments more numerous even than we have brought forward in the preceding pages. [ibid]

After this Celsus continues: "If these (meaning the Christians) bring forward this person, and others, again, a different individual (as the Christ), while the common and ready cry of all parties is, 'Believe, if thou wilt be saved, or else begone,' what shall those do who are in earnest about their salvation? Shall they cast the dice, in order to divine whither they may betake themselves, and whom they shall join?" Now we shall answer this objection in the following manner, as the clearness of the case impels us to do. If it had been recorded that several individuals had appeared in human life as sons of God in the manner in which Jesus did, and if each of them had drawn a party of adherents to his side, so that, on account of the similarity of the profession (in the case of each individual) that he was the Son of God, he to whom his followers bore testimony to that effect was an object of dispute, there would have been ground for his saying, "If these bring forward this person, and others a different individual, while the common and ready cry of all parties is, 'Believe, if thou wilt be saved, or else begone,'" and so on; whereas it has been proclaimed to the entire world that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God who visited the human race: for those who, like Celsus, have supposed that (the acts of Jesus) were a series of prodigies, and who for that reason wished to perform acts of the same kind, that they, too, might gain a similar mastery over the minds of men, were convicted of being utter nonentities. Such were Simon, the Magus of Samaria, and Dositheus, who was a native of the same place; since the former gave out that he was the power of God that is called great, and the latter that he was the Son of God. Now Simonians are found nowhere throughout the world; and yet, in order to gain over to himself many followers, Simon freed his disciples from the danger of death, which the Christians were taught to prefer, by teaching them to regard idolatry as a matter of indifference. But even at the beginning of their existence the followers of Simon were not exposed to persecution. For that wicked demon who was conspiring against the doctrine of Jesus, was well aware that none of his own maxims would be weakened by the teaching of Simon. The Dositheans, again, even in former times, did not rise to any eminence, and now they are completely extinguished, so that it is said their whole number does not amount to thirty. Judas of Galilee also, as Luke relates in the Acts of the Apostles, wished to call himself some great personage, as did Theudas before him; but as their doctrine was not of God, they were destroyed, and all who obeyed them were immediately dispersed. We do not, then, "cast the dice in order to divine whither we shall betake ourselves, and whom we shall join," as if there were many claimants able to draw us after them by the profession of their having come down from God to visit the human race. On these points, however, we have said enough.[6.11]

Accordingly, let us pass on to another charge made by Celsus, who is not even acquainted with the words (of our sacred books), but who, from misunderstanding them, has said that "we declare the wisdom that is among men to be foolishness with God;" Paul having said that "the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God." Celsus says that "the reason of this has been stated long ago." And the reason he imagines to be, "our desire to win over by means of this saying the ignorant and foolish alone." But, as he himself has intimated, he has said the same thing before; and we, to the best of our ability, replied to it. Notwithstanding this, however, he wished to show that this statement was an invention of ours, and borrowed from the Grecian sages, who declare that human wisdom is of one kind, and divine of another.  And he quotes the words of Heraclitus, where he says in one passage, that "man's method of action is not regulated by fixed principles, but that of God is;" and in another, that "a foolish man listens to a demon, as a boy does to a man." He quotes, moreover, the following from the Apology of Socrates, of which Plato was the author: "For I, O men of Athens, have obtained this name by no other means than by my wisdom. And of what sort is this wisdom? Such, probably, as is human; for in that respect I venture to think that I am in reality wise." Such are the passages adduced by Celsus. [6.12]

We maintain, indeed, that "human" wisdom is an exercise for the soul, but that "divine" wisdom is the "end," being also termed the "strong" meat of the soul by him who has said that "strong meat belongeth to them that are perfect, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." This opinion, moreover, is truly an ancient one, its antiquity not being referred back, as Celsus thinks, merely to Heraclitus and Plato. [6.13]

And therefore it is no ordinary individuals whom you will find to have participated in the "divine" wisdom, but the more excellent and distinguished among those who have given in their adherence to Christianity; for it is not "to the most ignorant, or servile, or most uninstructed of mankind," that one would discourse upon the topics relating to the divine wisdom. [ibid]

