Tag Archives: Hermann Detering

Three New(ish) Things

New on René Salm’s site:

The Hermann Detering Legacy—Introduction

I have decided to devote part of this website to a repository of Dr. Detering’s work, particularly his articles that have been translated into English. Not all of that material is to be found on his German website, and the success and extent of this undertaking will depend in some measure on the help of readers who are able to furnish material or clues to other of his writings. . . .


Newish on Richard Carrier’s site, the same topic as covered earlier in half dozen or so reviews of Gathercole’s article on this blog:

The New Gathercole Article on Jesus Certainly Existing

Simon Gathercole gained infamy writing a really atrocious, face-palmingly bad article on the historicity of Jesus for The Guardian some years back. Which I took to task in 2017 (in The Guardian on Jesus). He has now published a proper, peer reviewed article on the subject, focused on the Epistles of Paul . . . .

Of course right out of the gate this confuses “historical” with “human.”


And something important:

Can America recover from Trump? A radicalized right wing suggests dangers ahead

. . . . Imagine if Trump was a brilliant, learned leader committed to the enactment of a consistent agenda; a man who could summon considerable skill and savvy, not merely to promote himself but to fundamentally transform American law and reinvent the relationship between the federal government and its citizenry. As candidate and president, Trump has already demolished standards of civility, worsened the racial and ethnic fractures of the American public, and reduced the Republican Party to a slobbering set of sycophants. And he has done all of this by barely lifting a finger. The true danger might emerge when Trump slithers into the sunset, and his enraged and frenzied loyalists, who now control the infrastructure of one of America’s two major political parties, are looking for a replacement and find the real thing. . . .


Hermann Detering – Future of his work?

There’s a lot covered in René Salm’s second part on Hermann Detering: In memoriam: Dr. Hermann Detering—Pt. 2

Some of his last personal correspondence; discussions of the future of his work with respect to preservation, publication, . . .


Vridar’s first post on a Hermann Detering work was in February 2007:

Little Apocalypse and the Bar Kochba Revolt

The next “mention” of Hermann Detering was subtle. It was hidden as a link in the last sentence — But that leads us to a new set of questions about dates and identities that will have to be addressed another time — of the post When did Peter first see the resurrected Jesus?

In May, 2011 I posted:

Another Possible Interpolation Conceded by Historicists of Old (and a question of heavenly trees)

A point I made in the main post was supplemented in the comments with further detail.

In January 2012 I included Hermann Detering as a scholar who proposed a different view from the one I was posting:

Couchoud on Acts of the Apostles

In the same month and year we looked at the relationship between Detering, Couchoud’s and Parvus’s views:

Paul’s Letter to the Romans – the creation of the canonical edition according to Couchoud

A day later we continued the same discussion:

Epistle to the Galatians — Couchoud’s view

February 2012 we discussed John the Baptist and included Hermann Detering’s views:

Was Jesus “John the Baptist”?

July 2012 Detering was listed as presenting a significant explanation that was ignored by a “hostile witness”:

Reply to Hoffmann’s “On Not Explaining ‘Born of a Woman’”

August 2012, we pointed out a significant point about Marcion’s editions of Paul’s letters that had been pointed out by Hermann Detering:

Is Paul the Beloved Disciple?

I included a Hermann Detering title in an “interesting books” list, November 2012:

Some interesting book titles

September 2013, Roger Parvus acknowledged his debt to Hermann Detering:

A Simonian Origin for Christianity, Part 1

April 2014, Hermann Detering was added to the team of witnesses refuting aspersions cast by Maurice Casey:

Maurice Casey’s Failure to Research Mythicists — More Evidence

June, 2014, I was able to link Hermann Detering’s view of a passage in Romans to an early attempt to refute the Christ Myth theory:

“It is absurd to suggest. . . . ” (A rare bird among the anti-mythicists)

February 2015, an occasion to revise the same point:

Jesus the Seed of David: One More Case for Interpolation

March 2015: Notes on a Facebook post by Hermann Detering about a “coming out” clergyman

Mythicism Making Christianity More Meaningful

A link to Rene Salm’s translation of a review by Hermann Detering, May 2016

Hermann Detering’s Review of Lena Einhorn’s “Shift in Time” Part 2

Another link to a translation of Rene Salm’s page of another review by Hermann Detering: June 2016

Hermann Detering, Richard Carrier and the Apostle Paul

A few days later another link to Rene Salm’s site in which Hermann Detering argues strongly against Richard Carrier:

Hermann Detering confronts Richard Carrier—Part 3

October 2017, our first signs of what appears to have been Hermann Detering’s last major work:

The Gnostic Interpretation of the Exodus and the Beginnings of the Joshua/Jesus Cult — Hermann Detering

April 2018, continuing after a tense wait . . .

