Saturday, May 30, 2015

Was Simon Peter of Rome really Simon Magus?

This is a follow up to my post where I discredit the Peter being n Rome tradition.

There is an hypothesis out there that Simon Magus's travel to Rome got confused with Peter, and he's the real founder of the Catholic Church via influencing men like Valentinius.  This theory is sometimes presented by people who still think Peter went to Rome.

The traditions of Peter's time in Rome connects him to Simon, the references to him arriving in 42 AD say he came there to oppose Simon Magus.  Some sources contradict the idea of Peter coming twice and list him as ruling Rome for 25 years, from 42-67.  Later apocryphal literature has Peter and Simon battling in Rome during the time of Nero.  It is curious that Peter's death is traditionally dated to 67 AD while the brief Persecution of Christians in Rome under Nero was in 64, right after the fire.

Jerome is the oldest source for Peter coming to Rome to oppose Simon, he's a post Constantine source.  Justin is the oldest source on Simon magus coming to Rome and doesn't mention Peter opposing him there.  Justin is older then any chief source on Peter coming to Rome at all.

One of the over looked implications of what Simon Magus tried to do in Acts 8 was to buy the office of Apostle.  When that failed perhaps he sought to make himself a false Apostle.

Josephus in Antiquities of The Jews Book 20 Chapter 7 discuses another Magus named Simon, who is linked to Antionus Felix and his marriage to Herod Agrippa II's sister Drusilla.  This Simon appears to be a Cypriot Jew rather then a Samaritan however.

Acts 13 has a False Prophet called Bar-Jesus encounter Paul in Cyprus, who is also called a Magus.  The use of that same word has occasionally caused speculation that he is Simon Magus, independent of the possible Josephus connection.  But I feel Luke would have made clear if this was the same man as Acts 8.  But Simon was a common enough name that it could be the same Magus as Josephus.

A different Josephus account in Book 18 of Pilate's removal includes a sort of False Messiah or False Prophet figure of the Samaritans who helped get them riled up, and who remains unnamed.
"The man who excited them to it was one who thought lying a thing of little consequence, and who contrived every thing so that the multitude might be pleased; so he bid them to get together upon Mount Gerizzim, which is by them looked upon as the most holy of all mountains, and assured them, that when they were come thither, he would show them those sacred vessels which were laid under that place, because Moses put them there"

Acts 8:9-11 says of Simon Magus.  " But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.  And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries."

 The Samaritan chronicler Abul Fath mentions a sect headed by a R. Zadok which was tied to the heretic who claimed to be the “booth” or “booths” of the new Tabernacle. He speaks of “five brothers who from [the Samaritan holy mountain Gerizim] who were called [the Sons of Zadoq] and also another man called Zadoq the Elder from Bayt Far who deviated from “booths” and his companions, saying that Mount Gerizim is as holy as if the Samaritan temple were [still] standing upon it and that while one was obligated to do what was written [in the Law of Moses] he need not do what was not possible for him.” His community apparently “invoked him by the name mentioned [in the report of Booths] above, i.e. the Mediator, and agreed with [Booths] about abolishing … the rule of “Moses commanded for us a Law” [Deut 33:4]

I think, maybe these were the same individuals.  There are other reasons to view Acts 6-11 as being about 36/7 AD.  Wikipedia speculates that the martyrdom of Stephen must've been during the brief administration of Marcellus.  And Paul synchronizes the time of his Conversion to when Aretas controlled Damascus (2 Corinthians 11:32).  Which he didn't before Caligula became Emperor.

Justin Martyr (in his Apologies, and in a lost work against heresies, which Irenaeus used as his main source) and Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses) record that after being cast out by the Apostles, Simon Magus came to Rome where, having joined to himself a profligate woman of the name of Helen, he gave out that it was he who appeared among the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father and among other nations as the Holy Spirit. He performed such miracles by magic acts during the reign of Claudius that he was regarded as a god and honored with a statue on the island in the Tiber which the two bridges cross, with the inscription Simoni Deo Sancto, "To Simon the Holy God".

Modern archaeologists have found a statue on the Island Justin describes.  It is actually to an obscure ancient Roman deity and reads Semoni Sanco Deo.  Scholars tend to assume Justin simply misread the statue.  But it could be Simon had sought to identify himself with that deity, or his followers did.

