False Gods, Divine Charlatans and Pagan Rapscallions

In my first article, I explored how the Church Father theologians like Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, evaluated pagan gods like Aesculapius and Dionysus as well as Gnostic heretics like Simon Magus, Carpocrates, Mani and of course, the Gnostics themselves and their associations with healing, charlatanism, demonic fabrications and sorcery. And as it turns out, the many heresiarchs’ magical practices painfully described by the Catholic heresiologists, actually match up well and are virtually identical with Jesus’ own practices and identification as “Son of God” described in the Gospels and by his multiple detractors being the Pharisees and pagan philosophers like Celsus. Yet, there are even more fascinating details regarding these troublesome heretics, saucy saviors and pagan rapscallion demigods.

Gemini Constellation Zodiac

Daimonic Doubles

According to Acts, Simon Magus was a fraud and trickster who feigned his Christian faith. Simon also supposedly assumed that the apostles themselves performed their healing by the art of sorcery, and not by the power of God, through the imposition of hands. His suspected that such miracles were done through a kind of greater knowledge of magic, while offering money to the apostles. By this offering of money, he thought, he too, might receive this power of bestowing the Holy Spirit. Peter rebukes this attempt to buy the power of the Holy Spirit, when he says in Acts viii. 20, 21, 23:

“Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God can be purchased with money: thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God; for I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.”

Harsh words from the Rock, himself against the humble magician. Simon whimpers away by saying:

“Pray ye for me to the Lord, that none of the things which ye have spoken come upon me.”

In this instance, Simon was behaving in true Hellenic tradition, whereby it was considered common practice to offer money in return for sharing ideas and secrets. Before this encounter, Simon was impressed by the apostle Philip’s cures and exorcisms. He decided to be baptized, but saw Christianity more like a magical system than a new religion. He probably didn’t care much about the distinction, being of a practical theurgist that he was. His intention to buy the apostle’s secret of “laying on of hands” for healing for Simon was basically a great magic trick.

Unfortunately, it offended the apostle Peter, who hated on Simon Magus immediately. Simon, who considered all of them professional magicians, could not see what was wrong in buying a perfectly good trade secret for a fair price. He probably thought Peter behaved like a pompous hypocritical douche-bag, but being a particularly pleasant man, Simon took the rebuke with good grace.

Not surprisingly, this event of Simon Magus offering the Jerusalem group money for his endorsement, mirrors almost exactly with Paul in the epistles such as: 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, 2 Corinthians 8:1-4, Romans 15:25-31. In Galations 2:1-10we see a clear theological dispute between Paul and Peter, with the Jewish community breaking with Paul over it.

“But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us— we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles)…”

All of this has lead some to theorize that the whole lot of the Clementine literature is nothing more than a romantic satire of the tumultuous events that transpired between Paul and Peter, with Simon Magus being a caricature of Paul the Apostle as well as his docetic savior, Jesus Christ. Early New Testament critics like F.C. Baur theorized Paul and Simon were based on the same historical figure, Paul representing a positive evaluation of this figure while Simon represents a very tainted, negative one. In one sense, Simon could very well be seen as the “evil twin” or “doppelganger” of Paul because of their similiar biographical cues and doctrines they taught to their disciples. This seems like a mirror effect, playing off the dichotomy of Paul/Christ and Simon/the Anti-Christ.

simon-magus-money-peter

This generous patronage to churches doesn’t stop with Paul and Simon. Marcion of Pontus was also said to show up in Rome to buy the papacy 200,000 sesterces. However, the church turned Marcion’s money down flat because they disagreed with him theologically. In particular they were not willing incorporate Marcion’s radically dualistic notion of a creator God (YHWH) separate and distinct from the New Testament God of Jesus Christ (the foreign God). Perhaps it is this episode where the term “Simony” became associated with paying for office which isn’t even what Simon does in the Acts 8 story.

However, Paul’s epistles does speak of collection of money, much like Simon’s efforts in Acts. They all seem to indicate or point to one event, rather than multiple events with the same scenario, which goes something like this:
  • Paul arrives in Jerusalem with the collection and wants endorsement for his position and his gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • The Jerusalem group rejects his position and rejects his money.
  • Paul heads to Rome and the Jerusalem church and Paul break and are never reconciled.
  • Paul develops a theology that scripture and not ecclesiastical institutions as authoritative.
  • The 2nd century church downplays the degree of the split.

The writer of Acts goes to great lengths to Paul’s collection was a different beast, and Paul was accepted as an apostle before any money was involved. The rejection story involving Simon, probably never happened, as this is a morality play about what the church’s defense of rejecting Marcion’s money, distancing Paul from Simony and the figure of Simon Magus. However, by doing this, they inadvertently may have provided some proof that such figures were actually one and the same. In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Paul mentions the very same spiritual gifts that Simon was seeking to obtain from the Apostle Philip in 1 Corinthians 12: 7-10:

“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.”

Much like miracle workings attributed to Jesus in the Gospels, Paul in Acts also exhibits characteristics of a miracle worker and a *gasp* magician! Paul’s miracles forms the basis of his apostleship. Paul also heals a crippled man’s feet but we will examine this episode in the next installment. He made a blind man see again (Acts 13:6-12), raised a young man from the dead (Acts 20:7-2), much like Jesus did in John 11:38-44 with the raising of dead Lazarus, essentially resurrecting an Egyptian-like mummy back to life. The rest of the Gospel of John also has plenty of other Egyptian parallels and motifs starting with the mysteries of Osiris.

Paul’s miraculous powers also enabled him to survive stoning unscathed unlike Simon (Acts 14:19-20) and to survive what would have been a lethal snakebite (Acts 28:3-6). Of course, there is no mention of any of these events in the Epistles just as there is no mention of a murderous Christian-hunting Saul or any of the events ascribed to his conversion, as many scholars have pointed out Acts follows the Epistles much later, just like the four Gospels. Paul in Acts in actually, takes on many of the magical characteristics of Simon Magus, as an illusionist, and healing magician.

However, Paul in Acts 19:19, convinces many Ephesians to bring out their magical books so they can be burned, foreshadowing the great purge of esoteric and magical texts that would befall upon the Hellenistic world under the Theodosian Code, which enforced Christianity to be the state religion in Rome. This is no surprise since Acts was very likely written much later, in the 4th century.

“A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.”

Paul_Thecla

In the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla, Paul travels around with a virgin woman, who founds a string of churches and who also conducts water baptisms, much like the Samaritans like John the Baptist. According to the Church Fathers, Simon and his consort, Helena (Greek for “light”), also goes around and finds a bunch of churches as well as a large religious following. There is also some secular evidence that shows that not only did Simon Magus exist in reality and not a figment of some Church Father smoking dope somewhere, he was also conflated with none other than Paul. In Antiquities 20.7.2, the Jewish historian Josephus, makes a semi-explicit identification. Paulus is Latin for small. Josephus uses either “Atomos” (Greek for small) or Simon depending on the manuscript in this line, “and he sent to her a person whose name was Simon/Atomos.” In other words, “Atomos” was a nickname for Simon, being Simon-Paul!

Another “secular” instance exists in the episode of the expelling of the Jews from Rome by Caesar Claudius is recorded by a Roman historian named Suetonius. In A Historical Introduction to the New Testament (p. 293), Robert M. Grant states:

“Finally, Suetonius…says that in the reign of Claudius the emperor ‘expelled from Rome the Jews who were constantly rioting at the instigation of Chrestus (impulsore Chresto) (Claudius, 25).”

Thus, Suetonius understood, the Jews rioted in Rome at the instigation of someone named Chrestus. Almost certainly, this is someone claiming to be the Christ. Many scholars take this to mean that the rioting among the Jews involved Christians: for Christians proclaimed Jesus to be the Christ. If they are right, then there was a sizable body of Christian Jews at Rome by 49 CE. Also, note that Suetonius puts the blame for rioting on Chrestus himself rather than on his followers. This suggests that in 49 CE, there was someone in Rome claiming to be the Christ. Could this be Simon Magus?

Even more intriguing is that supposedly Marcionites preferred to call Jesus Chrestos, rather than Christos, because they believed Chrestos was a designation that he was the good god, rather than the evil god. Paul uses “Christ” more like a surname rather than a title.

The connections between Simon and Paul may also be found in the anti-Gnostic and Valentinian works by the Catholic Church Father Irenaeus (Against Heresies I.23.3), Simon based his sect on the following teaching:

Now this Simon of Samaria, from whom all sorts of heresies derive their origin, formed his sect out of the following materials: … men are saved through grace, and not on account of their own righteous works. For such deeds are not righteous in the nature of things, but by mere accident, just as those angels who made the world, have thought fit to constitute them, seeking, by means of such precepts, to bring men into bondage. On this account, he pledged himself that the world should be dissolved, and that those who are his should be freed from the rule of them who made the world.

What’s curious is that this is almost exactly the same gospel that Paul teaches in Galatians, particularly in chapters 2–4.

I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. (2.21)

Why then the law? … it was ordained through angels by a mediator. (3.19)

But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin… before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. (3.22-23)

…while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. (4.3)

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? (4.8-9)

The radical German New Testament critic Hermann Detering goes into much greater detail on the connections between Simon, Paul and Jesus, in his fascinating book, The Fabricated Paul: Early Christianity in the Twilight. He goes to great lengths to show how not only are the Catholic pastorals (Acts of the Apostles, Titus, 1 & 2 Timothy, etc.) featuring Paul and his antics non-historical but all of Paul’s epistles are actually Catholic forgeries, redacted from original Marcionite texts, which appear to be a Gnosticism at an earlier stage (although late in comparison to Simon’s time). This also implies Paul himself never actually existed. And neither did Peter.

The Pastorals themselves, are plainly anti-Gnostic religious documents who were more concerned about the organization of the Catholic Church. That being said then understand that the earliest Christians are Gnostic and the First New Testament of Marcion is Gnostic in teaching a non-human allegorical Christ or Savior. It is only through the heavily redacted and forged “Second New Testament” given to us by the later Roman forgery mill whereby Rome completely re-worked the first New Testament of Marcion and altered the original, spiritual understanding of “the Christ” into a Galilean Torah-observant Jew. The rest is history.

If Paul was so unequivocally anti-Gnostic as he is made to look in the Pastorals, then how would these earliest Gnostic Christians claim him as their great Pneumatic teacher? Paul distinguished between the god of this world and the supreme god (for him, Jesus Christ), as did the so-called Gnostics. He also attributed the law to inferior angelic powers, as did the Gnostics. And he also denied the humanity of Christ, as did most Gnostics. He even denied a carnal resurrection, just like the Gnostics. So aside from all the weird mythological stuff, which is all just conjecture anyway, what difference is there really? I don’t see much.

There are 13 letters attributed to Paul, along with the Acts of the Apostles devoted to the fantastic adventures of Paul. This Roman picture of Paul falls under scrutiny very quickly as a poorly fabricated lie, when cross referencing the epistles and Acts as well as the Nag Hammadi Library, which incorporates Paul’s name in its texts such as The Apocalypse of Paul, the Prayer of Paul, the Hypostasis of the Archons (which begins with Paul’s famous Colossians 1:13 on the “authorities of darkness,”), and the Acts of Paul and Thecla.

Of course, Marcion’s pro-Gentile, anti-Judiac beliefs naturally coincides with the dualism of Simon’s teaching found in the much reviled Clementine literature, that there were two Gods: the first God being good, while the second god being far inferior creator, who in turn forms the wicked cosmos from the tears of Sophia. This first God is mentioned by the Gnostic text Eugnostos the Blessed, which tells us tells us: “No one rules over him. He has no name; for whoever has a name is the creation of another. He is unnameable.”

The Catholic Church Father, Irenaeus dismisses all this in his report against the heretics (Against Heresies 4:34.1):

Now I shall simply say, in opposition to all the heretics, and principally against the followers of Marcion, and against those who are like to these, in maintaining that the prophets were from another God [than He who is announced in the Gospel], read with earnest care that Gospel which has been conveyed to us by the apostles, and read with earnest care the prophets, and you will find that the whole conduct, and all the doctrine, and all the sufferings of our Lord, were predicted through them.

Whether or not Detering is ultimately correct in all his arguments, the notable differences between Acts and Paul’s Epistles could fill up several books. For one, the author of Acts recharacterized Paul as convert to Catholicized Judeo-Christianity. The conversion story on the road to Damascus, isn’t mentioned even ONCE in his epistles—not once. Acts doesn’t even present Paul as an apostle. He’s just an evangelist under the ministerial authority of the twelve. Acts and the actual epistles are in complete contradiction. In the epistles, Paul and the Jewish apostles (i.e., the twelve) are bitter enemies. In Acts, they’re pals.

In Galatians, Paul forbids any Gentile convert to be circumcised. He also resists the Jewish apostles’ (Peter, James, and John) desire for Titus, a Gentile, to be circumcised. But in Acts, Paul circumcises Timothy to comply with Jewish law. Paul had some sort of conversion experience that he mentions in Galatians, but it had nothing to do with the road to Damascus. And going blind. That was all an invention of Acts. One would need to read a reconstruction of the Marcionite Galatians. It was very different than the canonical form.

Throughout Paul’s epistles, are there chock full of Gnostic buzzwords and concepts. The term aeons are used for elements, pleroma for fullness, Sophia for the female side of divinity, apocryphon for hidden or secret mysteries, and terms to describe various heavenly beings in the cosmos, like archons and cosmocrators. These are the blundering foolish angels who created the universe, out of arrogance and stupidity, to keep fallen mankind from the knowledge of the primoridal aeons. This is the primary reason why Christ, being the embodiment of the pleroma, reached down into hellish matter to ransom man from the clutches of Satan (Jehovah) and the spiritual resurrection. Paul’s epistles, when left un-translated in the Greek, often seem to take for granted the truth of these terribly heretical ideas.

“When we were children, we were in bondage under the elements of the cosmos.  But when the pleroma of the time was come, God sent forth his Son.” – Galatians 4:3

“To bring the pleroma of God’s word, a mysterious hidden secret from generations of aeonsnow made known to the saints”. – Colossians 1:25 b-26

“We preach that Jesus Christ is the revelation of a mystery, who was hidden in Sige since the times of the aeons.” – Romans 16:25

“We tell of Sophia, of those who are perfect, yet not the Sophia of this aeon, nor the archons of this aeon who amount to nothing.  We tell of the Sophia of God, in a mysterious apocryphonwhom God determined from before the aeonsfor our gloryand the archons of this aeon were ignorant of her.” – 1st Corinthians 2:6-8

“You walked in the way of the aeon of this cosmosin the way of the powerful archon of the air.” – Ephesians 2:2

Generations of aeons and aeons.” - Ephesians 3:21

“In him (Christ) is contained the pleroma of divinity in bodily form… who is over all archons and authorities… and having neutralized the archons and authorities, he exposed and defeated them.” – Colossians 2:9-10, 2:15

“The pleroma was happy to live within him, and to redeem everything to him.” – Colossians 1:19-20

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the archons (authorities), against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12

“…to his own master he doth stand or fall; and he shall be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14)

“…that you may stand perfect and made full in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4)

The last two quotes indicates that Paul was very much familiar with the adage “he who stands”, much like Simon, the Standing One. In his epistles he is constantly using the word ‘stand’ to refer to the possession of grace of faith.

In in Paul’s talk of the Cross, do we find a mystical or mysterious sensibility. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2 that he withheld the true interpretation of the crucifixion when he first preached to the Corinthian community because they weren’t yet receptive to the secret wisdom of the cross taught only to the perfected telestai or theletai of the mysteries (initiates). One can say Paul was an initiator of the Jesus Mysteries! Paul, here wasn’t talking about blood atonement. Paul’s Jesus wasn’t even a human being nor did he believe that Jesus ever came to earth. He says that God gave Christ the name Jesus AFTER he resurrected. How does that work if Paul’s Jesus was a first-century Galilean Jew?

That being said, in the Gospels, Jesus also exhibits some Gnostic traits. The Jesus of the gospels taught “secret meaning” (Thomas 1; Mark 4:11; Matthew 13:35), a secret, hidden Father (Matthew 6:6), and a kingdom which is “not of this world” (John 18:36).

“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory….

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh.”

Paul is very plainly saying that the crucifixion is spiritual, not literal, and the Corinthians were only given the exoteric interpretation because they weren’t yet properly initiated into the mysteries, like a true mystagoge of an esoteric mystery school, reserved for the few. Paul’s Christ was a being he encountered in visions. He wasn’t some dude walking and talking with people on earth as depicted in the much later Gospels. Paul probably only know of a perfect Savior and not any guy named Jesus Christ, a name which was added in his letters,well after Paul’s death.

There is a reason Paul never says anything substantial about Jesus’ ministry, because the gospel narrative was completely unessential to his interpretation of the crucifixion. Paul’s Jesus wasn’t a Jewish messiah who had come to liberate the Jewish state from Roman oppression. Paul’s Jesus didn’t preach any Sermon on the Mount. Paul’s Jesus wasn’t an expiatory sin offering to a vengeful god, either. He was a purely spiritual being who overthrew unseen forces (the archons) through a cosmic crucifixion. Paul even goes as far as to warn his followers against other Gospels, which were more than likely Judaizing Christian ones:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel.” (Galations. 1:6)

When Paul says he’s crucified with Christ, he doesn’t say it as allegory. He speaks it literally. When he says that Christ lives in him, he says it literally. When he writes to the Galatians that they first accepted him as Christ Jesus himself, he says it literally. For Paul, there is no distinction between the figurative and literal nature of the individual’s participation with Christ’s death on the cross.

