of the earliest of the ancient barbarian sages, Celsus argued that it was Moses who incited the Jews to break away from their native Egypt,29 and who taught them to reject the ancient theology in favour of a crude monotheism.30 Despite its peculiarities, however, Judaism at least had the advantage of antiquitas on its side. About a half-century before Celsus, the Roman historian Tacitus had rendered a similar judgement: however alien the beliefs and practices of the Jews may be, they were upheld by their antiquity.31 But not so Christianity. As far as Celsus was concerned, it had no tradition and hence no authority. Indeed, it stood at twice remove from the prevailing Graeco-Roman culture (C. Cels. 5.25-33).

The politics of monotheism

We have already encountered the notion of an 'ancient theology' in Nume-nius' interpretation of the history of philosophy. In the Alethes logos this idea receives its fullest expression. Whereas Justin had endeavoured to connect Christianity with this ancient theological tradition through the ancient books of Moses and the prophets, Celsus tried to drive a wedge between Christianity and this ancient tradition. 'There is an ancient doctrine (archaios logos),' Celsus wrote, 'which has existed from the beginning, which has always been maintained by the wisest nations and cities and sages' (C. Cels. 1.14). Significantly, the list includes Greeks as well as 'barbarians': Egyptians, Assyrians, Indians, Persians, Odrysians, Samothracians and Eleusinians, as well as the Hyperboreans, Galactophagoi, Druids and Getae. Celsus also singles out such inspired theologians as Linus, Musaeus, Orpheus, Pherecydes, Zoroaster and Pythagoras, who 'understood this tradition and put down their doctrines in books which exist to this day' (C. Cels. 1.14, 16). Conspicuously absent from these lists are Moses and the Jews. Whereas Numenius had included them in his attempt to return to the origins of the tradition - from Plato to Pythagoras, and from Pythagoras to the Brahmans, Jews, magi and Egyptians - Celsus excluded them. In his view Moses and the Jews had misunderstood and deliberately distorted the archaios logos or 'ancient norm'. He writes,

[Those] who followed Moses were deluded by clumsy deceits into thinking that there was only one god, and without any rational cause they abandoned the worship of many gods. [They] thought that there was one god called Most

31 Hist. 5.5.1; on which see Stern, Greek and Latin authors, vol. 11,17-63.

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