In designating others by the epithets of "uninstructed, and servile, and ignorant," Celsus, I suppose, means those who are not acquainted with his laws, nor trained in the branches of Greek learning; while we, on the other hand, deem those to be "uninstructed" who are not ashamed to address (supplications) to inanimate objects, and to call upon those for health that have no strength, and to ask the dead for life, and to entreat the helpless for assistance. And although some may say that these objects are not gods, but only imitations and symbols of real divinities, nevertheless these very individuals, in imagining that the hands of low mechanics can frame imitations of divinity, are "uninstructed, and servile, and ignorant;" for we assert that the lowest among us have been set free from this ignorance and want of knowledge, while the most intelligent can understand and grasp the divine hope. [6.14]

In the next place, instead of endeavouring to adduce reasons, as he ought, for his assertions, he terms us "sorcerers," and asserts that "we flee away with headlong speed from the more polished class of persons, because they are not suitable subjects for our impositions, while we seek to decoy those who are more rustic." [ibid]

Celsus, in the next place, as one who has heard the subject of humility greatly talked about; but who has not been at the pains to understand it, would wish to speak evil of that humility which is practised among us, and imagines that it is borrowed from some words of Plato imperfectly understood, where he expresses himself in the Laws as follows: "Now God, according to the ancient account, having in Himself both the beginning and end and middle of all existing things, proceeds according to nature, and marches straight on. He is constantly followed by justice, which is the avenger of all breaches of the divine law: he who is about to become happy follows her closely in humility, and becomingly adorned." [6.15]

But he who is of humble mind in the sense of the prophet, while "walking in great and wonderful things," which are above his capacity--viz., those doctrines that are truly great, and those thoughts that are wonderful--"humbles himself under the mighty hand of God." If there are some, however, who through their stupidity have not clearly understood the doctrine of humiliation, and act as they do, it is not our doctrine which is to be blamed; but we must extend our forgiveness to the stupidity of those who aim at higher things, and owing to their fatuity of mind fail to attain them. [ibid]

In the next place, with regard to the declaration of Jesus against rich men, when He said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God," Celsus alleges that this saying manifestly proceeded from Plato, and that Jesus perverted the words of the philosopher, which were, that "it was impossible to be distinguished for goodness, and at the same time for riches." [6.16]

Since Celsus, moreover, from a desire to depreciate the accounts which our Scriptures give of the kingdom of God, has quoted none of them, as if they were unworthy of being recorded by him (or perhaps because he was unacquainted with them), while, on the other hand, he quotes the sayings of Plato, both from his Epistles and the Phoedrus, as if these were divinely inspired, but our Scriptures were not, let us set forth a few points, for the sake of comparison with these plausible declarations of Plato, which did not however, dispose the philosopher to worship in a manner worthy of him the Maker of all things. [6.17]

I thought it right to quote these few instances from a much larger number of passages, in which our sacred writers express their ideas regarding God, in order to show that, to those who have eyes to behold the venerable character of Scripture, the sacred writings of the prophets contain things more worthy of reverence than those sayings of Plato which Celsus admires. Now the declaration of Plato, quoted by Celsus, runs as follows: "All things are around the King of all, and all things exist for his sake, and he is the cause of all good things. With things of the second rank he is second, and with those of the third rank he is third. The human soul, accordingly, is eager to learn what these things are, looking to such things as are kindred to itself, none of which is perfect. But as regards the King and those things which I mentioned, there is nothing which resembles them." [6.18]

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;" [6.19]

The Scriptures which are current in the Churches of God do not speak of "seven" heavens, or of any definite number at all, but they do appear to teach the existence of "heavens," whether that means the "spheres" of those bodies which the Greeks call "planets," or something more mysterious. Celsus, too, agreeably to the opinion of Plato, asserts that souls can make their way to and from the earth through the planets; while Moses, our most ancient prophet, says that a divine vision was presented to the view of our prophet Jacob,--a ladder stretching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it, and the Lord supported upon its top,--obscurely pointing, by this matter of the ladder, either to the same truths which Plato had in view, or to something greater than these. On this subject Philo has composed a treatise which deserves the thoughtful and intelligent investigation of all lovers of truth. [6.21]