The individual dies with Christ, in a spiritual sense and is reborn a new creature in Christ. Paul clearly taught that salvation was found only with a divine and Gnostic, experiential encounter with the Living Christ. This divine encounter or vision with Christ is also spoken repeatedly in the Gospel of John (Ex. 6:39-40). This divine encounter changes the inner man, who is thought of as “dead”, carnal, anti-Christ or unregenerate soul, into new life, with a new law written in the spiritual heart of man. Ezekiel 36 and even Jeremiah 31 in the Old Testament speaks about this internal rebirth. Thus the did the Gnostics refer to those who had not been awakened as “the dead” – for their soul dwells in Hades even as they go about their daily business as the puppets of their animal natures. They were seen as animal men, ignorant, blind, naked and dead. Paul shared the same belief. As did Jesus:

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)

The cross of Christ isn’t some historical cross trapped in 33 AD for Paul. It’s a cosmic cross that everyone can partake in.  Nobody saved anybody by getting nailed to a cross. Either the crucifixion means something deeper, or the Western world has been in denial for two thousand years. Paul’s encounter with the heavenly Christ is nothing short of a radical transformation, where Paul, in essence is possessed by Christ. Paul becomes enthusiastic in saying:

“For I did not receive it (the gospel) from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galations 1:12).

Perhaps the human Jesus was Paul, while the spiritual or docetic Christ was never intended to be human, or even incarnate on earth. That would explain all the odd conflation of Paul, Simon, and Jesus in the Church Fathers. And why Simon claimed to be the “Standing One” and a manifestation of the “great power of God,” while Paul claimed to be “crucified with Christ, and that Christ lived in him”. Paul pretty much makes the claim that he’s an avatar of Christ all throughout Galatians.

“I am crucified with Christ.” “When God was pleased to reveal his Son in me.” “I bear on my body the marks of Christ.” “Oh foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?”

It also accounts for Paul’s statement that Christ is only given the name Jesus after the resurrection. His original Christology was of a spiritual entity that never became incarnate in the material world, as people like Earl Doherty believe. Paul’s cross is obviously immaterial. It’s some sort of cosmic event that each individual may partake in spiritually. Also, it could further explain why Simon’s disciple Menander too claimed that he was the Standing One (one who has grace).
S_Statue-of-Saint-Paul-in-front-of-the-St.-Peters-Basilica-by-Giuseppe-De-Fabris-1840

St. Paul sculpted in the image of Moses, just without horns.

His message is true in that it came from nowhere else but from Christ. Does this automatically rule out a historical Jesus? There is a reference to such a person when in 1 Corinthians 11:23, Paul speaks of Jesus instituting the Eucharist and that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, much like in the Gospel of John and in Luke. As I have stated elsewhere in this blog, John may very well have been originally a Simonian or Gnostic gospel, so this would still fit my proposed scenario. The Gnostics were certainly the first ones to read from it and latch on to it as authoritative scripture. Yet even there, Paul claims to have received this teaching from Christ, not any one man. And again, it seems Paul is actually the human side of Christ. This would explain Paul’s complaint of certain people within the Corinthian church who “cursed Jesus”.

You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:2-3)

According to Origen (Contra Celsum VI, 28), the Gnostic-ish sect, the Ophites, would “admit no one to their fellowship who has not first cursed Jesus.” Could Paul be referring to these serpent-worshipers? One can only guess…However, neither Irenaeus nor Hippolytus mention this in their reports on the Ophites, so who knows for sure?

Now, let’s cross compare the above passage from 1 Corinthians with a text I’ve been working for some time, the Simonian Great Declaration, only preserved in Hippolytus’ Refutation of All Heresies:

This is the writing down of the declaration of voice and name from thought, which is the Great Power, the Boundless. Thus it shall be sealed up, hidden, concealed, placed in the dwelling which rests upon the Universal Root. To you, then, I say what I have to say, and I write what I to write. And this is the writing thereof.

———-

And when they appeared in the midst of the rushing water of the realm of becoming, the female Thought was set upon and defiled by the angels and lower powers who made this world of matter. And they used the fiery power within her to give life to their creations.

Clearly both Paul and Simon talk about “hidden” and “secret” things as well as hostile angelic powers who rule the world. It is these same angels that Paul claimed the Jews worshiped as God. It also seems as though the Pauline writer also employs a very similiar manner of writing when compared to the Great Declaration, which also seems like a weak imitation.

Could it be? Was Simon simply a placeholder for the old anti-Pauline literature from Peter’s school? Could the Latin Church Father Tertullian’s “apostle to the heretics” (Paul) and Irenaeus’ “father of all heresies”, being Simon were one and the same? Could this identity crisis between Paul and Simon explain the mystical and even Gnostic nature of Paul’s epistles? Could it all be just a big coincidence? If so, then why do the early second century Gnostic heretics identify themselves as followers of “Paul” while their proto-Orthodox Church critics identify them as followers of “Simon”?

Even if we are looking at two men and not one, if their histories are this intermixed, then why was there such a drastic movement by the Orthodox to separate the two? Let’s not forget that both arch-heretics, Marcion and Valentinus, were indirectly connected with Paul in some way, with mysterious teacher of Theodas who was said to be a pupil of Paul. According to Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 7.17, he records the Gnostic claim that Theudas received secret teachings from Paul or the “deeper mysteries” that Paul reserved from his public teaching and taught only to a few disciples in secret.

Likewise they allege that Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas. And he was the pupil of Paul. For Marcion, who arose in the same age with them, lived as an old man with the younger [heretics]. And after him Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter.

Such being the case, it is evident, from the high antiquity and perfect truth of the Church, that these later heresies, and those yet subsequent to them in time, were new inventions falsified [from the truth].

It’s interesting in how Clement of Alexandria places Simon after Valentinus and Marcion. What’s really going on here? One can only guess. Perhaps the Church Fathers really were smoking crack after all. Or it was just a scribal error. Robert M. Price writes in Introduction to Scroll of Thoth, p. xx:

In reality the formation of the many diverse types of early Christian faith was highly complex and confusing, and there was no place in the emerging sanitized version of church history for the earlier radical Paul.

To be given any place at all, Paul, “the heretics’ apostle”, had to be split into two literary figures: the Apostle Paul and Simon the Sorcerer. The point was to strip from Paul, whoever he may have been, the interpretations of Marcionites and Gnostics, and to consign these to a scapegoat double, the evil twin of Paul, Simon Magus.

Sounds a lot like Superman fighting the evil distortion of himself as Bizarro. Simon Peter fights the “anti-Simon,” Simon Magus, as well. So, is the matter settled? Stuff like this is never straight-forward or cut and dry. However, the similarities between the Paul of Acts and other assorted apocrypha and Josephus, the Paul of the Epistles and what is said by the Church Fathers about Paul, the parallels still exist with what is known about Simon the Magician by his enemies in the Christian Church.

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Jesus Paul/Simon Christ Superstar

As I have pointed out, Paul in Acts even takes on the magical persona of Simon and Jesus as well, lending itself to my argument laid out before. It’s as if the author(s) of these texts, tried their best to separate the unfavorable elements of Paul in the eyes of Simon-Peter’s camp into the magical figure of Simon and unwittingly contrasted interpretations of the same character. The other possibility is that an Orthodox scribe went very far to create wholly fabricated personas to “cover up” the truly Gnostic foundation of Christianity.

Not only do Paul and Simon share some very curious parallels but also with Jesus as well. They are far too many to list all, here, but it seems as though the codices found at Nag Hammadi preserve what is probably the earliest and primordial version of Jesus and his secret doctrine of the Bridal Chamber as well as the idea of “christening” or “anointing”.

Many mythicists’ central talking point is that the Jesus of the New Testament is a myth, pure and simple, based on previous, dying and rising savior gods (Tummaz, Osiris, Attis, Adonis, Dionysus etc.) which are themselves based on the cycles of vegetation as well as the zodiac, the planetary spheres in our solar system and star systems. There is much truth to this. Even the Clementine literature admits to this. While the similarities of this symbolism are obvious and undeniable, there is not a great deal of Christian doctrine that would identify it as having originated from a solar cult. However, the real question is did the characters Jesus is based on exist in reality? Yes. He is based on two men: John the Baptist and Simon Magus, a combination of both. The two becoming one. Jesus seems also to be very much a verbal composite taken directly from the Gospel of Thomas, and we will investigate this more in the next installment.

One major key to the mystery of who Jesus of Nazareth was lies in the figure of Mary Magdalene, the first witness to the resurrection, his close companion according in all accounts (much like Simon and Helena as well as Paul with Thecla), and the one who officiated at what would have been considered a royal anointing in Mark 14:3 with the pouring of a large amount of oil upon the head of Jesus. This ‘christening’ or ‘chrism’ corresponds to what should have been the ceremony initiating Jesus as the successor of John, the Baptist.

The Clementine Homilies/Recognitions also indicate that Simon Magus was a disciple of John the Baptist, much like Jesus in the Gospels, particularly in Matthew, Luke and John. The Clementine literature also indicate that Simon was studying in Egypt when John was beheaded, Simon came “out of Egypt” to become the figure head of John’s disciples, from Dositheos’ feigned leadership.

tissot-baptism-jesus476x738

What is intriguing about this is how well it lines up with the Jesus of the Gospels. He is esteemed so much by John that a dove lands on his head during baptism and the voice of God speaks from heaven. However, in John 1:29-33, it states that John bore witness to the spirit descending like a dove, into Jesus, indicating that the Holy Spirit, in fact, possessed him. The other Gospels were uncomfortable with the idea of spirit possession of Jesus.

Of course, the term “Christ” and even “Jesus” both mean the same thing, attached to the original meaning of being christened as the legitimate successor of the Baptist. The title of “Christ” most obviously comes from Simon being “christened” as the successor of John the Baptist. As much as the Orthodox reviled the Simonians and Simon Magus himself, the doctrines of the Roman Catholics such as the Pope as Vicar of Christ on earth successively throughout the ages are actually based on ancient Simonian beliefs and practices.

This was the biggest propaganda point of the earliest Christians to claim to be the successor of the immensely popular John. However, it also had the in-group meaning of referring to the great being channeled by Simon and Jesus called “the Son of Man”, a mysterious entity also mentioned by Jesus in Matthew in a true apocalyptic Rabbi fashion. (That’s already one too many Jesus’s). The “Son of Man” which is, literally, “Son of Adam” which would be Seth in the Samaritan religious mindset was the great disembodied psychopomp, like Hermes or Eros, who assisted the initiates in their pnuematic travel, stripping of layers of materiality, past the planetary spheres as the spirit ascends into the heavenly abode being the pleroma of light, outside of space and time as we know.

Interestingly enough, in the Gospel of the Egyptians, the text explicitly states that Seth, the Logos, shape-shifted to take on the form of Jesus!

…and established through her the holy baptism that surpasses the heaven, through the incorruptible, Logos-begotten one, even Jesus the living one, even he whom the great Seth has put on.

This sounds a lot like Simon who taught the Trinity doctrine, and claim to come in the form of all three of these hypostatizations of the divine, in the Great Declaration:

“I was manifested to the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father, and among the gentiles as the Holy Spirit, and I permitted them to call me by whatever name they pleased.”

In the Trimorphic Protennoia, Seth is identified with Christ, and in the Apocalypse of Adam, he is the third manifestation of the “Illuminator”. So in essence, the “Son of Man” is also identified with Jesus. These highly esoteric Sethian texts could very well be preserving the Samaritan tradition and important spiritual lineage that starts back all the way with Adam and Eve, continuing on with Seth, and many more in between and finally culminating with Simon-Jesus.

The “holy baptism” was an important sacramental symbol for the ancient Gnostics, especially the Mandaeans and the Samaritians. The reflecting waters of the baptismal pool symbolized the illusory surface-existence of life. Those who are baptized, penetrates the shimmering mask of matter and submerged into the hyper-reality of the Pleroma, a hidden, all-enveloping, ever-present and eternal paradise of which the cosmos is but a fragile, fleeting parody ruled over by foolish demons who think they are gods. The Gospel of Philip tells us:

And as soon as Christ went down into the water, he came out laughing at everything of this world, not because he considers it a trifle, but because he is full of contempt for it. He who wants to enter the Kingdom of Heaven will attain it. If he despises everything of this world and scorns it as a trifle, he will come out laughing.

The idea of ascending light-body is not unknown to the Greeks either. The Dionysiac Mystery ecstasy was centered on this idea. In ancient Greek culture, a god was thought to enter the human form in a garment of light that philosophers referred to as a “chiton”. During an oracle’s invocation, a god overtook the physical body, “inspired” it by entering the pneuma in order to use the body as a tool through which to speak. The pythia or priestess, herself was not conscious of the god’s presence, since her pnuema or spirit was possessed by a god, similiar to the idea of how Paul was possessed by the spirit of Christ. This notion of a god enveloped in a garment of light is also found in the Hermetic Poimandres, the Mithriac Liturgy, and the Corpus Hermeticum Libellus XIII, all of which employ very similiar language and concepts found in Jesus’ teaching to the Pharisee, Nicodemus in John 3: 3-7:

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered,“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

In the ancient Mystery schools, initiatory and theurgical practices often involved the initiate to undergo a rite of rebirth (renatio) which is made possible following a ritualized form of the second death. This death is a spiritual one, where the soul undergoes a kind of night descent and the nous (divine intellect or mind) is revealed in the resurrected (anastasis) spirit body into direct contact with the gods. If one ascends to the gods, one becomes deified or divinized.

In Plutarch’s Fragment 178 relays a similar experience in a mystery school rite of initiation and spiritual alchemy:

“Thus we say that the soul that has passed thither is dead (ololenai), having regard to its complete (eis to holon) change and conversion. In this world it is without knowledge, except when it is already at the point of death ; but when that time comes, it has an experience like that of men who are undergoing initiation into great mysteries; and so the verbs teleutdn (die) and teleisthai (be initiated), and the actions they denote, have a similarity.

In the beginning there is straying and wandering, the weariness of running this way and that, and nervous journeys through darkness that reach no goal, and then immediately before the consummation every possible terror, shivering and trembling and sweating and amazement. But after this a marvellous light meets the wanderer, and open country and meadow lands welcome him  and in that place there are voices and dancing and the solemn majesty of sacred music and holy visions. And amidst these, he walks at large in new freedom, now perfect and fully initiated, celebrating the sacred rites, a garland upon his head, and converses with pure and holy men; he surveys the uninitiated, unpurified mob here on earth, the mob of living men who, herded together in mirk and deep mire, trample one another down and in their fear of death cling to their ills, since they disbelieve in the blessings of the other world. For the soul’s entanglement with the body and confinement in it are against nature, as you may discern from this.”

Initiation rites were not unknown to the Gnostics. Theurgical texts like Allogenes, Trimorphic Protennoia and Marsanes speak to the divine vision and resurrection that would be experienced by the Gnostic initiate in methodical and great detail. The Gnostics looked to Paul’s claim that he experienced this resurrection in his lifetime, and that he had traveled to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2). In Revelations 19:8, it speaks of “white robes” being distributed by Christ to his “Bride”, so this also fits into this spiritual body theme.

The title “Son of God” is not a Jewish messianic one and occurs in the gospels in connection with Jesus’ miracles. This is because “son of God” implies a supernatural being in human form who performs miracles by his own divine power. It also denotes doceticism. 

The Mithras Liturgy depicts the adept being deified by the spirit, becoming the sun, and accomplishing the miracle of ascending into heaven. This parallels the career of Jesus. In the Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leiden, appears “I am the son of the living god”. PGM 4.142-221 concludes with union with the deity in form, a gift of power in the deity’s name, and the believer achieving a nature like the god.

Book of the Dead

Even the Pyramid Texts and the Book of the Dead present evidence that the ancient Egyptians believed that humans can become gods through theurgy. These gods were seen as possessing a form of magic, or original creative power that formed and co-created the cosmos. This idea carries on even into the Torah, in Genesis 1, where creation can be seen as a magical act, a miracle—as the word of God has the power of creation. The formation of Adam and Eve from dust and flesh by God was seen as similiar to golem-making in Jewish Kabbalistic rituals employed by Rabbi magicians as seen in the Babylonian Talmud. The PGM V. 106-110 even declares Moses himself as a magician and the author of several magical books and charms.

“I am Moses your prophet, to whom you committed your mysteries which are celebrated by Israel [sic]…Listen to me, I am the messenger of Phapro Osoronnophris. This is the authentic name which was committed to the prophets of Israel.”

The PGM, or the Greek Magical Papryi, shares a great deal of parallels with both ancient Egyptian texts and the Christian Gospels, as they both involve miracle and healing stories. They also include details on baptism, magical spells, being declared a god, experiencing mystical phenomena in the wilderness like a shaman, exorcisms and cures, calling disciples while traveling as a master or holy man, initiation to learn the master’s magical secrets and true meaning of the parables, the reception of supernatural visions or divine revelations, etc.