Hermann Detering on the place of Gnosticism and Buddhism in Jesus Cult Origins

Gnostic Interpretation of Exodus and Beginnings of the Joshua/Jesus Cult

Crossing the water: Comparing Buddhist and Christian imagery

August 2018, a commentary by Rene Salm on “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus and the Beginning of the Joshua/Jesus Cult” —

Hermann Detering and Robert M. Price

September 2018, an updated revision of one of his works:

New (revised) paper by Hermann Detering: Odes of Solomon and Basilides

October 2018 I discovered Hermann Detering along with Parvus and Price had not been alone on a critical point:

Enticed by a great quote & surprised by an unexpected “mythicist”

Same month, another commentary by Rene Salm:

The Detering Commentaries: Christian Origins, Joshua, Gnosticism and Buddhism

Later in October 2018, Detering is listed with 12 other witnesses standing against another facile claim:

A constructive exchange with Tim O’Neill on the question of the historicity of Jesus

Response #1 to the Non Sequitur program with Tim O’Neill: MOTIVES

Last mention, November 2018, a month after he died, it appears

Mythicist Papers: Resources for the Study of Christian Origins – Update

And in case you missed it, earlier today:

Very sad news


I corresponded from time to time with him. He once sent me a book and I returned the favour with a token gift. He was always a part of my thinking on any biblical or Christian origin question. And of course through our personal correspondence I often wondered and thought about what he was like, and, from all I could tell, I liked him a lot. I’ll miss him.



Very sad news

In memoriam: Dr. Hermann Detering—Pt. 1


The Detering Commentaries: Christian Origins, Joshua, Gnosticism and Buddhism

René Salm has concluded his series of Hermann Detering Commentaries:

Dr. Hermann Detering

“The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus and the Beginning of the Joshua/Jesus Cult” (2018)

Commentary by René Salm

This extensive series of posts explores literary, religious, and historical links between Buddhism and Christian origins.

It argues that Christianity emerged from a gnostic substratum,
and that the figure Jesus of Nazareth and the New Testament gospels
are second century CE developments.


René Salm quotes Hermann Detering’s overall conclusion:

Beginning with the gnostic interpretation of the Exodus motif and the question of its origin, we have arrived at an element of critical importance: the metaphor of transcendence, expressed figuratively as [reaching] the “other shore”—which plays a central role in Indian/Buddhist spirituality. The question of where the two trajectories intersect—Jewish tradition/Hebrew Bible on the one hand, and Buddhist/Indian spirituality on the other—led us to the Therapeutae, about whom Philo of Alexandria reports in his De Vita Contemplativa.

Once the Buddhist origin of the Therapeutae is seen as plausible, it can be shown that their central mystery consisted of an interpretation of the Exodus, an interpretation based upon Buddhist sources. This interpretation, in turn, was the seed of the Christian sacrament of baptism. Early Christian gnostics, such as the Peratae and the Naassenes, transferred to Moses’ successor Joshua what the Therapeutae (more strongly rooted in Jewish tradition) maintained for Moses. The old cult of Moses would be surpassed by the new, Gnostic-Christian cult of Joshua. The counterpart of Moses became Jesus/Joshua.

Seen in this light, the “historical” Jesus, that is, Jesus of Nazareth, was hypostatized in the second century of our era out of the Old Testament Joshua. The Christian savior Joshua/Jesus is nothing other than the result of Jewish-Buddhist exegesis of the Old Testament.

I have read in translation much of Hermann Detering’s article. I look forward to being able to devote the time and energy that a proper assessment of his argument requires.

