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The Fabricated Paul: Early Christianity in the Twilight


Hermann Detering (1995)


The Falsified Paul: Early Christianity in the Twilight

Hermann Detering (Darrell Doughty, translator)

1995 (German), 2003 (English)

This book shows that all the Pauline letters are all 2nd-Century fabrications, Catholically redacted from Marcionite gnostic dualist-god original versions.

Available online as a 1.6 MB .pdf file at http://www.radikalkritik.de.  Includes active Table of Contents in the Bookmarks tab.

This English translation of the book was an entire issue of the Journal of Higher Criticism: Volume 10, No. 2 - Fall 2003



Hermann Detering

Der Gefälschte Paulus


Online version in German: http://www.radikalkritik.de/Neue_Buecher.htm. 

Uploaded by Michael Hoffman with permission from Hermann Detering and Darrell Doughty.  After I uploaded the .pdf files below, this encouraged and prompted Hermann to make the single-file .pdf available at his website.

Front Cover

Inside Cover

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Back Cover


TOC extracted and fixed by M. Hoffman.  Printable TOC .doc

Table of Contents 

Preface: Toward Understanding

Chapter 1: The Investigation of the Pauline Letters as a History of the Discovery of Their Inauthenticity

    The Interest Awakes

    The Sources

    The Basic Elements of Our Picture of Paul

    Acts: An Eyewitness Report?

    Paul in Wonderland

    With Rabbi Gamaliel

    Paul the Persecutor

    Paul on the Way to Damascus

    The Conversion

    Missionary Journeys


    From Acts to the Pauline Writings

    Original and Forgery in Early Christianity

    The Inauthenticity of the Pastoral Epistles (1, 2 Timothy, Titus)

    Differences in Language and Theology

    Did Paul Have a Secretary?

    Paul's Mantel

    A Double Standard

    Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians: Inauthentic

    Letters from No-man's Land


    Did Paul Copy from Himself?

    Paul as a Schoolmaster?

    Whoever Says A Must also Say B

    E. Evanson: The Uncomfortable Englishman

    From Baur to Bauer

    The Radical Dutchmen

    Seeking Traces

    Two Pauls

    Why Does Luke Remain Silent About the Letters of Paul?

    Justin and Aristides

    1 Clement and Ignatius: Two Will-o'-the-Wisps of New Testament Criticism

Chapter 2: The Historical Origin of the Pauline Letters

    De Omnibus Dubitandum: One Must Doubt Everything

    Antiqua Mater

    The First Witness to Paul: Marcion the Heretic

    Marcion's Two Gods

    When Did Marcion Become a Heretic?

    Marcionism and Gnosis

    Marcion's "Discovery"

    Mouse from Pontus -- or Catholic Redactor?

    Paul as an Apostle of Circumcision

    An Initial Visit with the Pope -- An Interpolated "Trip to Rome"

    The Pauline Christ as Son of David

    Paul Teaches a Christ with only an Apparent Body -- Paul as Docetist

    Paul and the Teaching of Two Gods

    Paul -- The Domesticated Marcion

    Paul -- The Non-Jew

    What Use Was Made of the Pauline Letters in the Second Century?

    The Opponents of Paul

    Marcion as Author of the Letters?

Chapter 3: A Legend and Its Historical Kernel

    A Final Open Question

    Fabrication Impossible?

    The Legendary Paul

    Paul and Thecla

    The Face of an Angel

    Fight with Beasts in Ephesus

    From Paul of the Legends to the Historical Paul

    The Doppelganger: Paul and Simon

    The Sinful Woman

    Who Was Simon Magus?

    The Flatterer

    The Visionary, Miracle Worker, and Missionary

    The Son of Lawlessness

    The Match-Maker

    Simon Atomos -- Simon Paulus

    From Paul to Saul

    Simon the Leper and Paul's Sickness

    Simon and Helena -- Paul and Thecla -- Jesus and Mary Magdalene

Chapter 4: What Remains?

    Plato's Allegory of the Cave and the Investigation of Earliest Christian History

    The Church and Her Heretics

    Paul and Jesus

    The Foundations of the Christian Faith

    Ratzinger, the Christian and Fortunate Hans

    The Letter Kills...

    The Role of the Church

Literature (Bibliography)

Back Cover

Summary by Michael Hoffman

I here summarize some of Detering's conclusions.  Page numbers are for the English .pdf file.