The Bridal Chamber ritual could also very well been a mystery initiation rite, explaining the reunification of the masculine and feminine sides of the soul depicted in the Adam and Eve division when the one soul incarnated in matter, requiring a bifurcated experience into two genders. This is discussed at length in the Gospel of Philip. The fragmented Dialogue of the Savior found in the Nag Hammadi library is a collection of some of these spirit travel experiences from those closest to the Savior that records encounters with the Son of Man and a series of spiritual initiations which match perfectly well with that of a pagan mystery school:

Whoever does not know the work of perfection, knows nothing. If one does not stand in the darkness, he will not be able to see the light. If one does not understand how fire came into existence, he will burn in it, because he does not know the root of it. If one does not first understand water, he knows nothing. For what use is there for him to be baptized in it?

The same text even employs some Simonian language, by saying those who stand (the Standing One) will “rest forever”:

“The Savior said to his disciples, “Already the time has come, brothers, for us to abandon our labor and stand at rest. For whoever stands at rest will rest forever.”

Nag Hammadi texts such as the Gospel of Philip and Dialogue of the Savior also record the idea that Jesus Christ was a magician as well as a mystery school initiate. In Philip, there are several separated references to dyes such as “the Son of Man has come as a dyer”. It refers to looking into dyed water until the eye tires and visual images come forth. Later, there are references to “the mirrored bridal chamber” and “none can see himself either in water or in a mirror without light. Nor again can you see in light without water or mirror”.

The last sentence of Philip a little defensively sums up the argument for their practices of scrying secretively in the dark (much like John Dee did in the 15th century) before a mirror to experience the higher self: “This is the way it is: it is revealed to him alone, not hidden in the darkness and the night, but hidden in a perfect day and a holy light.”

One description of this process is in the Magical Papyri from Egypt (1, 180-V:4-5, 44-46):

“Divination by means of a bowl and a lamp: the boy sits holding the bowl in his lap, scrying by the aid of lamplight reflected in the surface of the water. A spell pronounced over the boy induces a trance…”

The Gospel of Philip also records Jesus Christ performing initiation rites that sound much like that one of the Hermetic mystery schools of Egypt.

The Lord did everything in a mystery, a baptism and a chrism and a eucharist and a redemption and a bridal chamber. [...] he said, “I came to make the things below like the things above, and the things outside like those inside. I came to unite them in the place.”

Gee wiz, where else have we heard this before? Even the Eucharist itself has its origins in magical rites associated with Egypt and can be found in early Samaritan texts like Joseph and Asenath. As we will see in the next two parts, this is enlightened, Sage-like, perfected picture of Jesus, more than likely is the original version, which has its golden thread rooted in Greek and ancient Egyptian-Hermetic wisdom.

In Part 3, we will explore further connections with Simon Magus/Paul, Apollos and Apollonius with the great Greek pantheon of Olympian and demi-gods, more tantalizing details from the Greek Magical Papryi, and delve deep into the shimmering pools of the Hermetic and Neoplatonic mysteries. See you next time, truth seekers.

Way In Over My Head

Just a quick update as to what I’ve been doing lately. As many of my readers know, I am on my way to being a published author at Permuted Press. My first book Crimson Dusk (yes, I renamed the title) is due out June 2, 2015! Mark your calendars. Currently, I am looking for a Beta-reader for a novel I am writing at the moment. It currently clocks in at 78,700 plus words. Here is the blurb for the book:

DELTA HEAVY

The year is 2079 in New Chicago, Illinois. When Darren Ramirez, a former Marine receives a call from a representative working for a biotech firm along with interests of the U.S. Government, his life is changed forever as he and a special forces unit that are sent to a remote archipelago called Cirrus off the coast of Spain. They are sent for an investigation of a corporate-controlled installation after a cessation of communication. There, they make a startling discovery regarding its classified projects involved in reviving an ancient, lost civilization and earth’s secret history. It’s up to Ramirez and his squadron to find the truth behind the mysterious cluster of islands, the experiments and the man responsible for the projects’ existence. 

If any reader out there is interested in partaking in Aeon Eye history, then please, by all means contact me at: watcherflame@gmail.com. Besides that, I’ve been hella busy with work, internships, plus a full-time course load in my MA degree program. That being said, I am still looking to write a few more articles for this blog when I find the time. The months of July and August were especially intense for me so that is the primary reason why I haven’t been active with this blog (and it seems that span of time was also particularly intense and horrific for the outside world, as well). But I hope to change all that in the coming weeks and months.

Expect more interviews with some cool guests, guest blog articles, cutting edge articles, and maybe a short story or two posted on here. Also be sure to “like” my Facebook page, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Last but not least, I also have a Paetron campaign going on that I’ve neglected to advertise. Please, if you can spare a few dollars for my blogging, writing and scholarly pursuits, that please by all means do help me out, if you can. The money will go to this blog so it will become an proper, registered domain with WordPress. That means, no advertisements for my readers to deal with, plus much more. Just something to think about. And yes, I will love you forever.

keep-calm-and-chuck-deuces

Unconquerable: How the Early Roman Catholic Church Usurped the Cult of Apollo on Vatican Hill

Hey, folks. This is an article written by my friend, James at PandirasBox. He’s been teasing me about this article, written for my site for some time now, and this is chock full of fascinating details and dot-connecting you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. So without further ado, is his newest illuminating article on various topics such Apollo worship being tied with Orthodox Christianity, Enoch, the myth of the Watchers/fallen angels, Greek mythology, the pagan origins of the Eucharist, and much, much, more! Enjoy the read.

Open your wallets and free your mind.

“For what is now called the Christian religion existed of old and was never absent from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh. Then true religion which already existed began to be called Christian.”  – Augustine, Retractions 1:13. (15)

Quadriga

Popes as Priests of Apollo

Many readers of the Aeon Eye will be familiar with Gnosticism, Platonism, Kabbalah, and Christianity but I wonder how many of you are aware of sources such as the Liber Pontificalis (or Book of the Popes) and the Chronography of 354/ Liberian catalogue. These sources tie in great to points that Alex and I have spoken on and our theories as well as things he has written about here. Not only is Asclepius prevalent in the Acts of Pilate/Gospel of Nicodemus and the Gospel of John but he is significant to the Apollo cult. Catholics or ex-Catholics may be familiar with the first seventeen Popes from Peter to Callistus. These Popes are given death dates a.k.a birth dates, many of which align with Pagan holidays significant to Apollo or his kindred gods. Many are named after demigods or gods from the Apollo cult as well.

The first significant name is Linus. In Greek mythology, he is the musical son of Apollo and muse Calliope. He is also the inventor of melody and rhythm who taught Orpheus and Heracles music. He supposedly wrote the myth of Dionysus and other Pelasgic legends in the city of Thebes (Greece or Egypt? who knows…). In the end he was Killed by Heracles with his own lyre after accusing him of being in error. The Vatican was known as a Temple of Apollo according to the Liber Pontificalis. (1) A tomb was found in 1615 by Torrigio inscribed with the letters LINVS, being the last five letters of a longer name such as Marcellinus or Paulinus. Possibly Aquilinus.

It is possible Marcellinus was the first Pope, but it is even more probable that this was the tomb of Linus, of the Apollo cult, in a shrine sacred to Apollo. To top it all off, Pope Linus is said to have died either on September 23 or 24. In the Handbook to life in ancient Rome by Lesley and Roy Adkins on page 286 it states the following, “September 23: Festival of Apollo.” This was followed on September 26 by the “Festival of Venus Genetrix.” The name Linus means “flax”. (3) I’m not sure of the significance of this meaning yet but I believe every detail is significant.

Cletus/ Cleitus means “glory” or “one who is chosen/ called”. Anencletus and Anacletus are other names given to him meaning “to be recalled” etc. Gnostics were known for being cast out, repenting and being let back in to the church in Rome only to fall away again. Cleitus is a name popular among the Trojan’s, and a famous mythological son of Aegyptus and Tyria. Keep in mind that the Greeks thought Aegyptos was a king of Egypt and it was in fact, the city of Memphis known to Manetho as Hut-ka-Ptah (“Enclosure of the spirit/soul of Ptah”) which in Greek becomes Ai-gy-ptos. (16) Alexander aka Alaksandu to the Luwian’s and Trojan’s was the mythological Paris of Troy.

Both Cleitus and Alexander were early Popes. Anencletus is said to have died on July 13, the Games of Apollo. The next Pope is Telesphorus meaning “to be perfected”, a popular theme in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. A church intimately linked to Polycarp of Smyrna, the imitator of Jesus’s passion as found in the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Marcion reported Polycarp’s martyrdom and was recalled like Cleitus. While in a sense Jesus imitates Moses who imitates Zeus and Cronos. (At the moment I’m watching Blade Runner and had to comment that the maker gets his eyes gouged like the Mountain in Game of Thrones season 4, episode 8). Telesphorus died the day between the Janus and Crossroads festivals significant to shepherds and farming.

Hyginus is another Pope. He beat Valentinus for the bishopric supposedly. His name means “healthy”, and he is yet another Pope who was named for a quality he possessed. That quality was not being “diseased” as in being “heretical”. Most early Popes seem to be renamed upon coronation for something they did. Anicetus means unconquerable and may have been an Apollo worshiper judging by his epithet he shares with Helios and Apollo. Soter means Savior and is significant to Zeus. Pope Victor even died during the festival of Sol and Luna (sun and moon).

The first Antipope, Hippolytus is named after “the unleasher of horses” in Greek myth, hence his martyrdom was caused by horses tearing him limb from limb. Artemis had Asclepius resurrect him after Aphrodite had him murdered. I guess this is Hippolytus’ admirers trying to insinuate that he was resurrected as well. He was a demigod of Latium, an early Roman settlement of the Trojan Aeneas. Virgins were important in his cult as was marriage. On a humorous side-note, Pope Zephyrinus meant “west wind” likely as an insult meaning “Rome’s flatulence”. These are just some insights from the Books of Popes and the Chronography of 354 (dedicated oddly enough to Valentinus.) Another interesting note on Zephyrinus is that he was spoken of by Origen and Tertullian in veiled insults as is obvious if you read the False decretals. A little give away that the writings of Origen and Tertullian are false too. (17)

Enoch Lithograph

The Sons of Lamech, Zeus as a Jew

In a Genesis Apocryphon, Lamech is said to have had a son who did not resemble anyone in his or his wifes family. This is found in 1 Enoch:

“I have begotten a strange son,” said Lamech, “…his nature is different and he is not like us, and his eyes are as the rays of the sun, and his countenance is glorious. And it seems to be that he is not sprung from me but from the Angels…”

Angel means messenger so it seems these Watchers were merely a type of man like say a Homo-sapien rather than a Cro Magnon. They were fallen “messengers”. Their message: man can become a god by technology. The same message the Orthodox hate to this day. As Clement of Alexandria taught, “God became a man so that man might become a God”.

Lamech had three sons like Noah did. Each taught mankind the arts of metal, music, farming, etc. Apollo was one of them. Cain and Seth probably have the same genealogy in reality. These sons were the Grigori/ Watchers/ Nephilim. The result of the rape of the Sabine women by the Latins. These stories were duplicated when retold in different languages with different spins and perspectives on the issue as well as different names in each respective language or dialect.

Jupiter

In Jewish tradition, Lamech dethroned and killed his ancestor Cain just as Zeus did Cronos. Tubalcain is Hephaestus or Saturn. He is also Azazel in the book of 1Enoch. Here is an excerpt from David Rohl’s book Legend: the Genesis of Civilization, from the section titled “Enoch the Builder King”:

“The biblical name Irad (son of Enoch) is believed to derive from the Hebrew verb yarad which has the meaning ‘to descend’. The Mesopotamian tradition (through the SKL and the Creation Epic) is that the first city to be founded in Sumer was Eridu (modern Tell Abu Shahrain, once by the shores of the Persian Gulf). It was first suggested by Archibald Saycein 1885 that the city of Eridu bears the eponym of Irad- in other words that he was the eponymous founder of the city. This suggestion still finds support in more recent scholarly discussions of Genesis.

I have suggested that Adam’s (Sumerian) successors moved down- ‘descended’ from the Zagros mountains into the plain of Susiana. Is it possible therefore, that it was Irad, ‘the one who descended’, who led his people down into the pre-flood Sumer and that the first city, Eridu, was named after him? There is an important clue regarding the settlement of the lowlands in Genesis 4:17.

‘Cain had intercourse with his wife and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He was a city builder and gave the city the name of his son, Enoch.’

At first this statement seems quite straightforward: Cain founded a city and named it Enoch. But we have come to realize that translations of the Bible can be misleading. We need o go back to the original Hebrew to recognize that there is some confusion about who founded what here. As Robert Wilson has pointed out, the subject of the phrase ‘He was a city builder’ is by no means clear.

‘Normally one would expect the subject to be the most recently mentioned noun or pronoun, in this case the name Enoch. If this interpretation is accepted, then Enoch rather than Cain would be the city builder.’

The natural conclusion to draw from this reading of Genesis 4:17 is that the city built by Enoch was named after his son, Irad, and that this city was the first Sumerian city- Eridu- as originally proposed by Sayce. Indeed, the identification of the city builder as Enoch and not Cain had been suggested as long ago as 1883 by the German scholar, Karl Budde. But, of course, this reading of the passage is ‘undermined by the addition of the name Enoch at the end of the verse’. However, Wilson tellingly points out that the standard interpretation of Cain as the builder and his son Enoch as the eponym of the cit raises some serious difficulties.

(a) The clause wayhi boneh ir (‘he was a city builder’), if it follows the normal rules of syntax displayed in the rest of the Genesis 4 genealogy, must refer to Enoch and not Cain because the name Enoch immediately precedes the clause in question. Thus we have ‘…she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He was a city builder…’- the sense here is obvious.

(b) Moreover, in Genesis 4:2, Cain is described as a tiller of the earth (Heb. obed adamah) – in other words a farmer. It would not follow the pattern of Genesis 4 to then assign him a second occupation as a city builder. This would also deprive Enoch of a proper role in the genealogy.

(c) There is no known ancient city which carries the eponym of Enoch, son of Cain- according to Wilson (but see below).

Wilson concludes that ‘It is therefore possible that the name Enoch at the end of 4:17 is a gloss’- that is to say an editorial addition or even a marginal note which was then, only later, placed into the main body of the text in the wrong place once the true meaning of the statement had been lost. Thus the original text would have been unambiguous.

‘Cain had intercourse with his wife and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He (Enoch was a city builder and gave the city the name of his son (Irad).’

This is all good knock-about stuff which makes a lot of sense and is supported by a number of experts including William Hallo and Donald Wiseman. However, Wilson has to admit that we are dealing with linguistic conjecture here. An alternative view might be that the names of the antediluvian patriarhs have been ‘invented’ from ancient Sumerian documents mentioning the first cities on earth. Thus Irad is created from the early city-name Uru-du(g) where Eri and Uru are variant dialect spellings of the word for ‘city’.

… So far I have not given you the name of Uruk as it appears in the Sumerian language. There you will find it written Unuk or Unug- perhaps the original Sumerian name of Enoch! This may explain the biblical scribe’s confusion. He added the name Enoch at the end of the city-building statement in Genesis because he knew that the mightiest city of Sumer was named after this great antediluvian patriarch. On the other hand, perhaps the marginal note ‘Enoch’ (proposed above) was the result of a scribe adding the name of the city which he thought was being referred to (i.e. Unuk) as a clarification. He may not have understood that Enoch had alos built Eridu, naming it after his son Irad.

We could even suggest further biblical links to the eponymous founders of the Sumerian cities. The city of Ur, excavated by Leonard Woolley, is transcribed logographically as uru. Unuki in Sumerian. The name became shortened or hypocorised to Urum in Akkadian and then simply Uru/ Ur in Semitic/ Hebrew. Ur means ‘city’ but the original Uru-Unuki might be understood as ‘City of Unuki’- in other words ‘City of Enoch’.

What is more, another patriarch may be identified with a Sumerian antediluvian city- Badtibira- which was the second political center (after Eridu) to which ‘kingship was handed down from heaven’.

Bad-tibira means ‘Settlement of the Metal Worker’. If we take the Hebrew consonants which make up the name Tubal we get t-b-l. We know that the soft consonant ‘I’ is often representative of ‘r’, thus we might get an original T-b-r which could, in turn, stem from the ancient Tibira. Interestingly enough the Semitic epithet ‘Cain’ in Tubal-Cain also means ‘smith’ which suggests that this epithet has been added as a clarification of a little-known Sumerian word by the Hebrew author of Genesis. So there are clues which suggest that Tubal-Cain and Badtibira are connected in some way. Perhaps we have here an original eponym ‘Settlement of Tubal’ or, in translation, ‘City of the Smith’.” (6) (pgs. 184-188)

Yet, Tubal-Cain the patriarch may actually be one of Noah’s sons, Noah being Lamech. With the story of Noah’s Dionysian drunkery being added later. If Cain is the metal worker and Tubal-Cain is a metal worker by extension then it is possible that Semjaza is Cain and that’s why Jesus is made to be recast by the Orthodox as saying that Jews are offspring of Satan aka Cain rather than the Demiurge.

