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§ 36. Summary of the Objections to Christianity.

In general the leading arguments of the Judaism and heathenism of this period against the new religion are the following:

1. Against Christ: his illegitimate birth; his association with poor, unlettered fishermen, and rude publicans: his form of a servant, and his ignominious death. But the opposition to him gradually ceased. While Celsus called him a downright impostor, the Syncretists and Neo-Platonists were disposed to regard him as at least a distinguished sage.

2. Against Christianity: its novelty; its barbarian origin; its want of a national basis; the alleged absurdity of some of its facts and doctrines, particularly of regeneration and the resurrection; contradictions between the Old and New Testaments, among the Gospels, and between Paul and Peter; the demand for a blind, irrational faith.

3. Against the Christians: atheism, or hatred of the gods; the worship of a crucified malefactor; poverty, and want of culture and standing; desire of innovation; division and sectarianism; want of patriotism; gloomy seriousness; credulity; superstition, and fanaticism. Sometimes they were charged even with unnatural crimes, like those related in the pagan mythology of Oedipus and his mother Jocaste (concubitus Oedipodei), and of Thyestes and Atreus (epulae Thyesteae). Perhaps some Gnostic sects ran into scandalous excesses; but as against the Christians in general this charge was so clearly unfounded, that it is not noticed even by Celsus and Lucian. The senseless accusation, that they worshipped an ass’s head, may have arisen, as Tertullian already intimates,9090    Apol.c. 16:"Somniastis caput asininun esse deum nostrum. Hanc Cornelius Tacitus suspicionem ejusmodi dei inseruit,"etc.9 from a story of Tacitus, respecting some Jews, who were once directed by a wild ass to fresh water, and thus relieved from the torture of thirst; and it is worth mentioning, only to show how passionate and blind was the opposition with which Christianity in this period of persecution had to contend.

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