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date: 10 December 2023


, Roman author of The True Doctrine, late 2nd cent. CE


, Roman author of The True Doctrine, late 2nd cent. CE
  • William David Ross
  •  and David Potter


Author of a comprehensive philosophical polemic against *Christianity, The True Doctrine, written probably between 175 and 181 (Origen, C. Cels. 8. 69, 71). The work is primarily known through *Origen (1)'s Contra Celsum, which directly quotes selected passages. Celsus wrote from the perspective of a Middle Platonic philosopher, though in one section of his work he also appears to have adopted the criticism levelled against Christianity by a Jew (Origen, C. Cels. 1. 28). The True Doctrine is important evidence for knowledge of Christian doctrine among Gentiles, as well as for the difficulty outsiders had in determining the difference between ‘orthodox’ Christians and *Gnostic fringe groups (Origen, C. Cels. 5. 61 ff.). The importance of Celsus’ book is suggested by the fact that Origen's massive refutation was written in the 240s.Efforts to identify this Celsus with the Celsus who is the addressee of Lucian's Alexander are not convincing: the author of The True Doctrine was a Platonist, while the recipient of the Alexander was evidently an Epicurean.


  • Christianity
  • Philosophy

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