23. But what shall be said to this, if those vain eulogizers of Christ, and those crooked slanderers of the Christian religion, lack the daring to blaspheme Christ, for this particular reason that some of their philosophers, as Porphyry of Sicily 564 has given us to understand in his books, consulted their gods as to their response on the subject of [the claims of] Christ, and were constrained by their own oracles to laud Christ? Nor should that seem incredible. For we also read in the Gospel that the demons confessed Him; 565 and in our prophets it is written in this wise: “For the gods of the nations are demons.” 566 Thus it happens, then, that in order to avoid attempting aught in opposition to the responses of their own deities, they turn their blasphemies aside from Christ, and pour them forth against His disciples. It seems to me, however, that these gods of the Gentiles, whom the philosophers of the pagans may have consulted, if they were asked to give their judgment on the disciples of Christ, as well as on Christ Himself, would be constrained to praise them in like manner.
The philosopher of the Neo-Platonic school, better known as one of the earliest and most learned antagonists of Christianity. Though a native either of Tyre or Batanea, he is called here, as also again in the Retractations, ii. 31, a Sicilian, because, according to Jerome and Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. vi. 19), it was in Sicily that he wrote his treatise in fifteen books against the Christian religion.—Tr.86:565 86:566
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