Detering's book aims to provide a better explanation for NT Christian origins than the usual views regarding Paul.   On page 50, Detering summarizes Loman's proposal in 1881:

"Christianity in its origin was nothing else than a Jewish-Messianic movement ... the figure of Jesus had never existed, but represented a symbolization and personification of thoughts that could only make full headway in the second century. A gnostic messianic community later appeared alongside the Jewish-Christian messianic community. In the period between 70 and 135 CE the two groups opposed one another with bitter animosity.

"Only in the middle of the second century did they achieve a reconciliation, in which the gnostic community had Paul as its representative and the Jewish-Christian community had Peter. The result of this process of reconciliation was the formation of the Roman Catholic Church. ... the letters of Paul are all inauthentic and represent the product of the newly-believing, gnostic-messianic community."

The Catholic church didn't create the NT books, but redacted them strategically to unite the Petrine Jewish-Christians camp with the Pauline Marcionites (Gentile Christian) camp, resulting in a durable church system.  Paul was a reworked Simon the Magician.  Simon/Paul had leprosy.  Simon/Paul taught gnostic-type anti-cosmos transcendence of and freedom from 'the law' through grace -- such transcendence being 'lawlessness'.

Initially, the Petrine Jewish-Christian camp, or the Petrine Jewish-Christian Catholic Church, tried ways of disparaging Simon/Paul, the proto-Paulines, Marcion, and the Marcionites; Jewish apocalypses so disparage Simon and his anti-law, anti-creator gospel of freedom.  But ultimately, the Jewish-Christian camp, or the Catholic Church which forced together the Petrine Jewish-Christian and Pauline gnostic (Gentile Christian) camps, redacted 'Simon' into the Roman-named 'Paul', making the Paul figure compatible with Jewish-Christian faith. 

John the Baptist's best follower was the historical Simon of Samaria.  Cerdo (in Rome) was a follower of Simon, then Marcion was a follower of Simon after Cerdo.  Marcion (from Pontus) doesn't write of Simon (from Samaria), but of Paul.  The Roman name 'Paul' means 'small' which the Simonians and later Marcionites mapped to the idea of election by grace rather than law (p. 146).  Simon was the "standing, stable, stationary one" (alluding to the timeless unchanging divine realm).

The work involved not invention, so much as redaction of two large groups to hide the fighting between them and pull them all together.  Imagine having to join together into an effective congregation the large, popular camps of both Peter and Simon -- redaction of Simon into the NT Paul was needed, to enable this merging of two popular opposed camps.  Like the Roman empire, the strategy of the Catholic Church was to forcefully integrate and coercively assimilate those who are opposed, not to annihilate them.

Marcion's gnostic church was popular because his gospel of gnosis was taught openly (p. 99).  The main problem Jewish-Christians or the unification-seeking Catholic Church had with Simon (the original of Paul) was his gnostic teaching of two gods, which disparaged the Jewish creator JHVH in order to seek the ultratranscendent God. 

In Gnosticism, 'lawlessness' means transcendent freedom from cosmic material imprisonment.  From a negative, Catholic Church, polemic lens, 'lawlessness' means rebellion against the strictly ultra-transcendent, alien/foreign Good God as well as the creator of the world -- the latter being disparaged as the demiurge in Gnosticism, and instead cut-off from the spiritual realm.  (Freeing people from the power of the demiurge: Detering p. 95-96, 99, 114-117, 152) 

In the Marcionite, pre-Catholic version of Pauline theology, the ransom for freeing from the law was paid to the demiurge -- the Creator, JHVH, the lawgiver of the Jews.  The canonical figure of Paul was derived by redactively diminishing (from dualist to monist) the original 'Paul the theologian' figure that originated in popular Marcionite Gnosticism.  Ransom redemption theology can only be coherently thought-out at last, at the price of heresy (p. 117).

The Catholic Church had a different strategy than the gnostic counter-JHVH system: unify the various synagogue groups and Marcionite groups, with highlighting on appropriating the Jewish religion and its scriptures and authority of established age.  Unity of the Church population including the Jewish resources required unifying the Jewish Creator god and the gnostic ultratranscendent god.

The Catholic Church avoided disparaging the god of the Jews in such a way that would prevent appropriating the Jewish religion.  The strategy of the Catholic Church was to appropriate, not to disown as Gnostics did, the Jewish god and the Jewish religion.

