Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Deterred from Detering

Deterred from Detering am I, as I move into the tail end of his book.  It's not that I don't love a stimulating reconstruction that pokes conservative Christianity in the eye... those good folk desperately need to be broken out of their terminal inertia, so it's almost a positive act of agape.  But Detering, in my view, over argues his case.  Finding connections between Paul and Thecla - on one hand - and Simon Magus and Helena on the other... not so flash.  One strand of legend has Simon described as a leper, therefore Paul's 'thorn in the flesh' was leprosy?  Jesus chowed down with Mr. Magus in Mark 14:3?  Mary Magdalene was a 'tower-virgin', evidenced in part by the Hebrew word Migdal meaning tower?

Methinks we blasted off for the Klingon home world sometime after chapter two.

In fact Detering has threaded a string of improbabilities together and declared them amazing coincidences that can scarcely be doubted.  I've met that kind of argumentation before, and its a sunny walk into delusional von Danikenism.

More modest claims about the Marcionite connection are still interesting, and I suspect there's more than a grain of truth therein.  But this stuff ends up almost as wildly improbable as Maurice Casey's portrait of Jesus (sorry, I'll repent of that comparison later).

Not rigorous history then, but Detering's case does make a great yarn.  Alas, in my view, he has over-peppered the steak to the point of inedibility.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, just about the time you think Detering is onto something, he jumps off the cliff.

    The contradiction between Galatians and the Acts about Paul's conversion shows that something is going on that isn't stated. The fact that Paul swears he isn't lying can only mean that someone said was and it looks to be the writer of the Acts.

    If Paul is writing some 50 years before the Acts was written, as the scholars say, then why doesn't the writer of the Acts know about what Paul says in Galatians 1&2? It makes more sense that Paul is writing after the Acts was written and is defending himself from what it says.

    Then there is the question of why Paul wasn't mentioned by any Xian writer until the middle of the 2nd century and the appearance of Marcion. It looks suspiciously like "Paul" is actually Marcion writing as if he is a long forgotten 13th apostle of the 1st century.