Tubal

Herman Saini, in his book Satan Vs. God: A Brief History makes the argument that Hephaestus/ Saturn’s story is based on the story of Lamech’s son Tubal-Cain, offspring of Cain. He says:

“Hephaestus is called ‘the god of fire’; ‘god of metalworking’; the son of Zeus and Hera. Thus Hephaestus is the son of Zeus. However, he was not the son of Hera, but Demeter who was identified with Zillah. This is an attempt to corrupt the truth. Many myths compare Hephaestus to his sister Athena who was said to be of ‘sublime character’. Hephaestus in comparison was not of sublime character, thus implying that he was sexually immoral. Athena was considered to be the virgin goddess. Hephaestus and Athena are both mentioned as having taught men many luxurious arts. This means that they were inventors of luxuries such as jewelry, ornaments, textiles, clothing, beautiful metal fixtures for houses and palaces.

Myths also mention that with Athena Hephaestus taught men many crafts throughout the world. As a result men who before used to live in caves now live peacefully in their own homes throughout the year. These people were now employed by him in his works manufacturing household utensils, agricultural implements, weapons and many other useful products. This shows that Hephaestus with his father, brothers and sisters started the industrial revolution in the pre-Flood world, and employed people in their arts, crafts, construction and weapons industries.

The Roman Venus, who is the Greek Aphrodite was Hephaestus’ wife. All the myths mention her as unfaithful to Hephaestus. He was equally sexually immoral. Hephaestus was the god of fire, metalworking, building, and fine arts. He was the god of fire in the sense that he worked with fire to forge weapons, implements, utensils, jewelry and other arts and crafts out of metals. He was later identified with the Italian volcano god Adranus-Volcanus, hence as the god of volcanoes. The description of Hephaestus’ or Vulcan in the myths perfectly matches the Bible description of Tubalcain in Genesis 4:22 ‘…Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron’. Hence Tubalcain is the Greek Hephaestus, or the Roman Vulcan.” (pg.248)

Attias_The_Untamed

Semjaza is thus Cain the metal worker and Azazel is actually Tubal-Cain. Hephaestus is further discussed by Manetho according to Eusebius:

“The first man (or god) in Egypt is Hephaestus, who is also renowned among the Egyptians as the discoverer of fire. His son, Helios (the Sun), was succeeded by Sôsis; then follow, in turn, Cronos, Osiris, Typhon, brother of Osiris, and lastly Horus, son of Osiris and Isis. These were the first to hold sway in Egypt. Thereafter, the kingship passed from one to another in unbroken succession down to Bydis through 13,900 years. The year I take, however, to be a lunar one, consisting, that is, of 30 days: what we now call a month the Egyptians used formerly to style a year.” (14)

“And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all coloring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.” (pg.35 The Book of Enoch R.H. Charles translation).

Beccafumi_-_Fall_of_the_Rebel_Angels_-_Web_Gallery_of_Art

Apocalyptic Paranoia is Orthodox

The Orthodox fear of technological advancement cries out like Abel’s blood from the soil in this paragraph. This is the age old tension between Catholic Orthodox Apocalypse and technological advancement. The Gnostic revels in sci-fi while the Orthodox dogs shun it and cringe at the very mention of it. This is why they cannot accept the possibility of men becoming like gods. The Gnostic wants to transcend this hell hole by perfecting it and the Orthodox wants to stuff the Gnostic’s head into the water and drown him in the mundane limitations placed on him by a tyrannical dead man who called himself God and hold invisible hands in another dimension after death and sing kumbaya.

Not only are these characters likely created based on ancient city names but possibly are based on the chief deities of their cities, their archons or rulers in other words. The same can be said for early Popes being named after their attributes, it could just be what they were renamed. If Tubal-Cain is the son of Lamech and Hephaestus is Tubal-Cain then Apollo is his brother and Lamech is Zeus. Asclepius is a son of Apollo and taught the healing arts and had a daughter named Hygiea. Pope Hyginus being named after her or with her attributes in mind. Epidaurus was the cult center of Asclepius where the healing arts were taught. Galen and Hippocrates, as well as the Pneumatics and Methodics were doctors and medical schools in the traditions of Asclepius, the first physician. A practice considered by Jews as ‘magic’ just as the silver screen of Hollywood still called movie-magic today was once thought by Evangelicals to be a tool of the devil.

As Will Durant says in The Story of Civilization III: Caesar and Christ:

 “All sects assumed the possibility of magic. The Magi had disseminated their art through the East and had given a new name to old jugglery. The Mediterranean world was rich in magicians, miracle workers, oracles, astrologers, ascetic saints, and scientific interpreters of dreams. Every unusual occurrence was widely hailed as a divine portent of future events. Askesis, which the Greeks had used to denote the athletic training of the body, came now to mean the spiritual taming of the flesh; men scourged themselves, mutilated themselves, starved themselves, or bound themselves to one place with chains; some of them died through self-torture or self-denial.

In the Egyptian desert near Lake Mareotis a group of Jews and non-Jews, male and female, lived in solitary cells, avoided sexual relations, met on the Sabbath for common prayer, and called themselves Therapeutae, healers of the soul. Millions believed that the writings ascribed to Orpheus, Hermes, Pythagoras, the sibyls, etc., had been dictated or inspired by a god. Preachers claiming divine inspiration traveled from city to city, performing apparently miraculous cures. Alexander of Abonoteichus trained a serpent to hide its head under his arm and allow a half-human mask to be affixed to its tail; he announced that the serpent was the god Aesclepius come to earth as an oracle; and he amassed a fortune by interpretting the sounds made by the reeds inserted in the false head.”  (pg. 525-526)

Of course the Therapeutae were not Jews but Asclepius’ followers. Worship means to imitate. Also these people scourging themselves weren’t Pagans but Christians. The Orthodox believes the soul is flesh so any assault on the flesh is an assault on the soul much like damnatio memoriae posits. Chapter 9 in the Gospel of John is directly related to the God Aesculapius/Asclepius, who is directly mentioned by Pilate in the Acts of Pilate. On another interesting side note, there was a famous Calabrian scholar of Greek studies in Western Europe who died in 1366AD named Leontius Pilatus. He translated Euripides, Aristotle, and Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey into Latin and was the first professor of Greek in the west. Interestingly as well, Petrarch hated him for pretending to be Greek rather than an Italian.

St John the Apostle

The name Pilate was not uncommon by the 14th century, and it was a Greek name! The Gospel authors clearly thought it was a Roman name though. Hegesippus was still being read into the 11th century at Corbie Abbey, yet it supposedly went missing before Jerome’s time and was supposedly never seen again. Anyway, in the Gospel of John chapter 9, we’re introduced to the Pool of Bethesda near the Sheep Gate (keep in mind the sheep is sacred to Apollo and Asclepius, while the scapegoat ritual was original to the Osiris cult). Bethesda in Hebrew is said beth hesda meaning “house of mercy/ grace”. Yet it can mean shame or disgrace. Isn’t Hebrew a silly language? Everything can mean it’s opposite. Grace in healing but disgrace due to the presence of invalids. (See: Easton’s Bible dictionary and the Catholic Encyclopedia).

“Prior to archaeological digs, the Pool of Bethesda was identified with the modern so-called Fountain of the Virgin, in the Kidron Valley, not far from the Pool of Siloam, and alternately with the Birket Israel, a pool near the mouth of the valley which runs into the Kidron south of St. Stephen’s Gate. Others identified it with the twin pools then called the Souterrains (French for “Subterranean”), under the Convent of the Sisters of Zion; subsequent archaeological investigation of the area has determined these to actually be the Strouthion Pool. In digs conducted in the 19th century, Schick discovered a large tank situated about 100 feet north-west of St. Anne’s Church, which he contended was the Pool of Bethesda. Further archaeological excavation in the area, in 1964, discovered the remains of the Byzantine and Crusader churches, Hadrian’s Temple of Asclepius and Serapis, the small healing pools of the Asclepieion, the other of the two large pools, and the dam between them. It was discovered that the Byzantine construction was built in the very heart of Hadrian’s construction, and contained the healing pools.”

“The Johannine narrative (chapter 5) describes the porticos as being a place in which large numbers of infirm people were waiting, which corresponds well with the site’s 1st century AD use as an asclepieion. Some ancient biblical manuscripts argue that these people were waiting for the troubling of the water; a few such manuscripts also move the setting away from Roman rituals into something more appropriate to Judaism, by adding that an angel would occasionally stir the waters, which would then cure the first person to enter. Although the Vulgate does not include the troubling of the water or the ‘angel tradition’, these were present in many of the manuscripts used by early English translations of the Bible, who therefore included it in their translations. Modern textual scholarship views these extra details as unreliable and unlikely to have been part of the original text; many modern translations do not include the troubling of the water or the ‘angel tradition’, but leave the earlier numbering system, so that they skip from verse 3a straight to verse 5.

The biblical narrative continues by describing a Shabbat visit to the site by Jesus, during which he heals a man who has been bedridden for many years, and could not make his own way into the pool. Some scholars have suggested that the narrative is actually part of a deliberate polemic against the Asclepius cult, an antagonism possibly partly brought on by the fact that Asclepius was worshipped as Saviour (Greek: Soter), in reference to his healing attributes. The narrative uses the Greek phrase hygies genesthai, which is not used anywhere in the Synoptic Gospels, but appears frequently in ancient testimonies to the healing powers of Asclepius; the later narrative in the Gospel of John about Jesus washing Simon Peter’s feet at the Last Supper, similarly uses the Greek term, which is a special term for washing in an Asclepieion, rather than the Greek word used elsewhere in the Johannine text to describe washing – ”

Hippolytus Statue

(To quote Hippolytus, “there is nothing more frightening than a Gay Gnostic”, or was it, “all those Gay Gnostics make me tired”, I can’t quite recall which one he said. Or was it Clement of Alexandria who said that? Listen to me rambling.)

“Within the palace of Nero is the temple of Apollo, which is called St. Petronilla, in front of which is the basilica which is called Vatican…And there is another temple which was Nero’s wardrobe, which is now called St. Andrew. Next to it is the memorial of Caesar, that is the agulia, where his ashes rest honorably; and just as while he was alive the whole world was subjected to him, so now that he is dead it will lie beneath him til the end of time…The upper part at the apple, where he lies, is decorated with gold and precious stones. There it is written: “Caesar, you were once as great as the world/ But now you are closed inside a little space.” (18) (pg.34 from the Mirabilia urbis Romae of an unknown author of the 12th century).

The Omphalos associated with Apollo may have been akin to the giant acorn in St. Peter’s old basilica as portrayed in the Netflix show Borgia. Corinth and Pergamon (the seat of Satan in Revelation) were major cult sites to Apollo. In the Anatolian/Trojan culture Apollo is a bringer of light but also a punisher who sends plagues and has the power to heal their victims. In the book of 1 Samuel it says:

“The Philistines asked, ‘What guilt offering should we send to him?’ They replied, ‘Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers.”

So here we see Apollo working his plagues as YHWH. Sinope is said to be a daughter of Apollo. Marcion’s home town is named after her. She pledged to always remain a virgin just to spite Zeus presumably. This is why Marcion actually corrupted a virgin meaning his home town. Before him, the churches already had heretics, he was not the first, nor was he an early one as modern scholars like to claim.

An intriguing source on Greek myth is Palaephatus, a man who was skeptical of tall tales and gave his theory on what really happened and became the basis for the myth. Lucian and the Vatican mythographer, and Homer are key for stories of Apollo while Hesiod is not. Ovid’s Remedia Amoris criticizes suicide as a means to escape love, tells lovers not to procrastinate and be lazy in love, not to avoid their partners, not perform magic, not see their lovers unprepared, not take other lovers, and never be jealous. All of Ovid’s advice is put into the mouth of Apollo. No wonder Christians hated Gnostics, they were big time players and pimp daddies. He even adds that one should burn old letters and avoid their lover’s family.

In Homer’s Illiad book 1 it is said, “Apollo has plagued us because I would not take a ransom”, and also, “At last a seer in the fulness of his knowledge declared to us the oracles of Apollo”. It is the Lycian King Apollo who looks down on Troy from Pergamus. (Book 7).

A Eucharistic Solar Symbol.

 

Crucifixion - Sun/Moon

I offer these last three quotes simply as food for thought and welcome you back next time for Part 2, where I will go into more details on the Christian assimilation of Pagan thought as well as the Epicurean origin of the Eucharist.

Clement of Alexandria in the Stromata book 1 says,

“Of those, too, who at one time lived as men among the Egyptians, but were constituted gods by human opinion, were Hermes the Theban, and Asclepius of Memphis; Tireseus and Manto, again, at Thebes, as Euripides says. Helenus, too, and Laocoon, and OEnone, and Crenus in Ilium. For Crenus, one of the Heraclidae, is said to have been a noted prophet. Another was Jamus in Elis, from whom came the Jamidae; and Polyidus at Argos and Megara, who is mentioned by the tragedy. Why enumerate Telemus, who, being a prophet of the Cyclops, predicted to Polyphemus the events of Ulysses’ wandering; or Onomacritus at Athens; or Amphiaraus, who campaigned with the seven at Thebes, and is reported to be a generation older than the capture of Troy; or Theoclymenus in Cephalonia, or Telmisus in Caria, or Galeus in Sicily?

There are others, too, besides these: Idmon, who was with the Argonauts, Phemonoe of Delphi, Mopsus the son of Apollo and Manto in Pamphylia, and Amphilochus the son of Amphiaraus in Cilicia, Alcmaeon among the Acarnanians, Anias in Delos, Aristander of Telmessus, who was along with Alexander. Philochorus also relates in the first book of the work, On Divination, that Orpheus was a seer. And Theopompus, and Ephorus, and Timaeus, write of a seer called Orthagoras; as the Samian Pythocles in the fourth book of The Italics writes of Caius Julius Nepos.” (13)

Origen in his Contra Celsus 7.3 says:

“It is said of the Pythian priestess, whose oracle seems to have been the most celebrated, that when she sat down at the mouth of the Castalian cave, the prophetic Spirit of Apollo entered her private parts; and when she was filled with it, she gave utterance to responses which are regarded with awe as divine truths. Judge by this whether that spirit does not show its profane and impure nature, by choosing to enter the soul of the prophetess not through the more becoming medium of the bodily pores which are both open and invisible, but by means of what no modest man would ever see or speak of.”

Hippolytus in his Philosophumena 5.0 says:

“What is the doctrine of the Sethians, and that, purloining their theories from the wise men among the Greeks, they have patched together their own system out of shreds of opinion taken from Musaeus, and Linus, and Orpheus.”

Sources:

  1. Liber Pontificalis. http://archive.org/stream/bookofpopesliber00loom/bookofpopesliber00loom_djvu.txt
  2. Chronography of 354: Liberian catalogue of Popes. http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/chronography_of_354_13_bishops_of_rome.htmHandbook of Life in Ancient Rome. Adkins.
  3.  Apostolic Fathers volume 1. Martyrdom of Polycarp. Ehrman.
  4. Genesis Apocryphon.
  5.  Legend: the Genesis of Civilization. Rohl.
  6.  The Story of Civilization III: Caesar and Christ. Durant.
  7. Satan Vs. God: a brief History. Saini.
  8. Easton’s Bible Dictionary.
  9.  Gospel of John, Chapter 9.
  10. Acts of Pilate, Latin edition.
  11. St. Peter’s in the Vatican. Tronzo.
  12. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata book 1.
  13. “Book 1- Fr. 1 (from the Armenian Version of Eusebius, Chronica). Dynasties of Gods, Demigods, and Spirits of the Dead.” http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Manetho/History_of_Egypt/1*.html
  14. Retractions, Augustine of Hippo.
  15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_egypt
  16. False decretals, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf08.viii.iii.i.html
  17.  Mirabilia urbis Romae

Interview: Jeffrey Kupperman and Living Theurgy

Hey, folks. It’s been a while since my last interview so I decided to go with a friend of mine who operates the seminal academic-oriented, the Journal for the Western Mystery Tradition, Jeffrey Kupperman! His book Living Theurgy has been published very recently and since he’s been very generous in allowing me to have a couple of my articles to be published on his site, such as Eros, Orpheus and On the Origin of the World and The Gnostic Stranger in Upanishadic Thought, I thought I’d return the favor. So without further ado, I will let Jeffrey to express himself through his own Logos.

Living Theury

1. What is your book Living Theurgy about?

Well, it’s about theurgy, but that’s probably obvious. My goal with Living Theurgy was to systematize the Neoplatonic thought off Iamblichus of Chalcis, an important 4th century Neoplatonist, including his often ignored philosophy, his theology, and his theurgy.

2. Why is Iamblichus important in the history of western philosophy and thought?

Largely, Iamblichus has been ignored, at least until recently. This was largely due to the erroneous view that he wasn’t really a philosopher, but just an irrational occultist, an aberration in the history of Platonism, rather than a defining practitioner, which he actually was. And that’s why he’s important. His contributions have been enormous. He wrote nine or ten volumes on Pythagoreanism, commentaries on Plato and Aristotle, treatises on the gods and the soul, De Mysteriis, possibly the most important primary source on theurgy, and at least 23 volumes of Chaldeanized Platonism. That the vast majority of these texts are now lost doesn’t detract from their importance. These works have influenced Proclus (who influenced Thomas Aquinas amongst others), pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and Marsilio Ficino. They, in turn, have influenced countless others, as well as entire movements, including many elements of esoteric Christianity, a great deal of kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, and more.

