Introductory note to the works of Origen

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Part II


The treatise of Origen Against Celsus is, of all his works, the most interesting to the modern reader. It is a defence of Christianity in opposition to a Greek philosopher named Celsus, who had attacked it in a work entitled 'Alhqh\ j Lo/loj, that is, The True Word, or The True Discourse. Of this work we know nothing, except from the quotations contained in the answer given to it by Origen. Nor has anything very certain been ascertained respecting its author. According to Origen, he was a follower of Epicures, but others have regarded him as a Platonist. If we may judge of the work by those specimens of it presented in the reply of Origen, it was little better than a compound of sophistry and slander. But there is reason to be grateful for it, as having called forth the admirable answer of Origen. This work was written in the old age of our author, and is composed with great care; while it abounds with proofs of the widest erudition. It is also perfectly orthodox; and, as Bishop Bull has remarked, it is only fair that we should judge from a work written with the view of being considered by the world at large, and with the most elaborate care, as to the mature and finally accepted views of the author.

The best edition of Origen's works is that superintended by Charles and Charles Vincent de la Rue, Paris, 1783, 4 vols. for., which is reprinted by Migne. There is also an edition in 25 volumes, based upon that of De la Rue, but without the Latin translation, by Lommatzsch, Berlin, 1831-1848. The De Principiis has been separately edited by Redepenning, Leipzig, 1836. Spencer edited the Contra Celsum, Cambridge, 1677.

[Professor Crombie was assisted in the Contra Celsum by the Rev. W. H. Cairns, M.A., Rector of the Dumfries Academy. Mr. Cairns (since deceased) was the translator of Books VII. and VIII. of that work.]

[The Works of Origen included in this volume having been placed in my hands by the Right Reverend Editor of the present series (who restricts himself to a limited task of supervision), I have endeavoured to do for them that which seemed needful in the circumstances. The temptation was strong to enter upon annotations, for which no one of the authors among the Ante-Nicene Fathers offers larger room, and to insert corrections of various sorts, based upon modern progress and research. But, in accordance with the plan of this series, I have been forced to resist this temptation, and have striven only to be useful in matters which, though of great moment, are toilsome, and in no wise flattering to editorial vanity or conceit.

I have silently corrected numerous typographical errors which exist in the Edinburgh edition, and have sought to secure uniformity in the details of reproducing the work, and, above all, accuracy in all its parts. Particularly, I may mention that the Scripture references needed correction to the extent of more than a hundred places, and that references to classical and other writers were often quite astray. A very few notes, enclosed in brackets, are all that I have deemed it expedient or proper, on my part, to add.

While no one who is aware of human infirmity will ever dare to claim perfection in the typography of a book which has passed through the press under his hands, yet in the present case I venture to assure the student and reader that no pains or effort have been spared in order to make the volume as accurate as possible in this respect. Much experience and training incline me to hope and believe that success has attended my efforts. S.]

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