Hermann Detering and Robert M. Price

René Salm has so far compiled 26 web pages addressing Hermann Detering’s “new” argument for Christian origins involving influences from the East:

Dr. Hermann Detering

“The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus and the Beginning of the Joshua/Jesus Cult” (2018)

Commentary by René Salm

This extensive series of posts explores literary, religious, and historical links between Buddhism and Christian origins.
It argues that Christianity emerged from a gnostic substratum,
and that the figure Jesus of Nazareth and the New Testament gospels
are second century CE developments.

I have not caught up with all of these yet but look forward to doing so.


And I see that the prolific Robert M. Price has a new book out:

Bart Ehrman interpreted : how one radical New Testament scholar understands another

I bought the kindle edition and, as usual with a RMP book, found it very easy to read. I think many would be eager to see Ehrman respond in some detail but I suspect anything from that quarter will fall short of engagement in debate.



Gnostic Interpretation of Exodus and Beginnings of the Joshua/Jesus Cult


Recall that Hermann Detering was a work out about the gnostic interpretation of the Exodus and the beginnings of the Joshua/Jesus cult. See my earlier posts:

Since then René has posted a second installment. Meanwhile, on Hermann Detering’s page we see that a translation by Stuart Waugh is due to be “published soon”.

Here I set out my own notes from the first part of the work. I don’t read German except through machine translators, alas, so if anyone who has read the German original can see I have misstated something do let me know.

Gnostic Interpretation of the Exodus


The earliest Jewish allegorical interpreter of the Exodus is Philo of Alexandria, Egypt, in the first century CE. In Philo’s Allegorical Interpretations II we see that Philo interpreted Egypt as a life of pleasure, a symbol of physical passions, in contrast to the wilderness, representing the spiritual life of the ascetic.

But notice that Philo extends his allegory of the exodus from Egypt to the wilderness by inclusion of the crossing of the Jordan River, apparently conflating this event with Moses’ (not Joshua’s) leadership.

Therefore, God asks of the wise Moses what there is in the practical life of his soul; for the hand is the symbol of action. And he answers, Instruction, which he calls a rod. On which account Jacob the supplanter of the passions, says, “For in my staff did I pass over this Jordan.” {Genesis 32:10.} But Jordan being interpreted means descent. And of the lower, and earthly, and perishable nature, vice and passion are component parts; and the mind of the ascetic passes over them in the course of its education. For it is too low a notion to explain his saying literally; as if it meant that he crossed the river, holding his staff in his hand.

The passage through the Red Sea is symbolic of the transition from the worldly to the spiritual life.

The Therapeutae read more »

Hermann Detering on the place of Gnosticism and Buddhism in Jesus Cult Origins

Recall a post now six months old: The Gnostic Interpretation of the Exodus and the Beginnings of the Joshua/Jesus Cult — Hermann Detering

René Salm has begun a commentary series on Detering’s article. See

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 1)

I look forward to doing my own discussions of Detering’s views as a result of a reader very generously working on an English translation in association with Dr Detering himself.


The Gnostic Interpretation of the Exodus and the Beginnings of the Joshua/Jesus Cult — Hermann Detering

Hermann Detering has a new essay (70 pages in PDF format) that will be of interest to many Vridar readers — at least for those of you who can read German. In English the title is The Gnostic Interpretation of the Exodus and the Beginnings of the Joshua/Jesus Cult. 

See his RadikalKritik blog:


The work begins with reference to Philo’s allegorical interpretation of the Exodus and concludes with references to Buddhism. . . .

5 Zusammenfassung

Ausgehend von der gnostischen Interpretation des Exodus-Motivs und der Frage ihrer religionsgeschichtlichen Herkunft stießen wir auf die zentrale Bedeutung des als Transzendenzmetapher gebrauchten Bildes vom „anderen Ufer“, das in der indischen/buddhistischen Spiritualität eine erhebliche Rolle spielt. Die Frage, wo die beiden Linien, jüdische Tradition und hebräische Bibel einerseits, buddhistische bzw. indische Spiritualität andererseits, konvergieren, führte uns zu den Therapeuten, über die Philo von Alexandrien in seiner Schrift De Vita Contemplativa berichtet.

