(True Discourse, c.170)
Dr. Humm (Ph.D. Religious Studies University of Pennsylvania)
"Celsus lived in during the 2nd century, CE. Origen is refuting him in the 3rd century. Celsus' writings no longer survive in tact, but we have access to some of his work when Origen quotes passages for the purpose of refutation. The following is one such passage." [AH]
Origen, Contra Celsum 1.28
: (Dr Humm, Ibid)
Translation, quoted from Mead.
"Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)[see Talmud page]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god."These following quotations are found on a website, with others by Celsus that I'm not giving here:
That webstie takes the quotations from the following book:
The following quotes are taken from Celsus On the True Doctrine, translated by R. Joseph Hoffman, Oxford University Press, 1987:
Myther's argue that Celsus is unclear about thinking that Jesus lived, he may just be repeating Christian legend (according to them). He's also criticized for writing after the time of Christ by over 100 years (late second century). But it is pretty clear he thought that Jesus was a historical figure, he never gives any indication other wise, and acts as though exposing his biographical data exposes the man to ridicule, which one doesn't do with a mythical figure.
The following quotes are taken from Celsus On the True Doctrine, translated by R. Joseph Hoffman, Oxford University Press 1968
"Let us imagine what a Jew- let alone a philosopher- might say to Jesus: 'Is it not true, good sir, that you fabricated the story of your birth from a virgin to quiet rumourss about the true and in savoury circumstances of your origins? Is it not the case that far from being born in the royal David's city of bethlehem, you were born in a poor country town, and of a woman who earned her living by spinning? Is it not the case that when her deceit was uncovered, to wit, that she was pregnant by a roman soldier called Panthera she was driven away by her husband- the carpenter- and convicted of adultery?" (57). "I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus' life that does not appear in your own records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories... [for example] the nonsensical idea that Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts)." (62). "The men who fabricated this genealogy [of Jesus] were insistent on on the point that Jesus was descended from the first man and from the king of the Jews [David]. The poor carpenter's wife seems not to have known she had such a distinguished bunch of ancestors." (64). "What an absurdity! Clearly the Christians have used the myths of Danae and the Melanippe, or of the Auge and the Antiope in fabricating the story of Jesus' virgin birth." (57). "After all, the old myths of the Greeks that attribute a divine birth to Perseus, Amphion, Aeacus and Minos are equally good evidence of their wondrous works on behalf of mankind- and are certainly no less lacking in plausibility than the stories of your followers." (59).Notice he alludes to knowledge not in Christian records (he wrote against Christians not against Jews so he was not talking to Jews when he said that).Moreover why does he speaks of Jews at all? Therefore he's alluding to knowledge fromv the Talmud since the things he says fit what's in the Talmud.
It's clear that Celsus got his information from Talmudic sources. He clearly understood Jesus to be a man in history. He's giving his biographical data. That his sources were Jewish is unmistakable since he calls Jesus "Pantera" which no Christian source ever did or would ever do. This indicates that he's drawing upon sources that had been around for sometime, and probably go back to the time of Christ.
Celsus demonstrates a connection to the material of the Talmud, indicating that that material about Jesus was around in a least the second century. Since Jewish sources would not have been readily available to Celsus it seems reasonable to assume that this information had been floating around for some time, and easier to obtain. Therefore, we can at least went back to the early second, late first century.
So we estabilsh:
(1) Mary was poor and worked with her hands
(2) husband was a carpenter
(3)Mary committed adultery with Roman soldier named Panthera. (where have we heard this before?)
(4) Jesus as bastard
(5) driven to Egypt where Jesus learned magic.
Here is a mishna passage, which makes most of the points. Being from the Mishna it would draw upon first century material:
MISHNAH.[104b] If one writes on his flesh, he is culpable; He who scratches a mark on his flesh. He who scratches a mark on his flesh, [etc.] It was taught, R. Eliezar said to the sages: But did not Ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh? He was a fool, answered they, proof cannot be adduced from fools. [Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandira? - Said R. Hisda: The husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira. But the husband was Pappos b. Judah? - his mother was Stada. But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser? - It is as we said in Pumbeditha: This is one has been unfaithful to (lit., 'turned away from'- satath da) her husband.] (Shabbath 104b)
In fact Origin himself almost hints at special knowledge of Jesus "true" origins, what would that knowledge be? Christian knowledge would be positive and not contain many of the points, such as Mary being a spinner or hair dresser. No Christians ever said that. It was suspect for a woman to work. That's an insult to her.
But how does this prove the figure he talks about was Jesus? He says clearly it was. All the things he speaks about are identical to the information from Mishna. Apparently his Jewish contacts told him this is the secret information about Jesus' life. We see that everywhere in the Talmud Jesus is talked about as a living person, and connections are made to his family and genealogy. That takes the information of Jesus as historical back to first century (Mishna is first century).
Origin thought Celsus had Jewish contacts who told him things about Jesus that agree with these suspected Talmudic readings:
In both accounts [see JVL above] the father of Jesus is called Pantira. Epiphanius reports that Pantira was another name of Jacob, the father of Joseph, father of Jesus (Adversus Haereses 3:78, 7). It is possible that this statement should be regarded as an answer to the assertion of the Jews which is also mentioned by Origen. He mentions that Celsus heard from a Jew that Miriam had been divorced by her husband who suspected her of adultery, and that Jesus was born as the result of her secret affair with a Roman soldier, Panthera (Πανθηρα; Contra Celsum 1:28, 32). In the Tosefta there is no suggestion of anything disparaging in the name Pantira, but it is found in the statement of a third-century Babylonian amora, a young contemporary of Celsus, where it is connected with the name *Ben Stada. Ben Stada is mentioned in the Tosefta (Shab. 11:15) and in the Babylonian Talmud (Sanh. 67a; Dik. Sof. ad loc.). The reading is "And thus they did to Ben Stada in Lydda and hanged him on the eve of Passover." This reading has been taken to refer to Jesus, but there is no basis in tannaitic literature for this identification. When Eliezer referred to Jesus he called him by name.This on Celsus along with evidence on passion narrative should destroy the nonsense that Jesus was not a real man in history.