Iamblichus Chalcidensis

3. How does Iamblichus and his brand of Neoplatonism coincide with Gnosticism or Gnostic theology?

There are some similarities, of course, but those seem to be largely due to the influence of Platonism on both. Unlike Plotinus and Porphyry, there doesn’t seem to be evidence suggesting Iamblichus was in direct, or even indirect, contact with the Gnostics. So, we’ll see similarities in cosmology, but fairly different views on things like the Demiurge, the nature of the realm of generation, and the like.

4. Are there any daily, practical applications that can be gleaned from Iamblichus?

Not directly, not enough of his material was left behind for that. Indirectly, though, yes. In De Mysteriis, for example, he talks about cultus or worship, in a theurgic context. There are ideas there that can be directly applied to our own practices. More than that, though, Neoplatonism is a way of viewing the world. It includes classical Platonism, and so dialectic and all it entails, so it always applicable in some way to the generative world. But Neoplatonism, and Platonism in general, isn’t just about getting along in the realm of generation. It allows us to see this world differently, yes, but it does so in light of higher realms, the places, for lack of a better term, to which our souls truly belong.

5. How are the Demiurge, the Archons and/or the Daimones depicted in Iamblichean and Neoplatonic thought?

If you’re familiar with Gnosticism, quite differently from that. In later Neoplatonism, starting with Iamblichus, the Demiurge follows the model of the Timaeus, it is an all good, perfect, deity who wants nothing but good, and the Good, for everything. Its ordering of the gods, and the universe, is to for the purpose of bringing this about. Iamblichus’ use of the term archon seems to indicate different kinds, or genre, of gods, who are in charge of different levels of reality, functioning above the visible realm and within it. Once again, these gods are considered, as are all gods for that matter, all good and incapable of producing something that isn’t good.

Daimones take on a number of different roles, even though they are all of the same genre. Iamblichus talks about three kinds of daimon, the personal daimon, upon which the Holy Guardian Angel is modeled in Abramelin, “evil” or punishing daimones and guardian daimones, the latter of which are often associated with a particular place, and simple daimones who appear very much like the more modern ideas of elementals.

Plotinus

6. We know that Plotinus, for example, attempted to model a society from Plato’s Utopian ideal of the Philosopher King ruled Republic. Yet, one wonders how Neoplatonic philosophy and theurgy differ from the original Platonic school of thought. Any comments?

It is hard to say. I very much doubt they are identical. That said, there is enough suggesting Plato’s connection to Pythagoreanism, and some level of esotericism, that they may not be completely different. That’s not to say Plato or Socrates were theurgists. It doesn’t seem like theurgy was really brought into Neoplatonism until Iamblichus. But some, such as the late Neoplatonic scholar Algis Uždavinys, have strongly suggested an initiatory and esoteric element to classical Platonic thought that is not at all out of line with Neoplatonic thought. I’ve no idea if these ideas were carried out in similar ways. That said, I’m not sure it matters. Things change. After some 700ish years of Platonism, between Plato and Plotinus, and the generation in between Plotinus and Iamblichus, I’d expect things to change. I don’t see what Iamblichus has done being necessarily, or even greatly, out of line with the Platonic thought, generally speaking, that came before him, even if what he did and thought was different, which it invariably was.

7. Does alchemy figure in with Iamblichus and Neoplatonism?

Not directly, at least depending on how you’re defining alchemy. If we’re talking laboratory alchemy, there seems to be no direct connection at all, at least not with Iamblichus. If we’re talking about spiritual alchemy, sensu Paracelsus, then possibly. Somewhere I’ve a paper floating around, hoping to see the light of day, connecting Marsilio Ficino, and especially his masterpiece De vita libri tres, which is on theurgic astrological medicine and talismancy, and alchemy. Ficino himself was linked to alchemy by later alchemists, though I don’t know of any direct evidence showing he actually practiced it. There are ideologies, especially in the Neoplatonic idea of sunthemata or divine tokens found in material things, which are certainly applicable to alchemical thought.

Tau

False Gods, Divine Charlatans and Those Pesky Gnostics

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not  believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and  wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look,  He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it” (Matthew 24:23-26).

Wonder-workers, charlatan magicians, miracle-mongers, impious impostors pretending to be gods and Messiahs were a dime a dozen. Simon Magus, Apollonius of Tyana, Paul and Barnabas (Acts xiv, 11-12 – as Hermes and Zeus), Alexander of Abonoteichus, Apuleius, Mani, Porphyry, Iamblichus were all considered and often hailed as genuine gods incarnate- not to mention Jesus Christ. And yet, they all had very important insights and knowledge worth considering. Here’s just a few of them and their testimonies.

Imitating Spirits and False Prophets

The Catholic Church Fathers were very quick to dismiss many of these people (as listed above) as fakes, quacks and charlatans (although not all, of course). The semi-heretic and first Catholic theologian, Justin Martyr, for example, in the First Apology, Chapter 22, concedes and acknowledges that the snake god of healing, Aesculapius, very much fit the pattern of Jesus as a healer:

And if we even affirm that He (Jesus) was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you accept of Perseus. And in that we say that He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, we seem to say what is very similar to the deeds said to have been done by Æsculapius.

Later on in the same book, in Chapter 25, Justin Martyr claimed that through Jesus Christ, the Christianized former pagan has learned to despise the former gods as impostors while in essence mocking Jesus’ ability to heal the sick:

And, secondly, because we— who, out of every race of men, used to worship Bacchus the son of Semele, and Apollo the son of Latona (who in their loves with men did such things as it is shameful even to mention), and Proserpine and Venus (who were maddened with love of Adonis, and whose mysteries also you celebrate), or Æsculapius, or some one or other of those who are called gods— have now, through Jesus Christ, learned to despise these, though we be threatened with death for it, and have dedicated ourselves to the unbegotten and impossible God…

In 2 Apology, Chapter 5, Justin Martyr takes it a step further by claiming the Greek poets and “mythologists” were inspired by the fallen angels and demons. It is obvious that Justin Martyr is very much inspired by the Book of Enoch and the Book of Watchers (and somewhat from Jewish pseudepigrapha Testament of the 12 Patriarchs), all of which belong to a family of Jewish Apocalyptic apocrypha- which in themselves were more than likely inspired by Greek myths of the Titans and the Olympians (or the Titanomachy) to its Jewish authors as well as the sexual liaisons between the gods and mortals. They could also be partly inspired by the unsavory early Roman episode involving the Rape or Abduction of Sabine Women as well.

Whence also the poets and mythologists, not knowing that it was the angels and those demons who had been begotten by them that did these things to men, and women, and cities, and nations, which they related, ascribed them to god himself, and to those who were accounted to be his very offspring, and to the offspring of those who were called his brothers, Neptune and Pluto, and to the children again of these their offspring. For whatever name each of the angels had given to himself and his children, by that name they called them.

In the same chapter,  Justin Martyr, calls the children of the angels, “demons”:

 But the angels transgressed this appointment. and were captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called demons.

This very much recalls the Greco-Roman concept of the daimon, which is different than the Christianized or “demonized” version. These spirit beings are often depicted as intermediaries between the divine as gods (Plato’s Symposium) and other times as wardens of lowly humans in the cycles of reincarnation on earth (Corpus Hermeticum). Naturally, this corresponds to the story of the Book of Watchers, where (as indicated in the same chapter) that the Watchers enslaved mankind by “magical writings”, fears of punishments and teaching man to offer sacrifices, incense and libations through lustful passions to demonic spirits.

So, here we have the first Church theologian appealing to apocrypha and not the “Word of God” or the accepted “Canon”! The Book of Enoch also claimed that the Watchers taught mankind all sorts of magical arts, incantations and weaponry.  The Watchers, according to Justin, were trying to get mankind to worship their demonic progeny (i.e. the Nephilim). In other words, the pagan mysteries were all inspired by the Fallen Ones. Not only were the pagans inspired by demonic activity but evidently, so were the heretics such as Marcion (First Apology, Chapter 26):

And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive, and teaching his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator. And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies, and to deny that God is the maker of this universe, and to assert that some other being, greater than He, has done greater works.

Much later, Irenaeus, being largely dependent on Justin’s account, would claim that the Gnostic heretics like Simon Magus and Carpocrates were skilled magicians and charlatans who were adept to summoning demons (Against Heresies 1.23):

Thus, then, the mystic priests belonging to this sect both lead profligate lives and practise magical arts, each one to the extent of his ability. They use exorcisms and incantations. Love-potions, too, and charms, as well as those beings who are called Paredri (familiars) and Oniropompi (dream-senders), and whatever other curious arts can be had recourse to, are eagerly pressed into their service.

And the cult of Carpocrates (ibid. 1.25.3):

They practise also magical arts and incantations; philters, also, and love-potions; and have recourse to familiar spirits, dream-sending demons, and other abominations, declaring that they possess power to rule over, even now, the princes and formers of this world; and not only them, but also all things that are in it.

Notice how Irenaeus’ description of both the Simonians and Carpocrateans are virtually identical. In Acts 8-9, the text claims that Simon Magus was also thought of using demonic powers to do miracles and wonders, much like Jesus in the Gospels. It was written that Simon taught that the precepts of the law and the prophets were inspired by angels “in the desire to reduce men to slavery” and that those who believed in him and Helena were delivered from the tyranny of the law and were free to act as they would as detailed by Irenaeus. One must remember that the record of Simon Magus was either written by Orthodox Christians or scholars strongly influenced by Orthodox dogma. Thus Simon is portrayed as a villain and enemy of the church. There is zero objectivity within the existing historical record about Simon.

The Really Bad Samaritan

Wolfe-Mary And Jesus

It is said that Jesus had a “wife” or female companion/disciple and even purported prostitute, being Mary Magdalene, as indicated by the Gospel of Philip and other miscellaneous papyri. Simon also had a beautiful female companion named Helena who he redeemed from a brothel in the Phoenician city of Tyre. He recognized her immediately as the incarnation of Ennoia, His First Thought, the Holy Spirit, the Mother of All. He purchased her from her master and she became his constant companion during his travels and teachings. Justin Martyr in First Apology, Chapter 26, tells us about this power couple:

“To Simon the holy God.” And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him.”

Much like Apollonius, Simon was worshiped like a god. They proclaimed themselves themselves male and female gods battling the imprisonment of humanity from a rebellious number of fallen angels and archons. The Trojan War was seen as an allegory for the Archons going to war over the beauty and light of the fallen Helena, who is depicted as a prostitute because is captured, raped and abused by them, symbolizing the humiliation and imprisonment of the parcel of the divine light, placed in the human body. The NHC text, Exegesis of the Soul tells of her story of degradation and redemption, in great and painful detail.

Simon claimed he came to Earth to rescue Helena, the goddess Ennoia or the “First Thought” of the “Universal Mind” in human form. In other words, Helena was Sophia or Wisdom incarnate on earth. He promised that he would dissolve the world the angels had made. He promised that all who trusted in him and Helena could return with them to higher regions.  The fall, suffering, degradation and redemption of the prostitute Helena, found working in a brothel, who was bought be Simon, mentioned in all the Catholic sources was a sure sign of Simon’s depravity to the Church Fathers. The brothel itself was seen as symbolic of the world of flesh in which the divine light is caught in an adulterous folly of being taken hostage in the “tomb” of the body. In fact, Epiphanius goes so far as to call Helena “the whore” of the Holy Ghost! Epiphanius reiterates the illicit nature of Helena and Simon Magus’ relationship in Panarion, 2, 21, 2:2-3.

2:2 Since the tramp was naturally lecherous, and was encouraged by the respect that had been shown to his professions, he trumped up a phoney allegory for his dupes. He had gotten hold of a female vagabond from Tyre named Helen, and he took her without letting his relationship with her be known.

2:3 And while privately having an unnatural relationship with his paramour, the charlatan was teaching his disciples stories for their amusement and calling himself the supreme power of God, if you please! And he had the nerve to call the whore who was his partner the Holy Spirit, and said that he had come down on her account.

Perhaps this might be an off-colored indication that the “Whore of Babylon” of Revelations 17 and 18 is none other than Helena.

If I am depraved to find this beautiful creature divine, then I am the most depraved person in the world!

If I am depraved to find this beautiful creature divine, then I am the most depraved person in the world!

Many today call for replacing Christianity and the other world religions with a new form of spirituality that unites the world. Simon Magus actually traveled to Rome and established a universal church or at least a very large cult-following, before he was murdered by the Christians. For example, the story of the death of Simon Magus is a twisted portrayal of what really happened. It seems that Simon was capable of leaving the body and traveling freely in the spiritual planes or at the very least initiated as Paul was in 2 Corinthians 2:12-14:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows. He was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

Because he spoke of this, the Christians mocked him and claimed that he was a god and could literally fly at will. As the  story is told, Simon was performing magic in the Roman forum, proving his divinity, and was flying up into the air by the aid of riding a chariot lead by demons, according to Cyril of Jerusalem in the Catechetical Lectures, VI, 14-15. But the Apostle Peter prayed to God to stop his flying, and Simon fell to Earth, breaking his legs. The crowd then turned on him and stoned him to death. I suspect what probably actually happened was that the Christians threw Simon Magus off of a balcony, demanding that he show them his ability to fly. He fell to his death. Thus the first attempt to head-off the founding of the most enslaving religion that has ever existed was thwarted by Simon’s murder. Hallelujah!

Death of SImon Magus

While Simon was alive, he taught a doctrine of Grace, and freedom from the Mosaic Law, much like Paul did in his letters such as Galatians, Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians. Carpocrates had very similiar beliefs but was also much more Platonic in his orientation than Simon, however. Simon and his disciple, Menander taught that by means of magic one may overcome the angels that made the world. Only if you are baptized or initiated into Menander’s cult will you obtain resurrection and never die,  again having eternal youth (Against Heresies 1.23).  This corresponds to much of what the Greek Magical Papryi talks about of having a familiar or assistant spirit:

The] traditional rite [for acquiring an assistant]:  After the preliminary purifications, / [abstain from animal food] and from all uncleanliness and, on whatever [night] you want to, go [up] onto a lofty roof after you have clothed yourself in a pure garment . . . [and say] the first spell of encounter as the sun’s orb is dis appearing . . . with a [wholly] black Isis band on [your eyes], and in your right hand / grasp a falcon’s head [and . . . ] when the sun rises, hail it as you shake its head [and] . . . recite this sacred spell as you burn [uncut] frankincense and pure rose oil, making the sacrifice [in an earthen] censer on ashes from the [plant] heliotrope.

The same text goes into great detail on how to go into direct contact with the daimon or familiar spirit, which is basically synonymous with the Holy Guardian Angel of modern magical groups such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Crowleyean Ordo Templi Orientis- both of which peddle pseudo-Gnostic ideas. In any case, the pagan mystagogue and the Gnostic heretic are both condemned as sorcerers of demonic spirits and being possessed by them. Yet, many of these practices were actually done by Jesus in the New Testament! There may as well be a show called, “I dream of Jesus” or “Be-Jesused” the movie. Although I discuss this in great detail in my commentary on the Great Declaration, here are a few more interesting tidbits.

Healing Jesus

Jesus in all four Gospels, is often portrayed as both a sorcerer and an exorcist. When the Pharisees hear of Jesus’ successful exorcisms and healing of the sick, they do not dispute the effectiveness of such activities but they equate the source of this capacity as an unholy partnership between Jesus and Beelzebub, “the prince of demons”. Jesus is essentially to them, using demonic powers. It is very interesting to note that in Judaism, Yahweh was considered the sovereign god, supreme over all other spirits. In fact, Satan was given divine permission to test Job by Yahweh (Job 1-2) and the so-called demonic “evil spirits” were actually emissaries of Yahweh (1 Samuel 16: 14-16). The point is, angels nor demons have any real independence from Yahweh and are basically his lackeys. I smell archons!

Jesus’ response to Pharisaic judgement is to show up the illogicality of their argument. If they’re right, then all it means is that Jesus is destroying demons by the power of demons, indicating that Satan’s kingdom is at war with itself and therefore, like any kingdom in this situation would face imminent collapse. The fact here’s no such evidence of the imminent overthrow of Satan’s kingdom indicates that this kingdom is not divided and therefore his power to exorcise must come out not from Satan but from another source. Jesus affirms that the source of his activity is in the “Spirit of God”, meaning that the casting out of such demons and the overthrow of Satan was actually a sign that a new Kingdom alien to the world, was is manifesting itself. This, of course, corresponds to the Gnostic belief that God’s Kingdom manifests itself from the inside or the internal into the external as the Gospel of Thomas states:

3. Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

The Gnostic believes that the true God exists within. They believe that all humans share a single spirit, and thus are all one.

Asklepios - Epidauros

In the Acts of Pilate (also known as the Gospel of Nicodemus), the Jews accuse Jesus of being a magician (a charlatan) meaning someone who merely uses placebo’s or tricks. They claimed that Jesus invoked Beelzebub to cast out demons:

Pilate saith: And what things are they that he doeth, and would destroy the law?

The Jews say: We have a law that we should not heal any man on the Sabbath: but this man of his evil deeds hath healed the lame and the bent, the withered and the blind and the paralytic, the dumb and them that were possessed, on the Sabbath day!

Pilate saith unto them: By what evil deeds?

They say unto him: He is a sorcerer, and by Beelzebub the prince of the devils he casteth out devils, and they are all subject unto him.

Pilate saith unto them: This is not to cast out devils by an unclean spirit, but by the god Aesculapius.