The figure of Paul in Acts is a Catholic creation, later than the original, Gentile-Christian, dualist, gnostic, Marcionite Paul. (p. 141).  The Catholic Church transferred the negative attributes of "Paul, apostle of the heretics" instead onto Simon, treated as a character distinct from Paul. (p.146)

My additional comments

The 'demiurge' or 'law' is actually a metaphor for the mystic discovery of Heimarmene, Fatedness, being a slave of Necessity.  During the ecstatic visit of the Holy Spirit, the vehicle of which is the Eucharist meal, we encounter and are then redeemed from sinister heimarmene.

Evan Powell proposed a motivation in his theory in The Unfinished Gospel, that the end of Mark was moved to the end of John in order to hide the opposition between them and produce a large single integrated Church from previously opposed Peter and John/Mary communities.

Evan Powell

The Unfinished Gospel



Religion presents divine paired attributes which can be labeled  wrath/judgment/law and mercy/love/compassion (attitudes on the part of the divine toward the person).

o  In the Marcionite/gnostic/Simonian/original Pauline system, these are mapped as wrath=JHVH, compassion=purely transcendent God (the dualistic heretical doctrine of 2 gods)

o  In the Catholic system, these are mapped variously as:

   o  Wrath=devil, compassion=God (creator god & transcendent god)

   o  God owns both wrath (held as rightful and holy) and compassion

   o  Wrath=Jesus the righteous judge, compassion=Virgin Mary the advocate

The gospel Jesus figure was built from Jewish sources for the polemical purpose of strategically synthesizing a rebuttal to the figures of Julius Caesar (as presented in the Roman Imperial theology/ideology) and Titus (as presented in Josephus' writings).  This combining of alternative theories provides a clear and plausible model of the development of the synoptic gospels which integrates and works together with Detering's '2nd-Century Paulines' framework.

Theories by individual authors such as Detering shouldn't be judged alone in isolation, or thought of as isolated views; one should instead keep in mind the uber-theory that the collection of related theories is groping towards.  By only considering each proposal in isolation, the status quo is maintained. 

Detering counters this protective tendency to some extent by citing the Radical Critics as a school with a history and positioning his work as belonging to this school.  Another protective tendency to beware of is limiting one's critical analysis only to the microscopic fragment level; instead, one should consider both the detailed text analysis and the big-picture reconstruction for plausibility.

Another mind-closing tendency, relevant to integrating the Radical Critical variant reconstructions together with other alternative models, is the modern-era assumption that esoteric insight was rare, deeply secret, and barely understood by the creators of Christianity. 

The opposite assumption opens up strong candidate alternative reconstructions: given that esoteric experiential religious ecstasy was as common and readily available as mixing wine in late antiquity, the challenge and center of activity in creating religions wasn't to obtain and understand religious ecstatic experiencing ("when the soul leaves the body, ..."), but rather, what distinguished the various religious variants of that milieu, such as Petrine Jewish-Christianity or Pauline/Johannine Hellenistic-Gnostic Christianity, was how they chose to *express* the on-tap ecstatic mode of experiencing in competing ways, toward competing ends -- such as competing sociopolitical and political ends, or competing strategic sociopolitical configurations. 

Roman Imperial theology/ideology with its Emperor Cult competed against the Jewish-Christian metaphor-system, and both of these competed against the Hellenistic-Christian Marcionite Gnostic type of Christianity -- and each of them constituted a variant configuration of ecstatic-state experiential metaphor and sociopolitical figuration.  The winning Catholic Church strategy was formed by forcefully fusing-together the latter two to battle successfully against the former, but ultimately, won by fusing the major elements of all 3 together in yet a fourth configuration. 

First there was Imperial theology/ideology, then there were the two battling camps of the Jewish-Christian rebuttal and the Hellenistic-Christian alternative configuration, then the Catholic Church strategy forced together a modified synthesis of Jewish-Christian constructions and Hellenistic-Christian constructions, along with Roman Imperial theology/ideology constructions, resulting in an alternative state-within-a-state, legitimated by ecstatic-state religious experiencing -- an alternative that was so powerful and strategically inclusive, including a coercive networked welfare system (per Dr. Michael Conley), that the resulting integrated recombination of the three configurations -- Catholic Christianity -- took over from Pagan imperial theology/ideology. 

Jewish Christianity' + Hellenistic Christianity' + Roman Imperial Theology' > Roman Imperial Theology (and > Jewish Christianity, and > Hellenistic Christianity).

-- Michael Hoffman

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