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Origen Against Celsus by Origen

Chapter XXXI. After this, wishing to prove that there is no difference between Jews and Christiansà

After this, wishing to prove that there is no difference between Jews and Christians, and those animals previously enumerated by him, he asserts that the Jews were |fugitives from Egypt, who never performed anything worthy of note, and never were held in any reputation or account.| Now, on the point of their not being fugitives, nor Egyptians, but Hebrews who settled in Egypt, we have spoken in the preceding pages. But if he thinks his statement, that |they were never held in any reputation or account,| to be proved, because no remarkable event in their history is found recorded by the Greeks, we would answer, that if one will examine their polity from its first beginning, and the arrangement of their laws, he will find that they were men who represented upon earth the shadow of a heavenly life, and that amongst them God is recognised as nothing else, save He who is over all things, and that amongst them no maker of images was permitted to enjoy the rights of citizenship. For neither painter nor image-maker existed in their state, the law expelling all such from it; that there might be no pretext for the construction of images, -- an art which attracts the attention of foolish men, and which drags down the eyes of the soul from God to earth. There was, accordingly, amongst them a law to the following effect: |Do not transgress the law, and make to yourselves a graven image, any likeness of male or female; either a likeness of any one of the creatures that are upon the earth, or a likeness of any winged fowl that flieth under the heaven, or a likeness of any creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, or a likeness of any of the fishes which are in the waters under the earth.| The law, indeed, wished them to have regard to the truth of each individual thing, and not to form representations of things contrary to reality, feigning the appearance merely of what was really male or really female, or the nature of animals, or of birds, or of creeping things, or of fishes. Venerable, too, and grand was this prohibition of theirs: |Lift not up thine eyes unto heaven, lest, when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and all the host of heaven, thou shouldst be led astray to worship them, and serve them.| And what a régime was that under which the whole nation was placed, and which rendered it impossible for any effeminate person to appear in public; and worthy of admiration, too, was the arrangement by which harlots were removed out of the state, those incentives to the passions of the youth! Their courts of justice also were composed of men of the strictest integrity, who, after having for a lengthened period set the example of an unstained life, were entrusted with the duty of presiding over the tribunals, and who, on account of the superhuman purity of their character, were said to be gods, in conformity with an ancient Jewish usage of speech. Here was the spectacle of a whole nation devoted to philosophy; and in order that there might be leisure to listen to their sacred laws, the days termed |Sabbath,| and the other festivals which existed among them, were instituted. And why need I speak of the orders of their priests and sacrifices, which contain innumerable indications (of deeper truths) to those who wish to ascertain the signification of things?
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