The Hermann Detering Legacy/4—Curriculum Vitae 2010–14

2011. Publication of Detering’s book FALSE WITNESSES (Falsche Zeugen: Ausserchristliche Jesuszeugnisse auf dem Prüfstand; 243 pp., Alibri). In this important book, HD argues in detail that the earliest (first century) mentions of Jesus in the literature (by Josephus, Suetonius, Tacitus, etc) are later Catholic interpolations. Comment: The bogus earliest textual ‘witnesses’ to Jesus of Nazareth are one of the pillars of the Jesus mythicist argument. Due to its significance in any primary database regarding the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, this terrain has been covered often and exhaustively (also by R. M. Price, F. Zindler, and R. Carrier). However, Detering’s German book probably represents the fullest and most convincing treatment of the issue to date.      Detering defends his book’s conclusions … Continue reading

The Hermann Detering Legacy/3—Curriculum Vitae 2005–2010

2005-06. “Die Gegner des Paulus—Judaistenthese 2. Jahrhundert” (“The Opponents of Paul—Judaists 2nd Century Thesis). This is a significant book-length treatment (270 pp → German PDF). Detering writes: “The thesis that I here expound is new. I attempt to show that the author of the Pauline epistles addresses Judaizers of the second century rather than those of the first century. The inauthenticity of the Pauline epistles necessarily follows” (p.1). In turn, Detering’s arguments lead to the overall conclusion that the New Testament derives not from the first century, but from the second. (HD’s later comment from his website here.) 2006. Article on the biologist Ernst Haeckel and the freethinking pastor and Jesus mythicist Albert Kalthoff, in A. Lenz (ed.), DARWIN, HAECKEL, UND … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 37)

→ Table of Contents Justin Martyr “For I have proved that it was Jesus who appeared to and conversed with Moses, and Abraham, and all the other patriarchs without exception, ministering to the will of the Father; who also, I say, came to be born man by the Virgin Mary, and lives for ever.”(Dial. Trypho 113) Exegesis of Jewish scripture by the Church Fathers In the penultimate section of his article (pp. 66–69), Dr. Detering highlights a faulty exegetical strategy of the Church Fathers: “The direction does not lead from the historical Jesus back to Old Testament figures, but the reverse: from an allegorical exegesis of the Old Testament to a historical Jesus.” In other words, the starting point was not … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 32)

→ Table of Contents The Didache—Pt. 2 Jesus/Joshua is not divine and he is not “Lord” We recall that most scholars date the Didache around 100 CE—some towards the end of I CE, and others (such as Detering and Niederwimmer) to the early part of II CE. This dating has great significance for the issues raised below. First of all, in the preceding post I pointed out that the Didache nowhere mentions ’Iésous “of Nazareth.” This must strike the reader as astonishing, given that scholars universally assume the text to be all about Jesus. They are, of course, looking at the text through a later filter—and scarcely realizing that fact. It is perhaps a minor detail, but a 100 CE Christian … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 31)

→ Table of Contents The Didache (Pt. 1) Dr. Detering points out that the Didache (“Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”) is a Church manual discovered only in 1873. “Majority opinion holds that it dates to the early second century,” he writes, reflecting the somewhat more progressive European scholarship. (American scholarship largely dates the work to I CE.) Kurt Niederwimmer (Vienna), author of the 1992 Hermeneia commentary The Didache, writes (p. 53): “An origin around 110 to 120 C.E. remains hypothetical, but there are as yet no compelling reasons to dismiss this hypothesis.” Also in agreement with Niederwimmer, Detering considers that the document is based on Jewish Vorlagen and was given only a superficial Christian veneer. Detering (p. 54) cites three passages … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 20)

→ Table of Contents The Odes of SolomonConclusion: The theology of immanence The two prior posts have briefly considered the Odes of Solomon, a ‘Christian hymnbook’ dating to the early second century CE. My discussion took its point de départ from Dr. Detering’s observation that Ode 39 knows dual outcomes of the Exodus: “Crossing the water is the judgment—it represents salvation for believers, but destruction for unbelievers” (pp. 8–9). We have seen that this dual outcome is very ancient and goes back to the Flood. Its equivocal nature allowed gnostics to interpret water as salvation (gnosis) for those who possess understanding, and as doom for those who do not. I proposed in a prior post that the early second century CE, … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 19)

→ Table of Contents The Odes of SolomonPart 2 The preceding post noted that the Odes of Solomon date to the first quarter of the second century CE. That was the critical ‘transition’ period—the final generation before ‘Jesus the Nazarene’ appeared on the world stage. As a transition work, the Odes seem to have one foot in the coming catholic world and one foot in the gnostic past. Buddhism, and the Odist’s gnostic credentials The Odist is clearly at home with the gnostic worldview. He repeatedly emphasizes the importance of gnosis/knowledge/understanding, equating it with the Word (12:3, 13) and even with the Savior (41:11). The Odist knows encratism and esoteric bridal symbolism (33:5 f; 38:9 f). At one place he mentions … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 18)

→ Table of Contents The Odes of SolomonPart 1 [H. Detering:] We encounter another allegorical interpretation of the Exodus motif in the Odes of Solomon. This collection of early Christian hymns apparently comes from an Alexandrian milieu in the first half of the second century. The 39th ode compares the “power of the Lord” with “raging rivers” that “send headlong those who despise Him” (v. 1). But “those who cross them in faith shall not be destroyed” (v. 5). Verse 8 follows: “Therefore, put on the name of the Most High and know Him, and you shall cross without danger; because rivers shall be obedient to you.”   A structural similarity [of Ode 39] with the aforementioned gnostic interpretations of the … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 13)

→ Table of Contents Simon MagusPart 3—The doctrines The principal sources for the doctrines of Simon Magus are two: Book VI (Chps 2-16) of the Refutation of All Heresies by Hippolytus, and the Pseudo-Clementine literature. Both documents are hostile to Simon and are full of tendentious material and obvious propaganda. Yet, though the Pseudo-Clementines are much longer, the précis of Hippolytus may be more rewarding as far as divining the gnostic doctrines ascribed to ‘Simon.’ Indeed, a careful analysis of Hippolytus’ description reveals a profound and coherent doctrine. The following attempts a brief outline of Simonian theology. It includes a good deal of ‘interpretation’ with which other scholars may disagree: • First of all, Simon taught that man can perfect himself. … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 12)

→ Table of Contents Simon MagusPart 2—Person or cipher? In the Clementine writings, the adversary Simon is nothing less than a (false) Christ figure. This is clear from the way Peter speaks of him: “For who would not marvel at the wonders done by him [Simon Magus], so as to think of him as a god come down from the heavens for the salvation of human beings?” (Rec. 2.6; Gebhardt p. 49; emphases added.) Epiphanius knows the same claim: “He [Simon] therefore came forward, and under the name of Christ…” (Pan. 21.2.1). This must cause wonder. For over fifteen hundred years the West has been inured to only one Christ figure: Jesus of Nazareth. However, when one investigates the many ‘heretics’ … Continue reading