After this, Celsus, desiring to exhibit his learning in his treatise against us, quotes also certain Persian mysteries, where he says: "These things are obscurely hinted at in the accounts of the Persians, and especially in the mysteries of Mithras, which are celebrated amongst them. For in the latter there is a representation of the two heavenly revolutions,--of the movement, viz., of the fixed stars, and of that which take place among the planets, and of the passage of the soul through these. The representation is of the following nature: There is a ladder with lofty gates, and on the top of it an eighth gate. The first gate consists of lead, the second of tin, the third of copper, the fourth of iron, the fifth of a mixture of metals, the sixth of silver, and the seventh of gold. The first gate they assign to Saturn, indicating by the 'lead' the slowness of this star; the second to Venus, comparing her to the splendour and softness of tin; the third to Jupiter, being firm and solid; the fourth to Mercury, for both Mercury and iron are fit to endure all things, and are money-making and laborious; the fifth to Mars, because, being composed of a mixture of metals, it is varied and unequal; the sixth, of silver, to the Moon; the seventh, of gold, to the Sun,--thus imitating the different colours of the two latter." He next proceeds to examine the reason of the stars being arranged in this order, which is symbolized by the names of the rest of matter.

Musical reasons, moreover, are added or quoted by the Persian theology; and to these, again, he strives to add a second explanation, connected also with musical considerations. But it seems to me, that to quote the language of Celsus upon these matters would be absurd, and similar to what he himself has done, when, in his accusations against Christians and Jews, he quoted, most inappropriately, not only the words of Plato; but, dissatisfied even with these, he adduced in addition the mysteries of the Persian Mithras, and the explanation of them. Now, whatever be the case with regard to these,--whether the Persians and those who conduct the mysteries of Mithras give false or true accounts regarding them,--why did he select these for quotation, rather than some of the other mysteries, with the explanation of them? For the mysteries of Mithras do not appear to be more famous among the Greeks than those of Eleusis, or than those in AEgina, where individuals are initiated in the rites of Hecate. But if he must introduce barbarian mysteries with their explanation, why not rather those of the Egyptians, which are highly regarded by many, or those of the Cappadocians regarding the Comanian Diana, or those of the Thracians, or even those of the Romans themselves, who initiate the noblest members of their senate? But if he deemed it inappropriate to institute a comparison with any of these, because they furnished no aid in the way of accusing Jews or Christians, why did it not also appear to him inappropriate to adduce the instance of the mysteries of Mithras? [6.22]

For he will see that there is in the respective places a meaning not to be lightly treated, nor, as Celsus imagines, such as calls only for silly and servile listeners: but he will distinguish in the encampments certain things relating to the numbers that are enumerated, and which are specially adapted to each tribe, of which the present does not appear to us to be the proper time to speak. Let Celsus know, moreover, as well as those who read his book, that in no part of the genuine and divinely accredited Scriptures are "seven" heavens mentioned; neither do our prophets, nor the apostles of Jesus, nor the Son of God Himself, repeat anything which they borrowed from the Persians or the Cabiri. [6.23]

After the instance borrowed from the Mithraic mysteries, Celsus declares that he who would investigate the Christian mysteries, along with the aforesaid Persian, will, on comparing the two together, and on unveiling the rites of the Christians, see in this way the difference between them. Now, wherever he was able to give the names of the various sects, he was nothing loth to quote those with which he thought himself acquainted; but when he ought most of all to have done this, if they were really known to him, and to have informed us which was the sect that makes use of the diagram he has drawn, he has not done so. It seems to me, however, that it is from some statements of a very insignificant sect called Ophites, which he has misunderstood, that, in my opinion, he has partly borrowed what he says about the diagram. Now, as we have always been animated by a love of learning, we have fallen in with this diagram, and we have found in it the representations of men who, as Paul says, "creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts; ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." The diagram was, however, so destitute of all credibility, that neither these easily deceived women, nor the most rustic class of men, nor those who were ready to be led away by any plausible pretender whatever, ever gave their assent to the diagram. Nor, indeed, have we ever met any individual, although we have visited many parts of the earth, and have sought out all those who anywhere made profession of knowledge, that placed any faith in this diagram. [6.24]

I know this might seem like a lot of material to go through.  But it is absolutely necessary to cite the whole section as it bears a striking resemblance to the arguments which also appear in the Philosophumena, raising the question did Celsus find this unflattering reference to the Christian use of Plato in Justin's Syntagma or was the argument from Celsus added to the Philosophumena later in the second or possible the third century?

