Against the Galileans 33


62 Now I must take up this other point and ask them, Why, pray, do you not practise circumcision? Paul, they answer, said that circumcision of the heart but not of the flesh was granted unto Abraham because he believed [ Romans 4. 11-12 and 2. 29]. Nay it was not now of the flesh that he spoke, and we ought to believe the pious words that were proclaimed by him and by Peter. On the other hand hear again that God is said to have given circumcision of the flesh to Abraham for a covenant and a sign : This is my covenant which ye shall keep, between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations. Ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be in token of a covenant betwixt me and thee and betwixt me and thy seed. . . . [ Genesis 17. 10-11; Matthew 5. 17, 19] Therefore when He 15 has undoubtedly taught that it is proper to observe the law, and threatened with punishment those who transgress one commandment, what manner of defending yourselves will you devise, you who have transgressed them all without exception? For either Jesus will be found to speak falsely, or rather you will be found in all respects and in every way to have failed to preserve the law. The circumcision shall be of thy flesh, says Moses [Genesis 17. 13]. But the Galilaeans do not heed him, and they say: We circumcise our hearts. By all means. For there is among you no evildoer, no sinner; so thoroughly do you circumcise your hearts. They say: We cannot observe the rule of unleavened bread or keep the Passover; for on our behalf Christ was sacrificed once and for all. Very well! Then did he forbid you to eat unleavened bread? And yet, I call the gods to witness, I am one of those who avoid keeping their festivals with the Jews; but nevertheless I revere always the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; who being themselves Chaldaeans, of a sacred race, skilled in theurgy, had learned the practice of circumcision while they sojourned as strangers with the Egyptians. And they revered a God who was ever gracious to me and to those who worshipped him as Abraham did, for he is a very great and powerful God, but he has nothing to do with you. For you do not imitate Abraham by erecting altars to him, or building altars of sacrifice and worshipping him as Abraham did, with sacrificial offerings. For Abraham used to sacrifice even as we Hellenes do, always and continually. And he used the method of divination from shooting stars. Probably this also is an Hellenic custom. But for higher things he augured from the flight of birds.

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