2007-01-13

Simon of Cyrene & Simon Magus — revised (24th jan 07)

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by Neil Godfrey

I doubt it is possible to ever know the origins of Christianity. Another little intriguing “mystery” is the potential identification at some point of Simon of Cyrene and Simon Magus.

Irenaeus informs readers that Simon Magus taught that he had appeared in Judea and appeared to suffer crucifixion. The Catholic Encyclopedia’s online article on Docetism:

Simon Magus first spoke of a “putative passion of Christ and blasphemously asserted that it was really he, Simon himself, who underwent these apparent sufferings. “As the angels governed this world badly because each angel coveted the principality for himself he [Simon] came to improve matters, and was transfigured and rendered like unto the Virtues and Powers and Angels, so that he appeared amongst men as man though he was no man and was believed to have suffered in Judea though he had not suffered” (passum in Judea putatum cum non esset passus — Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I, xxiii sqq.)

Irenaeus also informs readers that some Christians taught that it was Simon of Cyrene who in fact suffered crucifixion in Christ’s stead. Again, the Catholic Encyclopedia’s online article on Docetism:

According to Basilides, Christ seemed to men to be a man and to have performed miracles. It was not, however, Christ, who suffered but Simon of Cyrenes who was constrained to carry the cross and was mistakenly crucified in Christ’s stead. Simon having received Jesus’ form, Jesus returned Simon’s and thus stood by and laughed. Simon was crucified and Jesus returned to his father (Irenaeus, Adv. Char., 1, xxiv).

Robert Price in The Pre-Nicene New Testament observes that:

  • Simon of Cyrene was Phoenician
  • Simon Magus was from Gitta (=Gath, Goliath’s hometown) of Phoenicia (0r Samaria)
  • Phoenicia was called Kittim (easily confused with Gitta)
  • The synoptic gospels narrate that Simon of Cyrene carried Christ’s cross

The Gospel of Mark is often ambiguous in its narration and its account of who it was who was crucified is no less so to the attentive reader:

Now they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear his cross. And they brought him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. Then they gave him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but he did not take it. And when they crucified him . . . . (Mark 15:21-24)

The Gospel of John of course removes any room for ambiguity by insisting that Jesus carries his own cross! (19.17)


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  • Priscilla
    2009-01-04 11:47:52 GMT+0000 - 11:47 | Permalink

    the plot thickens! Simon bar jona is the rock the spiritual Father of Jesus/Alexander and Red. Hmmm…so Simon the Cyrene, Simon Magus and Simon Bar Jona are Simon Peter. This does make sense especially in light of 1 Corinthians 1: 12 and 1 Corinthians 3: 22

  • 2009-12-31 13:08:09 GMT+0000 - 13:08 | Permalink

    I am writing a novel on the life of Simon Magus, in which I have indeed identified the two Simons. If you are interested, see http://www.simonmagus.com.

  • Evan
    2011-04-16 08:21:13 GMT+0000 - 08:21 | Permalink

    This is interesting also in the light of Galatians 2:20.

  • 2011-04-16 19:05:42 GMT+0000 - 19:05 | Permalink

    It’s nothing more than a thought, but one might wonder if the story of the name change from Simon to Peter bears any relation to Peter representing a departure from or replacement of the Simon Magus cult.

  • craig
    2012-08-05 02:26:35 GMT+0000 - 02:26 | Permalink

    No Priscilla, Simon Peter isn’t Simon Magus, Paul is Simon Magus/Simon of Cyrene, and Simon Bar Gamaliel. “Simon” is just an eptitaph that religious disciples take, and “Simon Peter” was simply “Simon ben Jona” (i.e a follower of John the Baptist, not the literal “son” of a person named John), just as Saul/Paul was the “Simon” of his teacher: Gamaliel. Paul was a Balaam type prophet whose tongue was turned by God, such that his attempted blasphemy was prophecy: as the Lord so often uses the opponents of his people as prophets. Consider how Paul claims to have suffered all things for Christ: this is Simon of Cyrene, Simon Magus: the pro-Roman, pro-Imperial priest of Ba’al, from one of the major centers of Ba’al worship in Cilicia/Syria (Tarsus- named after Ba’al, “i.e. the bull calf of Utu/Heaven” that is the latanized “Taurus,” from which we derive Tarsus- the seat of the Taurus Mountain range). This priestcult of Ba’al had married into the Hasmoneans of Judea and the Roman Emperors from Leptis Magna in Libya (later this alliance would produce the famous marriage of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna, for example, see also the Maccabees and later Pharisees). Simon Magus wasn’t from Cyrene, nor was he likely from Tarsus, just as he wasn’t necessarily “from Jerusalem:” but rather rose to international fame from all three locations: from Cyrene as an indication of his royal bloodline The other famous locale associated with Simon Magus/Paul is, of course, Antioch. Another reference to the truth of Paul’s identity is the misdated and garbled remebrances of “Paul of Samosata” and “Lucian of Samasota,” references to Paul and Luke both being of royal Ba’al priestcult descent, through the capital of Commagene (i.e. the seat of the Cain/Luciferian bloodline), Samosata. Paul is “the liar” of the Clementine literature: consider how often Paul claims that “I lie not.” Paul is also the first Pope: he authored the heresies of Marcionism, Gnosticism, and in general attempted to lead the Lord’s chosen away from the Law of God: just as Balaam, unable to utter anything but prophecy, had to physically send prostitutes into Israel for the purpose of leading them away from the Law of the Covenant.