Of course, it is doubtful the word daimon would have been used in such a derogatory way by a pagan like Pilate. In the Gospel of John chapter 5, Jesus heals a life long blind man at the pool of Bethesda outside the walls of Jerusalem. There is archaeological evidence that this was an Aesclepion, or a healing center.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

The phrase hygies genesthai (Do you want to be healed?) and the word louein (to wash)are reminiscent of language of the Aesculapius/Serapis cult as is the term soter. This same terminology (soter) is also ascribed to Dionysus or Bacchus.

In the Acts of Pilate, the Jews attribute Pilate’s wife’s dream to Jesus as a sorcerer, mirroring Irenaeus’ accusations against the Simonians and Carpocrateans’ practices:

Did we not tell you he was a sorcerer? Behold! He has sent a dream to your wife.

In the Nag Hammadi text, Aesculapius 21-29, Hermes Trismegistus tells Aesculapius:

“Since we have entered the matter of the communion between the gods and men, know, Asclepius, that in which man can be strong! For just as the Father, the Lord of the universe, creates gods, in this very way man too, this mortal, earthly, living creature, the one who is not like God, also himself creates gods. Not only does he strengthen, but he is also strengthened. Not only is he god, but he also creates gods. Are you astonished, Asclepius? Are you yourself another disbeliever like the many?”

This sounds very similar to what is expressed in the Gospel of Philip:

God created man. [...] men create God. That is the way it is in the world – men make gods and worship their creation. It would be fitting for the gods to worship men!

All of this is echoed in Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in John 10:33-38, which is an imitation of Psalms 82.

The Jews answered Him, “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods'”? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be set aside–what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”

Those Pesky Gnostics

The Catholic Church Father, Irenaeus (A.H. 1.16.3) would bitterly complain against the Gnostics that they were impious blasphemers against Yahweh, asserting that the Biblical God arose from a defect while claiming they were superior to such a god and there there is a superior, hidden and previously Unknown God, above the inferior creator much like what Simon believed according to the Clementine literature.

Impious indeed, beyond all impiety, are these men, who assert that the Maker of heaven and earth, the only God Almighty, besides whom there is no God, was produced by means of a defect, which itself sprang from another defect, so that, according to them, He was the product of the third defect.

The Gnostics thought of themselves as not only superior to YHWH but also had nothing to fear from such a god and his slavish laws and bitter slavery. The Gnostics took Jesus’ axiom of “seek and ye shall find” as an invitation to discover themselves as superior to the God of the Bible. And because of this, their behavior was often conceived as being antinomian because the liberty of the Gospel freed everyone from the dead letter of moral Law of Moses. (“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”)

Such men, according to Irenaeus, were sent by Satan himself, in order to dishonor the Church and were accused of all manner of libertine behavior- everything from eating meat sacrificed to idols as Paul discusses in a very ambivalent way (1 Corinthians 8:1-8), to being the first to assemble at heathen festivals, gladiator games, and engaging in sexual licentious practices such as consuming sexual fluids, orgies and wife-swapping. Epiphanius goes to great lengths to claim that Simonians, among many other Gnostic sects, consumed semen and menstrual fluids because they allegedly had power to provide perfect knowledge, upon ingestion in ceremonies. He even claimed that another Gnostic sect, the Phibionites, would actually consume an aborted fetus in the event that a woman was accidentally made pregnant! Baby sandwiches anyone?

Other times the Gnostics were simply accused of abstaining from sex and marriage altogether, considering them abhorrent and tools of Satan- much like Marcion of Pontus and Saturnilus of Antioch. These kinds of people, according to Irenaeus, were so numerous and common that he quite literally describes them as mushrooms in terms of being pests:

Besides those, however, among these heretics who are Simonians, and of whom we have already spoken, a multitude of Gnostics have sprung up, and have been manifested like mushrooms growing out of the ground.

Following in the footsteps of Jesus, the Gnostics were also considered to be healers and known to be involved with sympathetic magic, Indian-styled mantras, hissing sounds and other healing practices as mentioned by their philosophical arch-nemesis, Plotinus in Enneads 2.9.4:

They tell us they can free themselves of diseases. If they meant, by temperate living and an appropriate regime, they would be right and in accordance with all sound knowledge. But they assert diseases to be spirit-beings and boast of being able to expel them by formula: This pretension may enhance their importance with the crowd, gaping on the powers of magicians; but they can never persuade the intelligent that disease arises otherwise than from such causes as overstrain, excess, deficiency, putrid decay; in a word, some variation whether from within or from without. The nature of illness is indicated by its very cure. A motion, a medicine, the letting of blood, and the disease shifts down and away; sometimes scantiness of nourishment restores the system: Presumably the spiritual power gets hungry or is debilitated by the purge. Either this spirit makes a hasty exit or it remains within…

It might be a surprise to my readers that the early Gnostics weren’t just philosophizing esotericists spouting “crazy mumbo-jumbo” or so-called “flesh-hating dualists” as the Orthodox claim but were also legitimate physicians from actual medical schools! These medical schools were known as the Pneumatics and the Methodics, the first of which was founded by Athenaeus of Attalia and Galen. Galen himself was a Platonist and understood medicine and human anatomy in terms of humorism.

The Catholics on the other hand had no medical training- whether it be theoretical or practical. They relied on the superstition of prayer which is hardly any different than the divination used by witches. The Pneumatics, much like the Plotinus’ Gnostics, believed that disease was due to an imbalance in temperature and deficiency/overabundance of liquids to be a cause. It wouldn’t be an enormous stretch to consider that the Pneumatics and the Gnostics were actually one and the same. It would also explain Paul’s usage of the term “pneumatikos” in his letters, as many scholars are simply stumped on where he picked up such a word.

Before the 1st century C.E., there was a school of Aesculapius at Epidaurus and this was the leading center of the medical field in the Greco-Roman world even up to the 2nd century. Galen, the Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher, was responsible for popularizing the prognostic approach over that of divination and speculation. The Gospels and the Apocryphon of John, as well as book six of the Philosophumena of Hippolytus as well as the Great Declaration of Simon Magus, all share similiar ideas in that they both apply unusual readings and applications on human physiology. The Apocryphon of John lists all of these parts as being associated with a number of different ruling demons, as the same texts quotes all of this from the Book of Zoroaster. When Jesus went in to a place to “cast out demons” he was in reality restoring one of the supposed 365 parts of the body that were ill or misaligned, or of bad humor.

Manichaean Tom-Foolery

In about 252 AD, Mani, a Persian, mixed Gnostic-Christianity, Buddhism and other Persian elements. He stated his teaching came from Christ and the Persian Magi. Mani taught there are two eternal principles: one Light and one Darkness. For Mani, Jesus was not a real man [did not have flesh] nor did he undergo punishment on the cross. Satan is also the god of Moses and the prophets. Man does not has free will, as some are born with their nature totally depraved, while others are born nearly perfect.

Mani much like Simon Magus, Carpocrates and the Alexandrian-Egyptian Hesesiarch Basilides, taught reincarnation based on Karma- although in much more negative terms than those from the East. Mani said he was the Comforter or Holy Spirit (Paraclete) incarnate. Mani taught vegetarianism as the ideal way to eat and abstained from all manner of animal flesh as well as wine. Mani taught, unlike the world, man was the created by demons. The aim of demons is to imprison in man, through the propagation of the race, as much as possible of the light, and so to hinder the separating process by the sun and the moon.

The Manichaeans taught salvation comes from rigorous asceticism and believed that salvation consisted simply in the liberation of the light from the darkness. Mani also taught that there was a purgatory for purifying souls of their animal nature. After being purged of sins in the sun, the souls fly to the moon [Purgatory]. The spirit of man is from light of God and his body from the darkness of Satan.

Mani

In the Acts of the Disputation with Manes (Archelaus), written by Hegemonius, there is a very long debate between Mani and the Catholic bishop of Cachar, Archaleus, much like how the Clementine literature pits Simon against Peter in their debates. In this text, we see a possible literary model for Mani based on none other than the father of all heresies himself, Simon Magus!

Although Mani in the end loses to Archaleus, he makes several fascinating points, including one about the spirit being held hostage in the cycles of reincarnation and the world. The physical universe is basically an adulterous synthesis between the absolutes of spirit and matter. Even in this synthesis, such principles do not change and only invite conflict, sin, duality and suffering to exist as testified by Mani, in Acts Archelaus, 9:

Moreover, there are certain other worlds on which the luminaries rise when they have set on our world. And if a person walks upon the ground here, he injures the earth; and if he moves his hand, he injures the air; for the air is the soul (life) of men and living creatures, both fowl, and fish, and creeping thing. And as to every one existing in this world, I have told you that this body of his does not pertain to God, but to matter, and is itself darkness, and consequently it must needs be cast in darkness.

Like Aesculapius, Apollonius of Tyana, Jesus and the Pnuematics, Mani also thought of himself as a healer or a physician from Babylon. He demonstrates his abilities by restoring the health of a maiden, which echoes the theme of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of the blood from Luke 8:40-58, not to mention Simon and Helena. Mani also defends himself against his detractors by invoking his numerous healings and demonic exorcisms like Jesus did with the Pharisees. Even the Nestorian bishop Theodore bar Konai begrudgingly concedes that Mani was “familiar with the art of healing,” via sorcery in Scholion (ed. Scher), 2:312.20-21. However, such charges of sorcery and magic seem to conflict with the Manichaean ten commandments, especially in one commandment against practicing magic. Archaleus himself is very critical of Mani’s purported medical talents and claims they are based on fraud. Archaleus writes against Mani about claiming to be the Paraclete, by even claiming the heretics before Mani were practically saints in comparison to his deceit:

And, in good truth, I hold Marcion, and Valentinian, and Basilides, and other heretics, to be sainted men when compared with this person. For they did display a certain kind of intellect, and they did, indeed, think themselves capable of understanding all Scripture, and did thus constitute themselves leaders for those who were willing to listen to them. But notwithstanding this, not one of these dared to proclaim himself to be either God, or Christ, or the Paraclete, as this fellow has done, who is ever disputing, on some occasions about the ages, and on others about the sun, and how these objects were made, as though he were superior to them himself; for every person who offers an exposition of the method in which any object has been made, puts himself forward as superior to and older than the subject of his discussion.

Cyril of Jerusalem also referred to Simon as the Paraclete, in which Mani seems to follow wholesale in the Catechetical Lectures, VI, 14:

This man, after he had been cast out by the Apostles, was the first that dared with blasphemous mouth to say that it was himself who appeared on Mount Sinai as the Father, and afterwards appeared among the Jews, not in real flesh but in seeming, as Christ Jesus, and afterwards as the Holy Spirit whom Christ promised to send as the Paraclete. And he so deceived the City of Rome that Claudius set up his statue, and wrote beneath it, in the language of the Romans, ‘To Simon the Holy God’”

Towards the end of Acts Archaleus, Mani eventually loses to him in their debates and scatters off while stalked by the Bishop and is defeated over and over in their debates. This also occurs in the apocryphal Acts, where Simon is also defeated in a verbal fight with Peter. Simon only continues to other lands to continue his vicious preaching and is defeated yet again. In Acts, Mani is nearly lynched by the crowd when he fails to meet up to his expectations (although restrained by Archaleus), much like Simon in the Acts of Peter, when he fails to resurrect a man. The crowd then attempts to burn Simon at the stake like a true heretic that he is but is restrained by Peter, who warns them to not sully their hands with such a sin.

Mani is even said to take flight (or run) much like Simon (if taken the words in the following excerpt literally), is forced to perform such a miracle to a blood-thirsty crowd:

Then, too, the children who had chanced to gather about the place began and set the example of pelting Manes and driving him off; and the rest of the crowd followed them, and moved excitedly about, with the intention of compelling Manes to take to flight. But when Archelaus observed this, he raised his voice like a trumpet above the din, in his anxiety to restrain the multitude, and addressed them thus:Stop, my beloved brethren, lest perhaps we be found to have the guilt of blood on us at the day of judgment; for it is written of men like this, that ‘there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.’

Such apocryphal tales could very well be seen as precursors to what would eventually happen to many of these heretics. Much of this whole sale dismissal of such magicians would eventually lead and give precedent to the later Roman Emperors made numerous enactments against sorcery, divination, and all kinds of magic.

The “Christian” Emperor, Constantine (for example), prohibited all forms of magic, but specially excepted and authorized “that which was intended to avert hail and lightning.” Such magical practices were seen as synonymous with heresy and the pagan mysteries. And of course, all of these things would eventually and gradually become prohibited. The worst thing Constantine probably did was send heretics into exile. His edicts call for the confiscation of texts and property of heretics, and exile is the next logical step. The really bad stuff seems to have started under Theodosius, where paganism and heresy are made into capital crimes. And then it gets worse under the Byzantines.

In fact, legislation’s such as the Theosodian decrees would persecute and eventually slaughter these kinds of people, such as the Manichaeans, Marcionites, the Priscillianists (many of which were burnt to death), and many other pagans and heretics. Such laws effectively made them second class citizens in many ways. The Theodosius decrees would declare such people as insane vermin and witches. And all were pulled from their houses and burned in the streets by the Catholics. Ambrose admits to this fact, as does Jerome.

Even many of the Nag Hammadi texts make allusions to ongoing orthodox persecution. The Apocalypse of Peter, for example, is all about Gnostics undergoing Catholic persecution and outright dubs the Bishops as “dry canals”, meaning that they were empty husks of flesh, deprived of spirit. The Second Treatise of the Great Seth and the Gospel of Judas also make various allusions to this and their overall mutual contempt for each other.  The Gospel of Judas goes so far as to claim that Catholic priests are actively involved in slaughter, illicit sex with men, and child sacrifice:

[Jesus said], “What are [the priests] like?”

They [said, “Some …] two weeks; [some] sacrifice their own children, others their wives, in praise [and] humility with each other; some sleep with men; some are involved in [slaughter]; some commit a multitude of sins and deeds of lawlessness. And the men who stand [before] the altar invoke your [name], [39] and in all the deeds of their deficiency, the sacrifices are brought to completion […].”

After they said this, they were quiet, for they were troubled.

As is always the case, would-be-Messiahs lose and the bullies win at the end of the day.

The Great Declaration: A Commentary (Part 4)

My ultimate contention is that Simon Magus is Chrestus and Simon identifies himself with the Logos and the Samaritan Messiah. While some believe this is a misspelling of Christos (it is not so) Chrestus and his followers and Peter and his followers were at odds as illustrated in part’s 2 and 3. Literature like the Clementines, although summarily dismissed by many scholars a pseudo works (pretended to be the actual words of Pope Clement) and place it all the way to the fourth century, when it is actually much closer to the second century. Many apocryphal texts use this method of pretending to be the words of another, such as Jesus, which is more of a style of exposition and not meant to deceive. The Gnostic Gospels use this very method to convey their spiritual messages.

While the Clementines do in fact treat Simon Magus in an unfavorable light to the point where he is vilified, but the Clementines do show him as a major opponent to Peter (Dositheos). Although Simon appears to use tricks and magic, Peter also appears not to be without these himself. What is most disturbing to Church authorities is that Clementines say that Simon Magus took over the organization of John the Baptist after his death and not Jesus. This would clearly give him the stature to be on an equal footing as Peter in their debates. However, in Acts 8, Simon is depicted as being converted to Peter’s faith as well, much like how Paul is type-casted as a devout Pharisaic convert to Judeo-Christianity in true propaganda form, in the same text.

Simon (like many Gnostics after him) are very slippery in his debate against the Orthodox Peter. Or subtle, depending on your loyalty. The rest of the debate is quite interesting, and very complex, very rhetorically brilliant on both sides (another reason I think the letter is genuine). It also prefigures the great Gnostic-Christian divide of those early centuries quite well; this encounter may have symbolically actuated the great divide between the two camps.

There is also evidence of a possible Philonic (Philo of Alexandria) confluence with Simonian thought because both parties focus on the first five books of the Old Testament in esoteric ways. It was Philo who represents the apex of Jewish-Hellenistic syncretism. His work attempts to combine Platonism and Old Testament theology into one philosophical system as testified by his multitude of writings.

It is probable to suspect Simon Magus played a much more important role in the evolution of early Christianity than most biblical scholars are willing to acknowledge. The vast body of patristic writings, (especially the much reviled Clementine literature) about him suggest that the figure of Simon loomed far larger in the early church fathers than in the minds of today. What I’ve been suggesting in the last three entries is not new as other scholars in their own way such as Robert M. Price, Robert Eisenman, Simone Petrement, Hermann Detering, G.R.S. Mead, etc have also expressed similar sentiments. Without being said, what I am also suggesting also ruffles the feathers of many people out there with Orthodox/Catholic sympathies but alas I am not here to placate the rabble or any ecclesiastical authority. Again, we will also tackle commentary on the Great Declaration.

The Taheb

The Samaritans (the “Guardians” or “Watchers” of the Law), are a Hebrew tribe, who only observe the Samaritan Pentateuch, which is basically the first five books of the Torah. Samaritians claimed that their worship was true to the faith while the Jews or the Judeans had an altered faith because of the Babylonian Captivity influence. The Samaritians claim descent from the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manesseh, and still inhabit their lands to this day, between Judea and Galilee. Moses’ successor and conqueror of the Promises Land, Joshua, was from Ephraim and the tribe also happened to he given the honor of being the custodians of the Ark of the Covenant in its sanctuary at Shiloh. There are historians who claim that Ephraim, Manesseh and Benjamin were the only three tribes that came out of Egypt, while the others were Canaanites who were converts to Moses’ religion. This connection between Ephraim and Egypt and its Heliopolis religion makes sense considering Moses’ strong connection with Egypt, Aton worship and even the figures of Thoth/Hermes.

