Honors Bachelor of Arts

Document Type


Faculty Advisor

Thesis Director: Dr. Thomas Strunk; Thesis Readers: Dr. Arthur Dewey, Dr. Anna Miller; HAB Course Director: Dr. Shannon Hogue




This thesis aims to take part in that discovery by looking away from the popular stories of Christianity’s tumultuous beginnings and towards the interim periods of relative peace between persecutions. Indeed, in following De Ste. Croix’s timeline, there is a noticeable gap between Nero’s persecution in 64 AD and Decius’ in 250 AD. How were Christians interacting with the Roman Empire in those roughly 200 years? While a complete answer to that question is far beyond the scope of this thesis, much insight can still be gained by examining one particular part of the clash between Christians and the Roman Empire. To that end, this thesis will examine the works of the 2nd-century philosopher Celsus and the Christian apologist Origen. Celsus’ Λόγος Ἀληθής (ca. 175 AD), a treatise attacking Christianity, and Origen’s Contra Celsum (ca. 250 AD), an answer to Celsus’ attacks, preserve for modern readers a profound look into the beliefs of Christians and Graeco-Romans in the 2nd-3rd century Roman Empire. Celsus’ treatise is the most substantial extant work against the Christians. In it, he displays his deep disdain for Christianity by criticizing nearly every aspect of the faith. This thesis will focus in particular on his criticisms of Christian doctrine, the Christian God, and Christian people. Celsus finds essentially nothing to be praised in Christianity, zealously and thoroughly deconstructing many of its teachings. Because he addresses so many aspects of Christianity, Celsus’ treatise allows modern readers to understand the complex set of complaints that Graeco-Romans like Celsus had about Christianity. The thoroughness

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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