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Origen Against Celsus by Origen

Chapter XXVIII. After thus misrepresenting our views of the nature of Godà

After thus misrepresenting our views of the nature of God, Celsus goes on to ask of us |where we hope to go after death;| and he makes our answer to be, |to another land better than this.| On this he comments as follows: |The divine men of a former age have spoken of a happy life reserved for the souls of the blessed. Some designated it the isles of the blest,' and others the Elysian plain,' so called because they were there to be delivered from their present evils. Thus Homer says: But the gods shall send thee to the Elysian plain, on the borders of the earth, where they lead a most quiet life.' Plato also, who believed in the immortality of the soul, distinctly gives the name land' to the place where it is sent. The extent of it,' says he, is immense, and we only occupy a small portion of it, from the Phasis to the Pillars of Hercules, where we dwell along the shores of the sea, as grasshoppers and frogs beside a marsh. But there are many other places inhabited in like manner by other men. For there are in different parts of the earth cavities, varying in form and in magnitude, into which run water, and clouds, and air. But that land which is pure lies in the pure region of heaven.'| Celsus therefore supposes that what we say of a land which is much better and more excellent than this, has been borrowed from certain ancient writers whom he styles |divine,| and chiefly from Plato, who in his Phædon discourses on the pure land lying in a pure heaven. But he does not see that Moses, who is much older than the Greek literature, introduces God as promising to those who lived according to His law the holy land, which is |a good land and a large, a land flowing with milk and honey;| which promise is not to be understood to refer, as some suppose, to that part of the earth which we call Judea; for it, however good it may be, still forms part of the earth, which was originally cursed for the transgression of Adam. For these words, |Cursed shall the ground be for what thou hast done; with grief, that is, with labour, shalt thou eat of the fruit of it all the days of thy life,| were spoken of the whole earth, the fruit of which every man who died in Adam eats with sorrow or labour all the days of his life. And as all the earth has been cursed, it brings forth thorns and briers all the days of the life of those who in Adam were driven out of paradise; and in the sweat of his face every man eats bread until he returns to the ground from which he was taken. For the full exposition of all that is contained in this passage much might be said; but we have confined ourselves to these few words at present, which are intended to remove the idea, that what is said of the good land promised by God to the righteous, refers to the land of Judea.
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