Monday, 9 July 2012

Detering, Troxel, Borg

As mentioned in the previous post, I'm working my way through Hermann Detering's The Fabricated Paul.  For Detering the Pauline letters are a post-Pauline creation, baked in a hot second-century Marcionite oven, and only later - heavily redacted - incorporated into the Catholic canon. 

Quite frankly, it's a riveting reconstruction, even though the evidence is, by its nature, only circumstantial.  This doesn't stop Detering, following in the wake of the Dutch Radicals of a bygone generation, laying lustily into his subject.  The man who inspired Marcion, the historical figure who Detering finds lying beneath the Pauline veneer, is none other than Simon of Samaria, a.k.a Simon Magus.

All of this might seem a tad improbable at first blush, but if anyone can convince you otherwise it'll probaby be Detering, and just think of all the fun you'll have irritating earnest mainline Christians along the way.  And expect more in this vein to hit the shelves before too much longer.  A volume of essays by van Manen (1842-1905) on the inauthenticity of the Pauline epistles is on the drawing board, and of course Bob Price's long-awaited The Amazing Colossal Apostle is in the editing stages at Signature Books.

But, just to prove that I can still hew closer to the consensus, also on the reading list is Ronald L. Troxel's Prophetic Literature: From Oracles to Books.  Putting aside all that moronic nonsense on the prophetic books that you'll find on the shelves of your local Christian bookshop, this is an entry-level academic introduction to what they're really about and how they came to be.  I'd love to be able to present a copy of this to someone like Rod Meredith, except I don't expect he'd be able to deal with it and would toss it aside after a couple of pages.  A better fantasy might be to simply slap the old buzzard with a copy, hard!, and thereby hope to knock some sense into him. 

I'm not much of a fan of Marcus Borg's work, but was tempted by Speaking Christian anyway.  Borg is fighting on two fronts, the literal approach to Christianity and the bog-standard 'heaven-hell' framework that most Christians operate within.
Christians... are deeply divided by different understandings of a shared language.  About half (maybe more)... believe that biblical language is to be understood literally within a heaven-and-hell framework that emphasizes the afterlife, sin and forgiveness, Jesus dying for our sins, and believing.  The other half (maybe less) puzzle over and have problems with this.  Some have moved on to another understanding of Christian language.  The differences are so sharp that they virtually produce two different religions, both using the same Bible and the same language.
Ain't that the truth!  Borg's burden is to demonstrate that the literalist, heaven-hell bull-geschichte is far more modern and less authentic than we might imagine, and that those in the "maybe less" category are indeed on the side of the angels.  Marcus I believe!  Help thou my unbelief!

I look forward to seeing how he develops his argument.


  1. Completely ignoring the NT "scriptures", I would say that Detering has it nailed - almost. I've only read half the book so far but I already agree that the Marcionites were around way before Marcion's appearance in Rome. For one thing, there is absolutely no way that Marcion could become such a threat to the "orthodox" church in only 15 years.

    My own theory, which doesn't really mean anything, is that Christianity (not known by that name) actually began over a hundred years before Jesus of Nazareth supposedly lived. IOW, the result of Jewish "midrash" - the hidden meaning of the scriptures.

    I suppose it doesn't really matter, since it's all hog wash anyway, but since it has been responsible for so much misery and suffering in the world, it would be good if the puzzle was solved.

  2. Like Corky said, it's all hogwash. Why argue about whose interpretation of the origins and genesis of the hogwash is best?