Nachdem die buddhistische Herkunft der Therapeuten plausibel gemacht wurde, konnte gezeigt werden, dass ihrem zentralen Mysterium eine auf buddhistische Quellen zurückgehende Deutung des Exodusmotivs zugrundeliegt. Diese Deutung enthält zugleich den Keim für das christliche Taufsakrament. Frühe christliche Gnostiker wie Peraten und Naassener übertrugen auf den Nachfolger des Mose, Josua, was bei den stärker in der jüdischen Tradition verwurzelten Therapeuten Mose vorbehalten blieb. Der alte Mosaismus sollte durch den neuen, gnostisch-christlichen Josuanismus überboten werden. Jesus/Josua wurde zum Gegenbild des Mose.

Der christliche Erlöser Josua/Jesus ist so gesehen nichts anderes als – ein Ergebnis der jüdisch-buddhistischen Exegese des Alten Testaments! Der „geschichtliche“ Jesus, d.h. Jesus von Nazaret, wurde im Laufe des 2. Jahrhunderts aus dem Bild des alttestamentlichen Josua heraushypostasiert. 

Translators . . . . Where are you? We need you now!



Hermann Detering confronts Richard Carrier—Part 3

H. Detering confronts R. Carrier—Pt. 3

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 3.47.01 am

Let us call a spade a spade: Carrier may be an expert on the natural philosophers of the Early Roman Empire, but he is certainly not an expert on Paul. — H.D.

Detering Responds to Carrier, Part 2

Click on the image below to be taken to Part 2:




Hermann Detering, Richard Carrier and the Apostle Paul

Paul, Mark, and other substitutions:

Richard Carrier on The Fabricated Paul

by Dr. Hermann Detering

Edited and translated by René Salm


Or you can read the original German language version on Herman Detering’s site:

Paulus, Markus und andere Verwechslungen – Richard Carrier über den Gefälschten Paulus


A Simonian Origin for Christianity, Part 1


A Vridar reader, Chris S, recently expressed interest in my hypothesis that Christianity was Simonian in origin but pointed out that it would be helpful to have it laid out systematically in a post or series of posts. As it is, my proposals are scattered among random posts and comment threads. So this series will provide an overview of the hypothesis. I will first summarize the main ideas and then briefly defend them and show how they fit together.


A Simonian Origin for Christianity


Status of the Hypothesis

I want to acknowledge up front that my hypothesis is not completely original. It builds on the identification of Paul as a reworked Simon of Samaria that has been argued by Hermann Detering in his The Falsified Paul and by Robert M. Price in his The Amazing Colossal Apostle.

And I want to be clear that my hypothesis is still a work in progress. There is much that I continue to mull over and much that needs to be added. I am aware too that it is speculative. But, as I see it, one of its strengths is that it draws from the earliest extant descriptions of the internal quarrels that plagued Christianity at its birth and can plausibly account for a remarkable number of the peculiarities in those records.


State of the Evidence: The Problem

The proto-orthodox claimed that their brand of Christianity was the original, and that their earliest Christian competitor, Simon, was the first who corrupted it. But there are good reasons to doubt their veracity. Their many known forgeries, false attributions, fabrications, plagiarisms, and falsifications are acknowledged even by mainstream scholars (see Bart Ehrman’s Forged for examples). Their one canonical attempt to write an account of primitive Christianity—the Acts of the Apostles—fails miserably to convince. It is widely recognized that its description of Paul and his relationship to the Jerusalem church is a deliberate misrepresentation.


The proto-orthodox claim to unbroken continuity with the Jerusalem church doesn’t add up. . .

Did the proto-orthodox have no one to stand up to Simon’s successors between 70 and 140 CE?

They concede a continuous line of succession for heresy . . . yet are at a loss to tell us who prior to Justin undertook to refute those heretics.

And their claim to unbroken continuity with the Jerusalem church doesn’t add up.

If they were in existence earlier than the 130s, why is Justin their first known heresy-hunter? Justin names no predecessor for that function in the generation before him. Nor do Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Hippolytus. Did the proto-orthodox have no one to stand up to Simon’s successors between 70 and 140 CE? They concede a continuous line of succession for heresy (Simon, Menander, Basilides and Satornilus), yet are at a loss to tell us who prior to Justin undertook to refute those heretics.