    Read Galatians. Paul is constantly lying and boasting, always disregarding the Law of the Covenant, the commandment to love god with all your heart, and the apostles. Paul was Simon Magus, the famous priestking centered in the pro-Roman province of “Syria,” while Rome was at war with the Christian Church at Jerusalem: which had exploded with converts after Pentacost. Many non-believing jews moved away to Narbonne with the Exilarch of Israel, the Roman nasi, abandoning it’s people and leaving the holy land. The Romans repeatedly destroyed Jerusalem because it was the center of the church, originally led by James. But Paul, as the nasi (the official recognized patriarch of the Hasmonean Jews, as recognized by Imperial Rome) had great experience killing the leaders of the Church of Jerusalem, and was opposed to it because they did not accept his money. During the prosecution of the “poor” at “Jerusalem” (i.e. the Ebionites, the “poor,” the apostolic church at Jerusalem) Paul went around the rich locales of the Roman provinces surrounding Judea, chiefly Syria and Pamphylia, collecting donations “for the poor” and offering a “service to Jerusalem.” Paul himself says he had not yet been to Jerusalem (see Galatians, contradicting Acts) and that after his conversion, he spent 13 years in ministry before the Council of Jerusalem.

    Paul never talks about Jesus of Nazareth, but instead is always talking about the Christ, consistent with the gnostic teachings of Basildes regarding the spiritual nature of Christ. Paul almost never quotes Christ, and when he does so, he misquotes christ, for example saying that all the commandments are summed up as loving your neighbor as yourself. Quite to the contrary, the Lord Jesus said the first and greatest law is to love the God with all your heart, and also said that if you love God, follow his commandments. Paul says only to love other people, as Paul always disrespects obedience to the law, even though Jesus said that this was the manner to show love. Paul is often lying too, that is why he is called “the liar.” For instance, in his Galatians version of the Council of Jerusalem, he says that the consensus of the meeting is that the law would not be applied to the Gentiles, only that they remember the poor (i.e. give money to Jerusalem- a claim Paul/Simon Magus is deceitfully making). In reality, as Acts records, the Church of Jerusalem instructed Paul that Gentiles were to at least abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from meat of strangled animals and from blood (i.e. most food in the Empire), until the Gentiles learn the laws of Moses from the Synagogues. Paul’s dispute with Peter about eating common foods is again quite famous. Note how in Galatians Paul leaves out all of these decisions regarding food by the Council of Jerusalem. Consider also Paul’s crazy boasting: “concerning the law, blameless.” “Blameless!?!?!?!” Paul is an enigma, contradicting himself all over the place- just like us, God love him- as he often oscilates on many matters, including the law. Please check over Philippians, wherein Paul boasts that he, more than any other man in the world, has the greatest reason to argue that he is justified by the Law, because he is blameless before the law:

    ” If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” Philippians 3:4-6. What a crazy bunch of lying, boasting nonsense, huh? Way to brag about being a Pharisee and persecuting the Church Paul 🙂 Geez. The fact that he couples these odd boasts about being a Pharisee and persecuting the church with his absurdly and obviously untrue boast about being blameless before the law is a dead giveaway that this is not truth, but rather like the apostasy of Solomon evidence in Ecclesiastes (eat drink and be merry), Paul’s wrestling with God is preserved in the scriptures as inspired words, like Balaams.