Many scholars and archaeologists have shown that the Israelites’ original religion was far from monotheistic and even patriarchal that it was to become, and that is owed its existence to the native paganism of Canaan and Egypt. In Part 3, we saw that the Gnostics believed that each nation of Israel and her prophets was ruled over by the seven angels or the Archons. Moses is listed as belonging to Ialdabaoth. Curiously enough, Ephraim is not listed…

After Israel developed itself into a nation, a power struggle also developed quickly after, between Ephraim and Judah. As the story goes, King David usurped Ephraim’s status by taking the Ark of the Covenant to Jersualem, being the new religious center in Judah’s territory. After the reign of King Solomon, the Israelite kingdom split in two, with Ephraim heading the ten tribes in the north and Judah in the south. Thus, a new sanctuary and temple which rivaled Jerusalem, was built in Ephraim’s land on Mount Gerizim.

Soon after this, the more powerful Assyrian empire invaded Northern Israel and underwent a very traumatic invasion and mass enslavement through the Babylonian Captivity, two centuries later. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem after their seventy-year exile, they set about codifying and reforming their religion, incorporating concepts from that of Babylon. Both camps believed that their own religion was the “pure” version while they viewed each other’s versions as heretical. Victors’ history decided that the Jews were superior over the Samaritians, but the Samaritans could have been right…

This rivalry reached a climax when Judea conquered Samaria and destroyed their temple. This was the icing on the cake for the Samaritan resentment and even hatred of the Jews. It was only the advent of Roman rule that Samaria was freed from Jewish subjugation. The Jewish and Samaritan rivalry even affected their eschatology or end-time speculations: each tribe saw their own as coming out on top. The Judeans would have likely hated the idea of bringing in the Samaritans back into the fold; while the Samaritians held their own views on Judah being overthrown by their own Messiah, being the Taheb. The woman at the well in John 4 could very well have recognized Jesus (Simon) as the Taheb.

Good Samaritan

In the Samaritian tradition, there is a messianic figure or title known as the “Taheb” or the “restorer” or prophet like Moses, who would come and restore the true worship on Mount Gerizim. Instead of the Davidic Messiah that the Jews were expecting, the Samaritans looked forward to the coming of this chosen one, “the restorer” which is centered on Deuteronomy 18:18, a herald of the last day–a day of final judgment, of vengeance and reward, when the temple of Gerizim would be restored, Jerusalem destroyed (!) the sacrifices reinstated and the heathen converted. Deuteronomy 18:18 says:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.

It is notable that the Samaritan Taheb goes out of its way to differentiate itself from the Davidic Warrior-King Messiah. Jesus of John is often portrayed as being entirely hostile to Judaism and the Pharisees as noted in Part 2. John and Jesus refer to the Jews as a “brood of vipers”, sort of a case of inverting the traditional hermenuetic of the serpent causing the fall of Adam and Eve and applying it to the Jews.

It is reasonable to conclude that much of the Old and New Testament feuds and tensions between Jesus, Paul, Stephen, Simon, John the Baptist with the lapdog Judean Pharisees and their Roman elite rulers of the day reflect this mutual hatred. The Samaritans only recognized an archaic form of YHWH, one that was still close to El, the Father, and to the angelic or even contained in his Elohim form (the Gods). Holding that the sanctuary at Sichem on Mount Gerizim was the only true Temple, Samaritanism only recognized the Torah or the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) as sacred texts- as mentioned earlier. They also recognized the Book of Joshua, being the sixth book of the Pentateuch, but not for good reasons. The Babylonian Talmud was also readily rejected.

The Book of Joshua as well as Numbers 31:13-18  recounts the Hebrew conquest of Canaan as a war of extermination and death, including that of women and children. The Church Father Origen was well aware that such texts like Joshua provided critics like Marcion evidence that the God of the Old Testament was morally obtuse if not outright evil. Origen had a different solution to this dilemma by allegorizing the tribal warfare, cruelty and extreme violence that is brimming in the Old Testament as the soul struggling against sin and temptation and the enemies of the Church. This is all laid out in his Homilies on Joshua. Thus, any sort of objectionable and disturbing behavior exhibited by Yahweh was successfully explained away.  The Land of Canaan was allegorized as the soul to be brought under the rule of “Jesus” or Joshua. In Numbers 25:4, it is clear that Yahweh is an incredibly blood-thirty warrior-god:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.

The arch-heretic Marcion would have likely rejected Origen’s usage of allegory. In fact, Marcion felt that the Old Testament was so fundamentally flawed and of no consequence for the Christian Church. Moreover, for the Marcionite church, it was better to cast away the Old Testament aside than to tarnish the image of the Father of Jesus Christ by the mixing in traces of the war-like God, who even commanded that every first-born of Egypt to be killed by the Destroying Angel (Exodus 11:5) indicating that he was no better than the supposed myth that Herod was involved in the “massacre of the innocents” as per Matthew 2: 16-18.

In 144 A.D., appeared a ship-builder from Sinope named Marcion. He founded a church system that rivaled in numbers and influence that of the orthodox Christian church. By 150 A.D., Justin Martyr wrote that Marcionites had expanded “to the uttermost bounds of the earth.” (Justin, Apology 1.26.) It required three hundred years for the orthodox church to eventually rout out the heresy of Marcion.

Marcion was not battling the Roman Catholic church. It did not yet exist. Instead, there was a large orthodox church led from Jerusalem. The Roman bishop was just one bishop among many throughout the Mediterranean. Even if Peter (who is really based on Dositheos) was in Rome at one point, there was no effort to exercise superiority from Rome until many centuries later.

What happened is that Marcion declared in 144 A.D. that Paul alone was the true apostle for the era of grace; the twelve apostles, in particular their gospel of Matthew, were tainted by legalism; the Jesus of the twelve belonged to the God of the Old Testament; and the Jesus of Paul represented the son of a loving Father who now accepted us by faith alone. As Adolf Harnack, the Marcionite sympathizing scholar (d. 1930) expressed it:

According to Marcion, Christ saved us from the world and its god in order to make us children of a new and alien God.

Marcion’s primary threat to the church is that, unlike the Gnostics, his teachings were rooted in part of the same set of scriptures used by the orthodox, although an earlier variant, and his was an organized religious movement, not an esoteric cult. It had the potential to become the so-called orthodoxy. And in many regions, such as Syria, it WAS considered the orthodox form of Christianity. Of course, history readily shown this brand of Christianity was only destined to fall by the way side and eventually buried by the Roman Catholic Church. See Antithesis for more on Marcion’s train of thought on the division between the Old and New Testament. Marcion could very well be seen as the forerunner of the Protestant reformation movement later on in the 15th century, starting with Martin Luther…
 
Apostle_John_and_Marcion_of_Sinope,_from_JPM_LIbrary_MS_748,_11th_c
As noted by scholars, Marcion’s gospel is a lot older than one would assume, and Mark isn’t quite as early as most contemporary New Testament critics think it is. The earliest records of Jesus were most likely collections of his sayings, like the Gospel of Thomas, and by the latter half of the first century, these were eventually put into narrative form. This is when we see gospel authors trying to link Jesus to messianic prophecies in the OT, such as using Psalm 22 as the basis for the crucifixion events, among other things. But there are a number of sayings attributed to Jesus that indicate he never intended to be the Jewish messiah, and even denied being so, but his Jewish followers, who were intent on making him such, wrote mythological narratives like Matthew and Mark that present him that way.
 

“And he said unto them, How say they that the Christ is David’s son? And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. David therefore calleth him Lord, and how is he then his son?” Luke 20:42

“His disciples said to him, ‘Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel, and they all spoke of you.’ He said to them, ‘You have disregarded the living one who is in your presence, and have spoken of the dead.'” Gospel of Thomas, Logion 52.

These two passages clearly call into question the Jewishness of Jesus, indicating that he may have been originally a Samaritan. The Gospel of John also reflects that it may have been written by a Samaritan community, considering its very pro-Samaritan sentiments. This would contradict other very pro-Law statements of Jesus in Matthew 5:17. However, Jesus Christ (which is ultimately a title and not an actual name at all) was all things to all people, and in his statement “I am” implies a totality of Messiah, Christ and Taheb. This is directly stated in the Gospel of Thomas, Logion 13:

Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me to someone and tell me whom I am like.”

Simon Peter said to him, “You are like a righteous angel.”

Matthew said to him, “You are like a wise philosopher.”

Thomas said to him, “Master, my mouth is wholly incapable of saying whom you are like.”

Jesus said, “I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.”

And he took him and withdrew and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, “What did Jesus say to you?”

Thomas said to them, “If I tell you one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up.”

Again, we see this idea repeated in 1 Corinthians 9:20, when Paul states:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

This is very much comparable to how Simon describes himself in the Great Declaration:

“I was manifested to the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father, and among the gentiles as the Holy Spirit, and I permitted them to call me by whatever name they pleased.”

These ideas all touch on the idea of doceticism but I will save this for the finale of this commentary.

The Two Powers Revisited

In the Clementine literature, Simon Magus in his seminal debate with Peter argued that Yahweh was one of the sons of God, being their chief, but was distinct from God the Most High or the Unknowable God. Peter’s position, however, is not so clear. Peter basically claims that the God of the Jews is called the “God of gods”, implying there is no power higher than YHWH. However, Peter later adds that the God of gods is actually Christ. So, Peter, in actuality contradicts himself or conflates YHWH with Christ. Simon in the Recognition’s II.39, argues by using Jewish scripture that there were many gods, like Jesus did in the Gospel of John.

Then Simon said: “I shall make use of assertions from the law of the Jews only. For it is manifest to all who take interest in religion, that this law is of universal authority, yet that every one receives the understanding of this law according to his own judgment. For it has so been written by Him who created the world, that the faith of things is made to depend upon it. Whence, whether any one wishes to bring forward truth, or any one to bring forward falsehood, no assertion will be received without this law. Inasmuch, therefore, as my knowledge is most fully in accordance with the law, I rightly declared that there are many gods, of whom one is more eminent than the rest, and incomprehensible, even He who is God of gods.

But that there are many gods, the law itself informs me. For, in the first place, it says this in the passage where one in the figure of a serpent speaks to Eve, the first woman, `On the day ye eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall be as gods, ‘ that is, as those who made man; and after they have tasted of the tree, God Himself testifies, saying to the rest of the gods, `Behold, Adam is become as one of us; ‘ thus, therefore, it is manifest that there were many gods engaged in the making of man…

As mentioned in Part 3, the heresy of the “two powers of Heaven” (a crime against the unique God in the eyes of Jewish orthodoxy) probably started in heretical Jewish circles such as the Sethians (or really Dosithaeans), although condemned by the Books of Enoch, was inadvertently slipped into its ideas of the confrontation between the good angels (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Uriel) and the fallen angels, being the Watchers, in the same text.

The two powers doctrine even influenced Philo of Alexandria, where he separates Theos, the Good God from the Kyrios, or Adonai, being the same being as the Tetragrammaton YHWH. However, Philo does not devalue YHWH as an inferior creator or angelic power as Simon and his followers did and probably would have considered them as evil heretics. The term “Kyrios” is ascribed to Paul’s Christ multiple times throughout his letters, although not as much in the gospels, especially the Gospel of John. Even more significantly, according to Hippolytus, Simon was called “Lord” by his followers, at least by his later ones (Refutation of All Heresies, 6,15).

Philo also identifies the Logos as “a second God” and even “God,” and his association of the Logos with the “two powers” as two potentcies in one God (See: Questions and Answers on Exodus. 2.68.) It is also surely significant that Philo nowhere seeks to defend these beliefs against a charge of heresy. The fact that Philo gives no indication that he was departing from an already-existing Jewish “orthodoxy,” or that his teaching on the Logos was met with objections, suggests that his views were not objectionable to his contemporaries. Perhaps this can be a form of argument of silence?

Both Philo and the Gnostics testify to the belief of a second God, the creator, the Logos, the Man. The Gnostics, however, identified the second God with the God of the Jews in a way that Philo does not. Philo, along with the Samaritians, would have naturally rejected the Gnostics as well as Marcion’s separation of the God of the Jews, being the Lawgiver and creator of the world from the Good God of Jesus Christ as many of his much later Orthodox enemies in the ever-growing minority Catholic Church.

Speaking of the Catholic Church, Eusebius, the infamous propaganda minister of the burgeoning Orthodoxy had this to say about the Two Powers, in Preparation for the Gospel, Book XI, Chapter XIV:

First then Moses expressly speaks of two divine Lords in the passage where he says, ‘Then the LORD rained from the LORD fire and brimstone upon the city of the ungodly: where he applied to both the like combination of Hebrew letters in the usual way; and this combination is the mention of God expressed in the four letters, which is with them unutterable.

In accordance with him David also, another Prophet as well as king of the Hebrews, says, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand,’ indicating the Most High God by the first LORD, and the second to Him by the second title. For to what other is it right to suppose that the right hand of the Unbegotten God is conceded, than to Him alone of whom we are speaking?

This is He whom the same prophet in other places more clearly distinguishes as the Word of the Father, supposing Him whose deity we are considering to be the Creator of the universe, in the passage where he says, ‘By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made firm.’

The Fingerprints of Dositheos

The famous Theosophist G.R.S Mead speaks of the Taheb of the Samaritan’s in the following excerpt from John the Baptizer and Christian Origins:

“Now in Samaritan tradition, and it will be remembered that the Samaritans rejected all the Jewish scriptures save the Five Fifths of the Law, their future Redeemer was to be called Joshua. This Deliverer they called the Ta’eb, the Returner, and they believed he would be a reborn or returned Joshuah. The Ta’eb is the Samaritan ‘Messiah.’ In this connection a recently translated Samaritan Midrash (B.M. Samaritan MS. Or. 33931) is especially instructive.

It understands the title Ta’eb as signifying ‘he who repents’ or even ‘he who makes to repent,’ not so much the Returner as the Turner-back of others. It is brought into close connection also with Noḫam, meaning Repenting, and is thus by word-play associated with Noah. Our Samaritan Midrash accordingly brings Noah on to the scene of expected redemption, and becomes a spiritualized version of the Deluge-story,abounding in mystical word-plays. One or two specimens (p. 22) of them may now be given, as the ideas behind them are reminiscent of the John-circle of ideas.

Whereas in the old story Yahveh orders Noah: “Make thee an ark (tebah),” the Midrash makes God say unto the Ta’eb: “Make thee a conversion”—or repentance (Aram. shuba, tubah). And so it continues in many details glossing the original parts of the ark by means of word-play, introducing notions of propitiation, expiation and atonement. A single passage from the original will make this clear, and in reading it we should remember that Samaria was a hot-bed of mystic and gnostic movements of all sorts.

In many ways G.R.S. Mead is correct about Samaria being the well-spring in which Gnostic thought may very well stem from, which explains the murky Jewish origins of Sethianism and its possible ties with Dositheos. It should also be noted that the Catholic heresiologists’ talking point that Simon was the originator of Gnosticism, however does not reflect Samaritan theology, since they do not speak of any distinctive Gnostic ideas such as a Demiurge, an Unknowable God above the creator, an immaterial Savior, or fallen Wisdom.

This kind of theology is reflective only later, especially in Simon Magus’s debates with Simon Peter in the Clementines. The most that can be said on that subject is that Simon may have included some elements of a particular Samaritian tradition in the development of his system. Of course, Dositheos understood himself and applied the title of the Standing One and if Dositheos understood himself as a neo-Moses, there was a sufficient amount of mythological language in the Samaritan Moses tradition upon which Simon could have drawn in the development of his distinctive system from Dositheos.

Dositheos, according to the Clementine tradition was the founder of a Samaritan sect. According to Josepheus, he is dated in the second century B.C.E., the 1st century C.E by Origen and the Clementine Recognition’s, and the fourth century C.E., under the Arabic-Muslim transliterated name of “Dusis” in the Samaritan Chronicles 3,6,7. According to Hegesippus as quoted by Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History iv. 22, his sect believed that he was Christ as foretold by Moses. This is a very important fact, in light of how Moses is betrayed in the Great Declaration, in a highly favorable status. This, however, seems to fly in the face of the Apostle Paul’s views on Moses, the Lawgiver and the Law. One example can be seen in 2 Corinthians 3:12-14:

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, who put a veil over his face, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolish: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament…

Even the fact that Simon was considered to be synonymous with the semi-human god of Rome, Semoni Sanco Deo, the god of contracts, is worth noting because such a god sounded very similiar to that of the Lawgiver, the God of the Old Testament. Contracts and oaths were also said to be important to the Greek God Zeus. The connection between Simon and Zeus (as well as Helena with Athena/Minerva) has already been well-established in this series as testified by Irenaeus, Justin Martyr and Hippolytus. It is also worth noting that Zeus was also seen as a Savior figure, much like Jesus while YHWH was often associated with the Titan-Cronus or Saturn, as I have well established in other posts on this blog. Let’s move further onward..

