“Let Them Not Share in the Affairs of Life”: How Ancient Christians Were Viewed as Dangerous to Society

Celsus “just can’t stand Christians.”

So, writes James O’Donnell (Pagans, 101) as he describes the vicious opposition to Christians in the earliest centuries, particularly from the second-century critic Celsus.

A few weeks ago, I began a short, three-part blog series about what people in the ancient world thought of Christians. In the prior post, we explored how Celsus viewed Christians as ignorant, uneducated simpletons.

In other words, one of the main problems with Christians was intellectual in nature.

But Celsus is by no means finished. In this post, we will see that he thinks that Christians also have a behavioral problem.  Their actions are rude, anti-social, and …

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Are Christians Ignorant, Uneducated, Simpletons? Sort Of

Some things never change.  At least when it comes to what critics think of Christianity.

When we hear modern-day stereotypes of Christianity we might assume that they are, well, modern.  These are criticisms, we think, that pertain to the present cultural moment in which we find ourselves.

But, a quick survey of the earliest Christian critics shows that there really is nothing new under the sun.  Even when it comes to complaints about Christians.

Take, for example, the prolific anti-Christian philosopher Celsus. Around AD 177, Celsus published his True Doctrine, a scathing, witty, and biting critique of the early Christian movement.

Celsus’ critique is wide-ranging, but there are …

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