    After collecting this “gift” of Mammon for Jerusalem, which was under siege by the Romans, Paul sought to meet Peter in Antioch, and Peter came up to Antioch. Paul there offered Peter the money as a quip pro quo, likely as a delegate on behalf of the Romans and Queen Helena of Abeidene (see the Roman myths of Simon Magus and Queen Helena “of Troy” or “of Tyre”) Simon Peter the rock rejected this offer, saying (perhaps too harshly) “Thy money perish with thee.” Thus, as the scriptures record, Paul’s “gift” was rejected by the Church of Jerusalem. Paul would later promote the doctrine that ministers of the gospel out to be paid with Mammon, despite the Lord’s teachings on working for money versus working for God. Paul/Simon Magus would forever be remembered in relation to inappropriately mixing money and the priesthood: and the Vatican, the creation of the Roman Paul/Simon Magus, is a testament to Paul’s shortcoming.

    Thankfully, Paul repented and came to Christ. Acts tells us that Paul/Simon Magus repented and asked Peter to pray that his curse on Paul would not come true. Paul is very much like David, or Moses, or even Peter in many regards. Some of the history has been obscurd about Paul’s shortcomings, but he is a prophet of God nonetheless, having had his tongue turned during a vision while travelling to persecute the Lord’s chosen people on the road East of the Jordan.

    Many people may think that it is “disrespectful” or “anti-scriptural” to note these truths about Paul/.Simon Magus, but to them I would say, please check the scripture, and also please consider this:
    (1) Revelations is clear about Rome hijacking the Church;
    (2) History is clear that Rome certainly did hijack the Church, perverting it with Ba’al/lucifer/mithra doctrines
    (3) Whenever one Imperial institution hijacks a smaller grassroots institution, it tends to retroactively unite the hijacking leader with the leader of the oppressed institution: does not Rome celebrate the martyrdom of Paul and Peter on the same day, even though Peter never went to Rome but was instead in Babylon Egypt with John?

    Consider living in the times of Jesus, with the Hasmoneans claiming lordship over the land and the temple. Consider the possibility that, under the Pharisees, the crimes of the Israeli kings were minimized, obscured, or considered scandalous: so as to aggrandize the pious nature of the office of the ruler of Judea. Accordingly, when political institutions obscure the scriptures, or at least use Imperial theological think tanks, like the Pharisees, to enforce Imperial dogma: oftentimes the shortcomings of dynamic patrons are minimized or obscured. Thus, one might imagine that Jews in the time of Jesus considered it scandalous to say that David was a murder, like Moses also, and that they had both worshiped Pagan gods, and that both had caused Israel to stumble and were punished by God. All of these facts are true, to some extent, but they all serve the glory of God, because of the majesty that the Lord was able to work, both through the virtues of these men, and also through their sins. Consider, though David murdered Uriah and committed adultery with Bathsheba, it was through this line that the Christ came to save the world. So to is the repentance and faith of Paul a testament to the wonders and glory of God, and also a sign for us, so that we can reflect on our own hypocrisy. Isn’t that the great thing about Paul, that enigmatic man of God and the World, who murdered and lied and fought with the apostles, but was dragged to prophecy and grace by the Lord’s never failing mercy? Isn’t that why we love Paul, as a fellow sinner and “wretched man,” who- just like us- does what he hates, refuses to do what he ought to, and thus insults and rejects the Lord to spite himself- though pressing on to salvation? Yes, that is Paul, much like the famous tools of the Lord, Moses, David, or even Nebuchadnezzar: all terrible sinners, the chief enemies of the people of God (as Paul admits he was), held captive by God’s plan. “Paul” means “smallest or least,” and indeed, Paul may have meant this as a boast, as if to augment his claim that he was greater than the apostles “who seemed to be something” because he was the last (paraclete) and least (as the chief enemy of God’s people) apostle.

  • craig
    2012-08-05 02:28:49 GMT+0000 - 02:28 | Permalink

    Yes, good point Evan, it is Paul who claims to be crucified, having suffered “all things for Christ.”

    “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal 2:20

    Paul then immediately bashes the law and breaches his “by faith alone” doctrine, which James and the Church of Jerusalem rebuke through the Epistle of James.

  • 2013-03-11 13:20:58 GMT+0000 - 13:20 | Permalink

    I’m actually completing a novel, The Acts of Simon Magus, will clarify all these questions 🙂 It’s an epic historical fantasy which explores the roots of the original Gnosticism through the eyes of its notorious founder, while examining the events and characters responsible for the rise of Christianity from a unique perspective. Peter, Paul, Jesus, Nero, Ishtar, Azathoth and many more play their roles in the tale. And the question asked here is answered. Here is a draft for my upcoming Indiegogo campaign, including video and link to some readings. All comments welcome! http://simonmagus.com/indiegogo http://simonmagus.com/readings-2

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