The Question to Investigate

So I think it is entirely justifiable to question whether the proto-orthodox were in fact the first Christians. Basically, what I am doing is taking the few bits of information they let slip about Simon of Samaria, and seeing whether the birth of Christianity makes more sense with him as its founder.

I am investigating whether it makes more sense to see proto-orthodoxy as a second-century reaction to a first-century Simonianism that had grown, developed, and branched out.


The Hypothesis

In summary form my hypothesis is this: read more »

Authenticity of Paul’s letters: Holding versus Detering

I recently posted reasons to question the Pauline authorship of Galatians, which was a distillation of Detering’s challenges. Since some fundamentalists prefer J. P. Holding’s arguments against these challenges, am posting these little ripostes:

Holding 1:

Detering seems to be under the impression that where Paul offers his credentials (eg, “an apostle”) this somehow could indicate that someone else wrote the letter. He claims (with no documentation, other than quoting a single such greeting from a letter, “Cicero greets Atticus”) that the greetings employed by Greeks and Romans were “very unpretentious.” Not that, again, Detering provides examples, much less examples of letters from a person in authority to a person or persons under them. Oddly enough, we find here no comment from a classical scholar about Paul’s greeting in Philippians being more “pretentious” than that of the one Detering uses as an example. Much less does Detering quote any authority that regards Paul’s openings as unusual; it’s the usual case in higher criticism of inventing a problem out of whole cloth.

Either Holding is simply not familiar with ancient letters or assumes his audience would not be familiar with them or both. Anyone who is familiar with ancient letters knows that the example Detering provides is quite sufficient to jog their memories.

It appears Holding has no interest in checking the evidence for himself, but complains that Detering does not quote an authority to support his claim. No doubt an argument from authority comes easily to one who argues on the authority of God. I don’t know if this could be attributed to laziness or fear of what he might find if he checked all the other letters in a collection of Cicero or Pliny. Or any of the fictional letters that set themselves the task of convincing readers of their plausible authenticity and to this end contained the same unpretentious introductions.

Holding’s hyperlink at “here” points to a classical scholar who does not remark on the unusualness of Paul’s letters. I clicked on that link to be taken to a classicist’s email discussion relating indirectly to the matter. So I googled that classicist’s name and university, found his homepage in one shot, and lo and behold, there in its left hand margin is a nice bright golden crucifix link that takes one to that classicist’s homepage of zillions of bible-study tools. So much for Holding attempting to give the impression he was appealing to “the authority” of an umpire with no conflict of interest.

In fact, Paul’s assertions of his credentials make perfect sense in an honor-based culture, given Paul’s unusual situation as one whose authority was a question mark at times;

Okay, so Paul was the only one who wrote letters from an unusual situation in that culture? Paul’s situation was so unique that he was the only one to use the letter’s introduction to argue a controversial point?

There are other contextual reasons for the length in these cases: matters of identity and honor, and the insertion of Christological material, for example, which would not apply to something like “Cicero greets Atticus

Yes, the honor based culture thing again. Didn’t Paul pass on Christ’s teaching to come out of the world’s ways and follow humility? But of course it is surely obvious that Holding is arguing in a circle here. He is simply repeating the contents of the introductions as if that is sufficient to explain why the introductions contained such material in the first place.

Holding 2:

Detering also makes some rather silly remarks, such as commenting on Gal. 1:1, “to the churches in Galatia,” saying, “The poor letter-carrier!” Yes, I’m quite sure the experience was unbearable, but despite Detering’s ignorant sarcasm, people had ways of getting letters around: For example, you looked around for someone heading out the same way as the letter’s destination, or hired a messenger, or got a slave to carry it. Then again, if Detering thinks one person carrying a letter around Galatia may have been a hardship, I suppose he thinks that no one in antiquity ever got up from their seats. . . .

Holding appears not to have comprehended Detering’s argument. It was all about the vagueness of the addressees. Holding completely ignores this, the only point Detering was discussing.

Holding 3:

But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person) Detering blows his stack over the use of “were,” supposing it means the apostles in question were dead, so this means this was written well past Paul’s time. It’s funny how a forger this clever can miss such an obvious point, but it’s the usual case of overblow we get from the radical criticism school: Contextually, “were” just as well refers to former positions of status within a community (such as, “I used to be the top student under this rabbi”).