Urizen

The Standing Ones

According to Hippolytus who begins his Book of Heresies with the Dositheans, makes Dositheos as the root of the Samaritian heresy. Tertullian does the same thing in Adversus omnes hareses, 1- thus indicating that the long list of heretics may have their root in the heretical cult of Dositheos. Like Simon, Dositheos rejected the prophets accepted by the Jewish canon, called for the reform of Mosaic law, and even advocated the abolition of religious duties. The Church Father Origen also mentions Dositheos in Contra Celsus, 1, 57.

And after the times of Jesus, Dositheus the Samaritan also wished to persuade the Samaritans that he was the Christ predicted by Moses; and he appears to have gained over some to his views. But it is not absurd, in quoting the extremely wise observation of that Gamaliel named in the book of Acts, to show how those persons above mentioned were strangers to the promise, being neither sons of God nor powers of God, whereas Christ Jesus was truly the Son of God.

So here, Origen assigns him to the 1st Century, after the time of Christ, and claims that he made himself out to be the Messiah promised by Moses. Of the Dositheans, Origen reports that only thirty remained in his day. This Dosithean and Simonian rejection of the Prophets, more or less also reflects Paul’s distinction between his Christ Jesus and Mosiac Law in 2 Corinthians 3:6-8:

“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his appearance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministry of the spirit be more glorious?”

Paul’s comments on Moses’ radiant continence reflect Exodus 34:27-35, where Moses spends 40 days in the company of YHWH. This also reflects the supposed erroneous translation in St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate on Moses being depicted as a horned god in Exodus 34: 29-30:

“And when Moses came down from the Mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near.”

But, we will save this controversy for others to discuss. Interestingly in John 5:45, Jesus calls Moses, quite literally Satan!

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.”

Paul in Romans 7 also maintains that the Law of Moses, as well as the God of Sinai, were condemned to death when Jesus died and dissolved on the cross! Humanity is delivered from the crushing weight that is the curse of the Law and into the “living spirit” of Christ.

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Obviously, there is a big contradiction in that Paul and the Johannite Jesus both reject Moses while Dositheos (Peter) and to a lesser extent, Simon, embrace and identify with him! In the Clementine Homilies, 2.24, Simon and Dositheos have a confrontation after Simon discovers that Dositheos did not correctly teach community doctrines to the Samaritans. During Simon’s absence during John the Baptist’s untimely death, Dositheos assumed leadership of the Baptist community and when Simon returned, he initially did not oppose him. It is only when Simon discovers his errors, is when Simon confronts Dositheos:

 And on one occasion, Dositheus, perceiving that this artful accusation of Simon was dissipating the opinion of him with respect to many, so that they did not think that he was the Standing One, came in a rage to the usual place of meeting, and finding Simon, struck him with a staff. But it seemed to pass through the body of Simon as if he had been smoke. Thereupon Dositheus, being confounded, said to him, ‘If you are the Standing One, I also will worship you.’ Then Simon said that he was; and Dositheus, knowing that he himself was not the Standing One, fell down and worshipped; and associating himself with the twenty-nine chiefs, he raised Simon to his own place of repute; and thus, not many days after, Dositheus himself, while he (Simon) stood, fell down and died.

The significance of this passage is important because the Standing One term is used to denote that the person who holds such a title has authority, power and above all divinity. There is also a reference to the staff, which is an allusion to Moses as an authority figure. There are numerous Samaritan texts which identify Moses as a  near-Divine figure- the embodiment of the Eternal Light or a Logos-like figure as Philo of Alexandria would hold. Moses, being the author of the Torah, “had reached the very summit of philosophy” and “had learnt from the oracles of God the most numerous and important of the principles of nature” (Op. 8).

The Moses theology was clearly a major part of Dositheanism and would have passed into Simon’s Gnostic system if the tradition of the teacher/student relationship is accurate as mentioned in the Clementine literature and not contrived. This is evidenced in the following passages of the Great Declaration. This is not the only source of Simon’s theology, but one need not look further than Samaritan locale for the remaining sources. As mentioned earlier, the region had been extensively Hellenized during the pre-Roman period. Simon appears to have drawn not only on the intellectual traditions of the Israelitic Gerizim-based Samaritan community but also on Hellenistic mythologies and religions.

We can see that Simon clearly lived in Samaria and was a Samaritan by race according to the Clementine Homilies (Homily II, Chapter XXII), where Aquila is pictured as stating:

“This Simon is the son of Antonius and Rachel, a Samaritan by race, of the village of Gitthae, which is six schoeni distant from the city (of Samaria). He having disciplined himself greatly in Alexandria, and being very powerful in magic, and being ambitious, wishes to be accounted a certain supreme power, greater even than the God who created the world. And sometimes intimating that he is Christ, he styles himself the Standing One.”

A closely related passage is found in the Recognition’s of Clement (Book II, Chapt. VII):

“This Simon’s father was Antonius, and his mother Rachel. By nation he is a Samaritan, from a village of the Gettones; by profession a magician, yet exceedingly well trained in the Greek literature; desirous of glory, and boasting above all the human race, so that he wishes himself to be believed to be an exalted power, which is above God the Creator, and to be thought to be the Christ, and to be called the Standing One.”

The two accounts agree that his parents’ names were Antonius and Rachel and that he was a Samaritan. They disagree over whether he came from a village called Gitthae or from a village populated by the Gettones. My judgment is that the more primitive tradition is that he came from a village called Gitthae. They agree he was a magician. According to one, he spent a part of his life in Alexandria. According to the other, he knew Greek literature. Together, they suggest he was educated at Alexandria–which education would have included the reading of important Greek literature like Homer, Plato, Heraclitus, etc.

They agree that, he taught, the universe was created by an inferior god–with the phraseology in one of them of “God the Creator” suggesting that “God” is a title of this inferior god, much like Marcion did much later after Simon and Paul. They agree that Simon believed himself to be a power, greater than the god who created the universe and to be, as this greater power, the Christ and the Standing One. They disagree over whether Simon believed himself to be the “supreme” power or an “exalted” power. My judgment is that the correct version is that he believed himself to be an “exalted” power. This is because, elsewhere in the Clementine literature, he is pictured as claiming that there is a supreme and unknowable power above even the Standing One.

Horned Moses

The epithet “Standing One” appears in several religious traditions in the Near East from Late Antiquity until the rise of Islam. The Standing One would denote one who “stands firm” in “existence” or “continuance” as a god-like quality.  Philo of Alexandria identifies those who are lovers of God as those who manage to penetrate the divine world, to approach God as “Standing Ones” like Moses and Abraham who are the archetypal “Standing Ones” since they communed with God face to face or intimately. Those who do so also share in God’s nature as immutable and changeless. The “Standing One” isn’t just limited to Simon, Dositheos or even Moses, but its an endearing term applied to God in Samaritan texts. The Tetragrammaton YHWH, if correctly translated, means “That which was, that which is, that which shall be.” This is much like the saying as found in the Great Declaration, “He stood, stand, is to stand”, as a reference of the divine spark or consciousness of being ever-present and eternal.

Jarl E. Fossum writes in The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord: Samaritan and Jewish Concepts of Inter-mediation and the Origin of Gnosticism:

When Moses ascended to heaven in order to receive the Law, he was invested with the Divine Name, which signifies the nature of the divine, and made into a divine or angelic being … In Memar Marqa, it is said that Moses “dwelt among the Standing Ones” (IV, 6). This position of Moses no doubt images him as the chief among the angels, God’s messengers. The hymn goes on to describe Moses as “the Elohim who is from mankind” (55,5). The divine names “Standing One” and “Elohim” were shared by the angels; and, since Moses is given the self-name names he obviously is elevated to the position of an angelic being, even the principal angel of God.

This description of Moses also sounds terribly close to how Enoch is transfigured into the Angel of the Lord, Metatron in Enochian literature. Of course, it goes without saying that this also matches in line with how Jesus achieves the resurrection in the Gospels. However, In Deuteronomy 34:5-6 the exact text reads:

“And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him[a] in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.

This alone does not suggest a bodily resurrection, and the Jews would probably have had little reason other than not finding his grave to suspect so. But then in Jude 9:

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

This revelation probably shed great light for the Jewish faithful on why no one found his body, which also foreshadows the empty tomb of Jesus in John 20. It is clear that the Samaritans held to a very strong tradition of Moses’ assumption and being snatched away at death which directly contradicts Deuteronomy. Before we go any further, let’s take a look at the next part of the Great Declaration:

Such is the law laid down by Moses, and it was on the pattern of that he wrote each of his books, as the titles tell. The first of them is Genesis, and this title in and of itself bespeaks the whole matter. For this Genesis denotes vision, one of the divisions of the river. For it is through sight that one perceives the creation. The second book has the title Exodus, for everyone who is born must travel through the Red Sea and across the wilderness, the red denoting blood, and taste the bitter water at Marah. This bitterness is that of the water beyond the Red Sea, referring to the painful, bitter path of learning we walk through life. But when it is transformed by Moses, really by the word, what was bitter becomes sweet. This is attested even by secular source, as witness the poet: “Its root was black, but the flower was like unto milk. Moly, the immortals name it. How hard for mortal to dig up, but the for the gods all is child’s play.” What the gentiles say here is enough to give knowledge of the whole thing as long as one has ears to hear. Whoever tasted of this fruit had the power to restore those so cursed. Regaining their proper shape, they were like a defaced coin melted down again and struck again according to the type. By the use of this fruit, as white as milk, one discovered the true man, beloved of the wizardress.

In the same way, the third book, Leviticus, concerns smelling or breathing since the entire context of the book is taken up with sacrifices and offerings. And inseparable from sacrificing is the ascending odor of the incense accompanying the sacrifice, and it is the olfactory sense that determines the propriety of the scent. Numbers, the fourth book, refers to taste, which is activated by speaking. The book receives its name from the listing of everything in numerical order.  But Deuteronomy, he says, is written in reference to the (sense of) touch possessed by the child that is being formed. For as touch, by seizing the things that are seen by the other senses, sums them up and ratifies them, testing what is rough, or warm, or clammy, (or cold); so the fifth book of the law constitutes a summary of the four books preceding this.

The Simonian author clearly has great respect for the first five books of the Torah, as this confirms G.R.S. Mead’s account of the Samaritians. There is also the application of the five physical senses with, again, the first five books of the Torah. Genesis is likened to vision, Exodus to taste, Leviticus to scent, Numbers to taste, while Deuteronomy refers to touch. As we’ve already seen, Eden was also taught as an allegory for the womb. This application of the Torah to the physiology to the human body isn’t exactly a unique invention.

According to the Church Father Hippolytus, the source of which we get the Great Declaration, another Gnostic sect, called the Naaseenes, also strongly emphasized the usage of allegory and symbolism, much like Simon. Accordingly, in Refutations of All Heresies V, IV, Hippolytus reports that in the Naaseene system, the Garden of Eden is actually the brain, and Paradise is the human head. The four rivers flowing out form Eden- Pishon applies to the eyes or vision, Gihon to hearing, Tigris to breathing and the Euphrates to the mouth. Hippolytus also claimed that the serpent who gave knowledge to Eve corresponded with the brain:

The form, however, of the brain is like the head of a serpent, respecting which a lengthened discussion is maintained by the professors of knowledge, falsely so named, as we shall prove.

This is comparable to Irenaeus’ report in Against Heresies (1.30) that the Valentinians believed that the serpent was “within us” in the form of the intestine!

Such are the opinions which prevail among these persons, by whom, like the Lernæan hydra, a many-headed beast has been generated from the school of Valentinus. For some of them assert that Sophia herself became the serpent; on which account she was hostile to the creator of Adam, and implanted knowledge inmen, for which reason the serpent was called wiser than all others. Moreover, by the position of our intestines, through which the food is conveyed, and by the fact that they possess such a figure, our internal configuration in the form of a serpent reveals our hidden generatrix.

Moreover, Hippolytus reported that the Valentinians believed that the spirit was immobile inside the cranium, and spread to the spinal cord through the pineal body. By the same path, semen reached the genital organs. Plato’s Timeaus also describes the shape and function of the brain, the medulla and sperm, as intended by the creator, who placed the divine man in the encephalon and the mortal soul in the medulla.

Plato taught that the rational soul or souls were split up in the brain, the spinal marrow and in the heart and liver (Timaeus, 44 D; 69 C-77B). The Red Sea in this passage also reflects on how the Naaseenes viewed it. Hippolytus reports that the Red Sea represented the work of generation or sexual desire between man and woman, while Egypt represented the human body as a whole:

This, he says, is ocean, “generation of gods and generation of men” ever whirled round by the eddies of water, at one time upwards, at another time downwards. But he says there ensues a generation of men when the ocean flows downwards; but when upwards to the wall and fortress and the cliff of Luecas, a generation of gods takes place. This, he asserts, is that which has been written: “I said, Ye are gods, and all children of the highest;” “If ye hasten to fly out of Egypt, and repair beyond the Red Sea into the wilderness,” that is, from earthly intercourse to the Jerusalem above, which is the mother of the living; “If, moreover, again you return into Egypt,” that is, into earthly intercourse, “ye shall die as men.” For mortal, he says, is every generation below, but immortal that which is begotten above, for it is born of water only, and of spirit, being spiritual, not carnal. But what (is born) below is carnal, that is, he says, what is written. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” This, according to them, is the spiritual generation. This, he says, is the great Jordan which, flowing on (here) below, and preventing the children of Israel from departing out of Egypt–I mean from terrestrial intercourse, for Egypt is with them the body,–Jesus drove back, and made it flow upwards.

The Red Sea is not only representative of the lust of the flesh and procreation but for also the daily life on Planet Earth in bodily flesh, in all its toils and hardships, “by the sweat of your brow” as ordered through a curse by the creator god against Adam (Genesis 3:19).  We’ve already covered the meaning of the River Jordan in Part 3, which is very similar, holding that John the Baptist was actually symbolic of the Demiurge, the womb and procreation. Of course, neither Simon or the Naasenes were the only ones to apply philosophy and allegory to the Old Testament. Philo of Alexandria dedicated several volumes of writings to this exegetic function alone, although Philo arrived to fundamentally different conclusions…

Philo of Alexandria made great pains to show the metaphysical and philosophical underpinnings of the Torah. His application of Platonic and Pythagorean concepts to Samaritian and Jewish scriptures would know doubt titillate other writers of that era, including Justin Martyr, who believed that Moses and the Israelites anticipated Egyptian mystery religion, as well as Plato and the Greek philosophers! It is debatable that Philo came before the New Testament and Gnostic literature as this seems more like an Orthodox fabrication.

In Part 5, we will get into Simon’s role as the docetic savior, his connection with with surrounding mystery traditions of Greece and Egypt, further evidence that links Dositheos and Simon Magus with the Sethian Gnostics and the possible Samaritan origin of the Eucharist. Until next time!

Announcement: Publishing News!

Enjoy the Apocalypse

Hello, dear readers. It’s been quite a while right? I recently finished this semester in my MA program and boy was it challenging, to the point where I had to cease all reading and writing outside of school. This explains why I haven’t been very active on this blog as of late. But, I am back with good tidings and big news! I recently signed up with Permuted Press for a three-book deal. The first book is set to come out April 2015, tentatively titled “Crimson Dusk” as well as its subsequent sequel which will come out sometime in 2016 or 2017. Hopefully sooner rather than later on that one. I’m still also steadily working on “Delta Heavy” at the moment, which is a science fiction/cyberpunk cop thriller with lots of Gnostic themes running around. I’ll be posting the blurbs for each novel, down below.

Besides that, I plan on writing some more content for this space over the course of the summer- although it will be sporadic as I am on a writing time-frame with my novels. I also might be creating a proper website that is more tailored to my fictional pursuits as an author hub and I will integrate this blog to it somehow. Anyway, I’ll be back soon enough in full-form at some point. In the mean-time, here are the blurbs to the novels I am working on. Have a great one!

CRIMSON DUSK: A new dark age of foreboding has been unleashed. The vampire nobility has risen from the ashes of the fallout from a previous devastating world war instigated by man and erected their own kingdom. Kalek Desmarais, a vampire noble and explorer has faced his mortality, numerous times, but his recent brush with death has left him in wave of dismay. His recent discovery of a long-previously hidden Necropolis which housed a sword of forbidden power, otherwise known as “Pandemonium” that was once said to belong to an ancient fallen archangel, Melcier-Adonin. The sword was forged from the dark heavens only to be rediscovered at a newly fated Armageddon. Against this backdrop is the fight between ruler against ruler, authority against authority. Servants of Melcier-Adonin are paving the way for his final resurrection. Few remain armed and watchful, wandering and steadfast, willing to give the acolytes of darkness, a baptism of blood on their pilgrimage for their redemption.

DELTA HEAVY: The year is 2079 in New Chicago, Illinois. When Darren Ramirez, a former Marine receives a call from a representative working for a biotech firm along with interests of the U.S. Government, his life is changed forever as he and a special forces unit that are sent to a remote archipelago called Cirrus off the coast of Spain. They are sent for an investigation of a corporate-controlled installation after a cessation of communication. There, they make a startling discovery regarding its classified projects involved in reviving an ancient, lost civilization and earth’s secret history. It’s up to Ramirez and his squadron to find the truth behind the mysterious cluster of islands, the experiments and the man responsible for the projects’ existence.