Justin says he also sought to be called The Father.  When Jesus said "Call no man father" the Greek text uses the word Pater.  That is one of the Greek words that is basically the same in Latin.  Jupiter means "Father Jove" (some scholars have sought to identify Semo Sancus as an early form of Jupiter).  The name Peter is actually Petros in Greek, Peter is a perfectly valid transliteration.  But it's also possible that if Simon Magus ever called himself "Simon Piter" while in Rome, it could have been a source of confusion.

A number of traditions related to Simon in Rome say he was buried there, and that he was liked by Nero.  Those are possibly merely further embellishments of the same legends saying he was in conflict with Peter.  But if he did ever have Imperial connections, and was possibly made an honorary Pontiff (priests of Pagan Rome) he could have been buried in that same pagan cemetery where tradition says Peter's body was buried.

His heresy was Gnostic in nature, and as I've said elsewhere Catholic Dogma has a lot of Gnostic roots, especially their attitude toward Sex.  Gnosticism doesn't need the weird Cosmology that Simon and others taught, the root of it is viewing the Flesh as inherently evil and denying a bodily Resurrection.  His mistress Helen was given the Sofia role, his Queen of Heaven.

Simon Magus is considered the first Christian Gnostic (whether or not the less well known non-christian Gnostics already existed is heavily debated).  The next three figures usually cited in the history of Christian Gnosticism are Cerinthus, Valentinus and Marcion.  I am skeptical of how accurately the views of such figures are represented by their critics.  Marcion is considered debatable whether or not he was really a Gnostic.

Cerinthus we have the least biographical information on.  But he seems to be the only one of those three old enough for his life to have overlapped with the Apostolic era, since there is a legend about John fleeing a bath house he entered.  However I know of nothing linking him to Rome or Italy.

Valentinus lived from about 100-160 AD.  Valentinus was a candidate for the office of Bishop of Rome in 136 AD but lost out and then founded his own sect.  Reportedly he said his mentor was a Thaudes (not identified with anyone who has a similar name in The Bible) who claimed to be a student of Paul.  It might be he was being deceptive and was really a successor of Simon.

Question is if a man such as him could be a candidate and the competition wasn't that far off, could those who did became Bishops of Rome in this era really be much better?  The man who won out was Hyginus, who supposedly decreed that all churches be "consecrated" (not sure what he could have meant as there were no church buildings yet, possible he didn't really say this but it was attributed to him later).  The Liber Pontificalis also relates that he organized the hierarchy and established the order of ecclesiastical precedence.  He is also said to have been buried on Vatican Hill.

Where might Simon's ideas have come from?  Well he was a Samaritan.

The religion of Jeroboam was never a non Yahwhitic religion.  Ahab and Jezebel worshiped Baal but they were distinct from the usual religion of Jeroboam.  Jehoram and Jehu both continued the sins of Jeorboam and had Yahweh theophoric names.

Jeroboam erected two Idols that were Bull or Calf animals at Dan and Bethel.  Probably modeled after the Golden Calf from Exodus, who was identified by the people with the God who delivered them out of Egypt.  He worshiped Yahweh just in an idolatrous form.  He created a new Feast a month after Tabernacles.  And he created a non Levite Presithood, the Levites all went to Judah after he started his Idolatry.

After the Northern Kingdom was deported, many people from Mesopotamia were settled in the lands around Samaria and Shechem, and they brought their native Babylonian Idols with them.  Then a descendant of Jeroboam's priesthood was brought to them who restored the religion of Jeroboam.

Now the Samaritan community today does not have these idolatrous practices anymore, while still unbelievers from a Christian POV they have become a strictly Mosiac religion.  How did that happen?  Well Josiah destroying the Idol at Bethel no doubt helped, if you've studied Spiritual Warfare you know that Idols do develop demonic power over time from receiving worship that further draws people to them.  The reason they have an Aaronic Priesthood now is because as Josephus records in the time of Alexander The Great a brother of the current High Priest in Jerusalem married the daughter of the gentile Governor of Samaria and with Alexander's support built his own Temple on Mt Gerizim.

Some heretical sects did pop up among them however.  The Dositheans are speculated to have had Gnostic elements.  The Samaritan Chronicler Abu al-Fath says their founder Dositheos lived before the time of Alexander The Great, while others make him a contemporary of Ptolemy IV.  But many Christians traditions about him developed confusing and contradictory connections to Simon Magus.  Dositheos is not mentioned by Justin.

Hadrian also refereed to Samaritans falling into Idolatry in Alexandria.  Alexandria's Samaritan population like it's Jewish one goes back to it's founding.

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