|Jesus and Simon Magus|
In this extract from my book Barbelo, the Story of Jesus Christ, I discuss the relationship between Jesus Christ (JC) and Simon Magus (SM), the Egyptian magician who parroted Christ in almost every respect. Simon Magus is an enigmatic character who appears mostly in apocryphal works, but is also mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. In the words of Clement,
And sometimes imitating that he is Christ, he styles himself the Standing One.…Instead of our Christ, he proclaims himself.
By comparing their statements and claims, their deeds and their personalities, my conclusion is that these two individuals must have been one and the same person. In fact, Hippolytus felt obliged to refute direct accusations that Christ and Simon Magus were the same person,
In this way we must think concerning Simon the Magician…let us endeavour to teach anew the parrots of Simon, that Christ, who stood, stands, and will stand, (that is, was, is, and is to come,) was not Simon.
Simon Magus was supposed to have appeared on the scene directly after the crucifixion and ascension of Christ. Curiously, though, the Pistis Sophia relates that Christ continued to teach his disciples for 11 years after his resurrection. This is also the premise of Barbelo, that Christ had survived his crucifixion and continued to instruct his disciples afterwards. Could Christ and Simon Magus have existed in parallel, both conversing with Christ’s disciples? Of course not.
1. Their sayings …
JC: I am the Alpha and the Omega … who is, and who was, and who is to come
SM: I am the Standing One … who stands, has stood, and will stand
JC: was born of a virgin
SM: ‘for before my mother Rachel and he came together, she, still a virgin, conceived
JC: created ‘all things in heaven and on earth … the heavens are the work of his hands’
SM: the universe had been originated by his angels
JC: instructed his disciples to baptise in his name
SM: ‘none could possibly have salvation without being baptised in his name’
JC: promised his followers eternal life
SM: ‘who that would believe in him, he would make them perpetual’
JC: taught that the sins of those who believe in him are forgiven, … who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age
SM: ‘taught that those who put their trust in him and his consort Helen, as being free, live
as they please; for men are saved through his grace’
JC: told the parable of the lost sheep
SM: referred to Helen as the lost sheep, on whose account he had descended to earth
JC: Nothing will be impossible for you
SM: that nothing to him was impossible
JC: for I came from God … those who were in the boat worshipped him
SM: he said that he should be worshipped of all men as God
JC: linked to the Father, who can do whatever he wants
SM: that he might do all that he would
JC: Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than what was sown
SM: I commanded the sickle to reap by itself alone, and it reaped ten times more than any other
JC: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
SM: I am the Word of God
JC: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one
SM: appeared in Samaria as the Father, in Judea as the Son, and amongst the heathen as the Holy Ghost
JC: The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being
SM: I am Almighty, I am all that is of God
JC: Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword
SM: And therefore desire no peace but battle
JC: multiplied loaves of bread to feed thousands
SM: I can … turn stones into bread
JC: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day
SM: command my head to be smitten off and I shall arise again the third day
2. The return from Egypt
4. Statues of Christ and Simon Magus
Both Christ and Simon Magus had the dubious honour of statues of them having been put on display by the authorities.
5. Confrontation with Simon Peter
In the Clementine texts, Simon Magus is depicted as being involved with Peter in lengthy arguments on a variety of religious topics. From the Gospels it is clear that Christ and Simon Peter often discussed or even argued about religion (Christ even referred to him as ‘Satan’), and Peter objected to Christ about Mary Magdalene’s domination of their discussions.
Bystanders would have remembered these presumably public discussions as having occurred between Simon Magus and Peter, while the disciples recorded them as between Christ and Peter.
6. Preaching on the slopes of the Mount of Olives
Both Christ and Simon Magus (Josephus’ Egyptian) preached to ‘common people’ on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.
7. Accused of being magicians
Christ and his followers were often accused of being magicians. Simon Magus’ name means Simon, the Magician. In Barbelo I show that Christ’s so-called miracles were nothing but carefully orchestrated illusions. Peter’s ‘miracle’ of the coin in the fish is the first trick any aspiring illusionist has to master.
8. Flew into the air
Simon Magus attempted to prove his divinity by flying up above the Forum, but the prayers of Peter and Paul caused him to fall down to the earth. Yeshu (Christ) and Judas Iscariot flew up towards the heavens, but both fell down after Judas had defiled Christ in mid-air.
According to the Talmud, Yeshu stole the shem (the letters of God’s Ineffable Name) from the Holy of Holies. Yeshu knew that the barking of the bronze dogs at the entrance would make him forget these letters, so he hid a parchment with the sacred letters written upon it inside a cut he had made into his hip. Once he had passed the dogs and their barking had wiped the letters from his memory, he reopened the cut, retrieved the parchment, and so remembered the letters, which he used to perform miracles. Simon Magus likewise ‘lost the words with which he was deceiving those who stood by’ when a dog with a human voice confronted him. Christ had indeed stormed the Temple with 310 of his men, looted all its holy objects, defiled the Holy of Holies and tore the temple curtain in half.
10. Rejected Jerusalem
Simon Magus rejected Jerusalem, as did Christ.
11. Heresies and sexual conduct
Simon Magus and his followers were accused of excessive baseness and lewdness. Various Christian sects were known for their sexual depravity and the Gnostics claimed that Christ himself had revealed those obscenities to them.
12. Brought magic from Egypt, knowledge of Greek (remote) culture
JC: Accusation brought against Christ: “Jesus was a Magician. He effected all these things by secret arts. From the shrines of the Egyptians He stole the names of the angels of might, and the religious system of a remote country.” Ben Stada (Christ) brought his magic from Egypt.
SM: During a stay in Egypt, he acquired a large measure of Greek culture and attained to an extensive knowledge of magic and ability in it.
Simon Magus was a ‘most vehement orator, trained in the dialectic art,’ matching Christ’s ability to entertain crowds.14. A subtle clue in his name
Why was Simon Peter renamed to Cephas? Most likely because Simon Magus had become irritated by the constant confusion as to which one of him or Simon Peter was being addressed.
In Chapter 7 of Barbelo I discuss the likelihood that Christ had adopted the alias Paul of Tarsus following his staged crucifixion. Some scholars have already identified Simon Magus with Paul, who was, in fact, Jesus Christ. Possibly the most unambiguous proof that these three names belonged to the same person is presented by the accusations brought against the Templar Knights (Chapter 8), that they had worshipped an idol in the form of a severed head with three faces. Christian legend relates that Paul was beheaded, and for what other conceivable reason would anyone have claimed that the head had three faces?