Here is the argument made against the Valentinians in the Philosophumena, allegedly from the hand of Hippolytus himself:

I think that the heresy of Valentinus which is of Pythagorean (origin), has been sufficiently, indeed more than sufficiently, delineated. It therefore seems also expedient, that having explained his opinions, we should desist from (further) refutation (of his system). Plato, then, in expounding mysteries concerning the universe, writes to Dionysius expressing himself after some such manner as this: "I must speak to you by riddles, in order that if the letter may meet with any accident in its leaves by either sea or land, he who reads (what falls into his hands) may not understand it. For so it is. All things are about the King of all, and on his account are all things, and he is cause of all the glorious (objects of creation). The second is about the second, and the third about the third. But pertaining to the King there is none of those things of which I have spoken. But after this the soul earnestly desires to learn what sort these are, looking upon those things that are akin to itself, and not one of these is (in itself) sufficient. This is, O son of Dionysius and Doris, the question (of yours) which is a cause of all evil things. Nay, but rather the solicitude concerning this is innate in the soul; and if one does not remove this, he will never really attain truth. But what is astonishing in this matter, listen. For there are men who have heard these things-- (men) furnished with capacities for learning, and furnished with capacities of memory, and persons who altogether in every way are endued with an aptitude for investigation with a view to inference. (These are) at present aged speculators. And they assert that opinions which at one time were credible are now incredible, and that things once incredible are now the contrary. While, therefore, turning the eye of examination towards these (inquiries), exercise caution, lest at any time you should have reason to repent in regard of those things should they happen in a manner unbecoming to your dignity. On this account I have written nothing concerning these (points); nor is there any treatise of Plato's (upon them), nor ever shall there be. The observations, however, now made are those of Socrates, conspicuous for virtue even while he was a young man."

Valentinus, falling in with these (remarks), has made a fundamental principle in his system "the King of all," whom Plato mentioned, and whom this heretic styles Pater, and Bythos, and Proarche over the rest of the Aeons. And when Plato uses the words, "what is second about things that are second," Valentinus supposes to be second all the Aeons that are within the limit (of the Pleroma, as well as) the limit (itself). And when Plato uses the words, what is third about what is third," he has (constituted as third) the entire of the arrangement (existing) outside the limit and the Pleroma. And Valentinus has elucidated this (arrangement) very succinctly, in a psalm commencing from below, not as Plato does, from above, expressing himself thus: "I behold all things suspended in air by spirit, and I perceive all things wafted by spirit; the flesh (I see) suspended from soul, but the soul shining out from air, and air depending from aether, and fruits produced from Bythus, and the foetus borne from the womb." Thus (Valentinus) formed his opinion on such (points). Flesh, according to these (heretics), is matter which is suspended from the soul of the Demiurge. And soul shines out from air; that is, the Demiurge emerges from the spirit, (which is) outside the Pleroma. But air springs forth from aether; that is, Sophia, which is outside (the Pleroma, is projected from the Pleroma) which is within the limit, and (from) the entire Pleroma (generally). And from Bythus fruits are produced; (that is,) the entire projection of the Aeons is made from the Father. The opinions, then, advanced by Valentinus have been sufficiently declared. It remains for us to explain the tenets of those who have emanated from-his school, though each adherent (of Valentinus) entertains different opinions. [Phil. 6.32]

This argument does not appear in either Irenaeus's Against Heresies nor in Epiphanius's Panarion.  It is uncannily similar to what appears in Book Six of Origen's word for word citation from Celsus's True Word of material that immediately follows commonly held opinions which the Philosophumena.  The question again is what is their proper relationship with each other?

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