Celsus and Origen on Divine Descent

Rhetoric, Linguistics and Philosophical Theology in Origen, Contra Celsum 4.1-22


Can the Divine itself come down to earth? The Platonist Celsus rejected it as most shameful, Origen however defended this idea as an essential part of Christian doctrine. This book comments on passages from Origen’s Against Celsus 4 in which both authors put forward their arguments. The Greek text is discussed from three perspectives: linguistics, rhetoric and philosophical theology. This approach includes a focus on the communication between author and readers, the structure of the discourse, and the persuasive strategies used by Celsus and Origen. Attention is also given to conceptions of God and his relation to the world, which form the backdrop to their arguments. Moreover, their theological conceptions are related to the wider philosophical discourse of the Greco-Roman age.

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Freerk Jan H. Berghuis, Ph.D. (2020), University of Groningen, is a Classics teacher at Gomarus College, Groningen. In 2009 he published a Dutch translation of Origen’s De principiis, with introduction and comments (Budel: Damon).

1 Introduction
 1 Preface: Communication and Topic
 2 Position within Academic Discussions
 3 Organization of This Book
 4 The Authors and Their Works
 5 Text, Editions, Translations

2 Linguistics
 1 Introduction and Preview of the Chapter
 2 Discourse Situation
 3 Tense
 4 Particles
 5 Word Order

3 Rhetoric
 1 Introduction and Preview of the Chapter
 2 Rhetoric in the Ancient World
 3 Basics of Rhetorical Theories
 4 Origen and Rhetoric
 5 Reflections on Rhetoric and Persuasion in Contra Celsum

4 Philosophical Theology
 1 Introduction and Preview of the Chapter
 2 The Philosophical Landscape
 3 Celsus’ Theology
 4 Origen’s Theology
 5 The Theology of Celsus and Origen in the Philosophical Landscape

5 Commentary on Contra Celsum 4.1–22
 1 Prayer and Intention (Contra Celsum 4.1a)
 2 Divine Descent and the Prophets (Contra Celsum 4.1b–2)
 3 Correction and Free Will (Contra Celsum 4.3–4)
 4 The Interpretation of Anthropomorphisms (Contra Celsum 4.5)
 5 Mortal ambition? (Contra Celsum 4.6)
 6 Salvation Plan (Contra Celsum 4.7–9)
 7 Threatening Words and Improvement (Contra Celsum 4.10)
 8 Flood and Fire (Contra Celsum 4.11–13)
 9 Change (Contra Celsum 4.14–16)
 10 Allegorization (Contra Celsum 4.17)
 11 Deceit or Adaptation? (Contra Celsum 4.18–19)
 12 Punishments and Purification (Contra Celsum 4.20–22)

6 Conclusions

Scholars and teachers interested in Classical and Ancient Studies, Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis, Ancient rhetoric, Early Christianity, Ancient Philosophy
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