Hermann Detering (1953 - October 2018) was a Berlin pastor sceptical of Paul's authorship of the Pauline epistles, in line with radical criticism. He identified Paul with Simon Magus, the Samaritan sorcerer who opposed Peter.
Simon Magus as Paul
Many scholars, since Ferdinand Christian Baur in the 19th Century, have concluded that the attacks on "Simon Magus" in the 4th Century Pseudo-Clementines may be attacks on Paul. Detering takes the attacks of the Pseudo-Clementines as literal and historical, and suggests that the attacks of the Pseudo-Clementines are correct in identifying "Simon Magus" as a proxy for Paul of Tarsus, with Simon-Paul originally having been detested by the church, and the name changed to Paul when he was rehabilitated by virtue of forged Epistles correcting the genuine ones.
Detering's argument expands beyond the Pseudo-Clementines to include other apocrypha, arguing that Simon Magus is sometimes described in apocryphal legends in terms that would fit Paul, though most significantly in the Clementine Recognitions and Homilies. Detering contends that the common source of these documents may be as early as the 1st century in a polemic against Paul, emanating from the Jewish side of Christianity. Having thus identified Paul with Simon, Detering argues that Simon's visit to Rome (in the Pseudo-Clementines) had no other basis than being an account of Paul's presence there, and, further, that the tradition of Peter's residence in Rome rests on the assumed necessity of his resisting the arch-enemy of Judaism there as elsewhere. Thus, according to Detering, the idea of Peter at Rome originated with the Ebionites, but it was afterwards taken up by the Catholic Church, and then Paul was associated with Peter in opposition to Simon, who had originally been himself.
- Der gefälschte Paulus – Das Urchristentum im Zwielicht
- Paulusbriefe ohne Paulus? Die Paulusbriefe in der hollandischen Radikalkritik (Kontexte) (German Edition) (9783631447871):
- “The Dutch Radical Approach to the Pauline Epistles,” in Journal of Higher Criticism 3/2 (Fall, 1996)
Reviews and reception
Gerd Lüdemann Heretics: The Other Side of Early Christianity (1996) comments, while mentioning Jürgen Becker (Der Apostel der Völker, 1989), in footnote 232 that Detering's thesis (Urchristentum im Zwielicht, 1995) about the letters of Paul coming from the second century "is mistaken and is refuted by the existing sources."
- Reimund Bieringer The Corinthian correspondence 1996 p428: “Das Stillschweigen wurde aber neuerdings von Hermann Detering durchbrochen. Dieser Berliner Pfarrer publizierte 1992 ein Buch über die Radikalen mit dem Titel ‘Paulusbriefe ohne Paulus? Die Paulusbriefe in der holländischen Radikalkritik’; (Kontexte) (German Edition) (9783631447871).”
- Hermann Detering, The Dutch Radical Approach to the Pauline Epistles
- See also: F C Baur; A. Hilgenfeld; Hermann Detering, "The Falsified Paul: Early Christianity in the Twilight" - 1995 (translated into English in 2003); and J.R.Porter, The Lost Bible, pg 230.