A rare find that’s almost too good to be true:

Demetrius to Celsus, greetings. I pray you may always be in good health for many years to come. I praise you for your inquiring mind to discern the truth and wish to pass on to you what I have learned about the new Christ cult. Originating from the small barbarian province of Judea, the Christians worship one named Jesus, an unlearned man of dishonorable origin, whose recent fame should not be cause for concern.

Adherents to the Christ cult claim him to be a god-king, but I assure you that he is neither. A king is born in a palace; this man was born in the stable of a poor country town. A king is born into nobility, but this man was born to a harlot whose husband rejected her when he learned of her affair with the Roman soldier, Panthera. Clearly the Christians have stolen their myths from Danae to perpetuate their falsehoods.

But is he a god? What absurdity! There is but one to whom our knees bow and his name is Caesar. Jesus learned magical crafts in Egypt and performed supposed miracles by sleight of hand for his kinsman. He roamed the countryside homeless and begging for food. The proof of his humanity lies in his most ignominious death, of which I am ashamed to even mention. He was justly executed by the honorable Marcus Pontus Pilate for the charlatan that he was. The gods do not die–to say nothing of crucifixion–and this is just cause to disbelieve reports of his resurrection. The gods are courageous warriors, but this man did not have the valor or honor to fight for his cause or refute his accusers. Would a god be betrayed so readily by his followers? No general worth his salt would be abandoned by the men he leads. How can he be a god when is he hardly a man?

But this humiliating death has not quelled the fervor of his fanatical followers. Even from the depths of Hades, this man has led a silent insurrection against Caesar without he or his followers brandishing a sword.

Jesus’s words were his weapon of choice and they resound in cities throughout the empire. I have interrogated them with great interest, intent as I am to assure you of their folly. His teachings lack the genius of Plato and the sophistication of Epictetus. They are simple, without adornment, and of great offense to our virtue. He deceives the world by calling good, evil and evil, good. To Jesus, one’s worth depends not on the nobility of their birth or the vastness of their wealth. Indeed, wealth seems to have been abhorrent to him. Treachery and integrity are both to be rewarded with his heavenly father’s divine benevolence. He speaks not of honor and strength, but humility, and the debased are esteemed. One surmises that the great heroes Achilles, Perseus, or Jason would have been mocked by him for their dignity!

How could such a man be worshiped as a god, when he so ruthlessly destroys the piety of our gods? Fittingly, this fraudulent king has cultivated the most deplorable of followers. For only the poor, uneducated, and most vulgar of people could be persuaded by his libel against our traditions and values. This impostor promises eternal life in exchange for nothing because nothing is what the illiterate masses have to offer. I do not fault those unfortunate souls who have fallen under this pretender’s spell any more than I blame a horse for the misfortunes afflicted upon it by the rider. But the nobles among the Christ cult have no excuse, for they have willfully betrayed their gods and their people.

I am happy to report to you that the Christ cult is no threat to the doctrines of our fathers. Do not worry for the gods and their honor. While the Christians have spread under our noses like a plague and early efforts to quell it have only spread it further, their folly is plain to the learned and will soon vanish as quickly as it arose. Their ceaseless prayers are heard by no one and their cries will be silenced by either the lions or Jupiter himself.

Take care of your health and I look forward much to hearing from you. I commend to you my young servant Irenaeus and and his elderly companion Justinus. They hail from Syria and have an unusual eagerness to deliver this letter to you. They are ignorant in the ways of our gods and would surely benefit from your great learning. Farewell. 9 July.