Oh dear, Holding must have been writing this late at night. He completely fails to see that he (Holding) is actually arguing that the author of the letter of Galatians believes that Peter, James and John were only apostles by a “former status” within the Jerusalem community. So what had changed by the time the letter was written for the author to say they “were” of this status?

It’s “funny how” Holding, in his own words, so “clever, can miss such an obvious point”.

Holding 4:

Gal. 6:11: See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Detering goes gaga over this, wondering why Paul wants to guard against falsification of letters in his own lifetime. As before, Detering seems to be the only person who thinks this would not happen; as if indeed forgers only worked with dead people, which is obviously true today. That said, more informed scholars like Witherington (Galatians commentary, 442) have an obvious reason for this authentication: Given the sensitive nature of the letter, Paul wishes to affirm that though (as was normal for the period) a scribe penned the bulk of it, he stands fully behind it; no one can say that someone else is trying to cover for Paul or speak on his behalf, which would be a sensitive issue of honor under the circumstances.

Curiously, Holding fails to provide “an authority” that ancient forgeries had different targets from those today. But I would rather he pointed to other ancient examples of letters forged in the names of contemporaries. Even more interesting had he explained how they got away with establishing such forgeries as the generally accepted authentic writings while the contemporaries were alive to expose them.

As for the specifics of the argument cited as Witherington’s (the obligatory authority), I agree that it would make perfect sense for Paul to write a bit of it with his own hand. No doubt all the churches in Galatia had access to a file which contained a copy of Paul’s handwriting, kept in secure vaults and verified by Justices of the Peace or local magistrates, and also to professional handwriting experts, to establish to the readers that the parchment or whatever really was from “the Paul”.

Of course, no scribe could ever make a second copy of the letter. Or if he did, he would have to omit those last words or at best add a gloss to them. (Why has such a gloss not come down to us in any manuscripts?) Let’s leave behind this “hermeneutic of suspicion” a moment and suggest that the letter was finally faithfully copied without qualms after the original readers had died out or the issue addressed was long since dead. (In which case what would have been the purpose of copying this very tattered parchment or papyrus at all . . . — and if according to Justin Martyr the issue was still alive in the mid second . . . . ??)

If my point is still unclear, this claim for evidence of authenticity can only “work” in a late forgery. An original author making such a claim would, if he had half his wits about him, have realized the vacuousness of such a claim. Or perhaps Holding can cite an authority that this was the most obvious and normal practice authors used to authenticate their letters.

Holding 5:

Detering cannot understand why Paul would go into Arabia and not Jerusalem. It’s not too hard to figure: Paul is perhaps following the path of the Exodus, and perhaps even visiting Mt. Sinai, as Wright has suggested. However, it is just as well to suppose that he chose this as a nearby mission field after Damascus; and has every reason to NOT return to Jerusalem to face his Pharisee superiors who are naturally not going to be pleased that he botched on his job of arresting Christians by becoming one.

It’s quite exciting fun to make up imaginary itineraries to explain away the implausible, as Holding and Wright do here. Besides, can’t you just imagine the Paul whose every breath was in opposition to the Mosaic law making a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai in preference to the empty tomb in Jerusalem! This the man who counted all his past life in the law as dead from the moment Christ revealed himself in him. Holding also likes to pretend Paul might have set up a missionary station in Arabia, despite the passage in Galatians clearly conveying the idea that Paul went hermit, like Jesus into the wilderness, rather than make contact with “flesh and blood” (Gal. 1:15-17). But I like the last ‘let’s pretend’ best: Paul being too timid to face his superiors after being so profoundly converted that he was quite prepared to take on the leading apostles who knew Jesus personally, the high priest, the king, stonings, shipwrecks, scourgings, Caesar himself. This the man who could strike blind any who mocked his message (Acts 13:11). Too fearful even to enter Jerusalem secretly, if only to pay quiet apologetic respects at the tomb of Stephen.

Holding disputes Detering’s argument of psychological implausibility by fantasizing even bigger psychological implausibilities.