SIMON, sai'm(o-overbar)n (SIMEON), BEN YOHAI: Rabbi of the second Christian century, to whom the authorship of the Zohar (see CABALA, 17) is attributed. He was a favorite pupil of Akiba (q.v.), and was of the party opposed to the Romans. Tradition reports that he was compelled to remain in hiding in a cave for twelve years, until the death of the emperor (Hadrian), the cause being an outspoken condemnation of the Romans and their laws. An event which is better placed late in his life was his mission to Rome to obtain for his coreligionists greater freedom in worship and teaching, and in this mission he succeeded. During his hermit life is placed the composition of the Zohar, the basis of the tradition probably being that he combined a certain mysticism in his teaching. Yet his teaching, prevailingly halachic in type, was rationalistic in so far as he sought always the underlying reason for a Biblical injunction.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Lewin, Rabbi Simon ben Jochai, Frankfort, 1893; JE, xi. 359-363 (gives further literature, mostly in Hebrew).



In the Book of Acts ( 1).
In the Apocrypha and Justin Martyr ( 2).
His System According to Later Heresiologists ( 3).
Untenable Theories Concerning Simon Magus ( 4).
A Sorcerer Syncretized with the Sun ( 5).
The Twofold Simonian System ( 6).

1. In the Book of Acts.

One of the most difficult and interesting problems of apostolic and post-apostolic history is presented by Simon Magus, a Samaritan, who is described at once as a Christian, a Jew, and a pagan, a magician and a sorcerer, a Christian religious philosopher and an archheretic, a pseudo-apostle and a pseudo-Messiah, the founder of a religion and an incarnation of God. The earliest source concerning him is Acts viii. 5-24, where he appears as a sorcerer who had "bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one," yet becoming an adherent of the Apostle Philip and marveling at "the miracles and signs which were done" (verses 5-13). In verses 14-19, on the other hand, he seeks from Peter and John, not (as one would expect in the case of a sorcerer) the power of working miracles like Philip's, but the gift of conferring the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, only to have his request refused because of the unworthy motives which had prompted it. It is held by some critics that this entire account was based by a redactor of Acts on some "Acts of Peter," this redactor substituting Philip for Peter in verses 5, 6, 12, 13; adding allusions to John in verses 18b, 19a, 24, interpolating verse 10, and adding verses 14-18a and 19b. It should also be noted, in this connection, that neither the extant Acts of Peter nor the Church Fathers mention Philip and John in their accounts of Simon Magus.

2. In the Apocrypha and Justin Martyr.

The record of Acts is continued by the various recensions of the apocryphal Acts of Peter and kin dred literature (cf. Clement of Alexandria, Strom., vii. 17; Hippolytus, Philosophumena, vi. 20; Eusebius, Hist. eccl., ii. 14-15; Arnobius, Adv. gentes ii. 12; Philostorgius, Haer., xxix.; Epiphanius, Haer., xxi. 4; etc.), all of which deal with the conflict between Simon Peter and Simon Magus. The scene is Samaria in the Acta Vercellenses only, the other sources and Justin substituting Judea (or Jerusalem and Caesarea) and, most frequently, Rome. The time is the reign of Nero or (in the Acta Vercellenses) Claudius, but the only new trait ascribed to the characters is the pseudo-Messiahship of Simon Magus, which is shown, for instance,


in his attempted ascension (frustrated by the prayer of Peter) and in the epithet: "He that hath stood." An entirely different picture is given by the heresiologists of the early Church. The fragments of Justin Martyr's lost work on heresies state that Simon Magus was born in the Samaritan village of Gitta, and went to Rome in the reign of Claudius. There he is described as honored by a statue on an island in the Tiber, this statue bearing the inscription Simoni sancto deo ("To Simon, the holy god"). This latter statement seems, however, to be due to confusion with a statue actually set up on the island in question in honor of the Sabine deity Semo Sancus, with an inscription including the words Semoni Sanco deo. At the same time, the tradition of Simon's residence at Rome in the reign of Claudius was evidently wide-spread, and Justin also states that nearly all the Samaritans honored Simon Magus "as the first god, above all power, authority, and might," and as accompanied by a certain ex-courtezan Helena, designated "the first understanding from himself" (Apol., i. 26; Trypho, cxx.).

3. His System According to Later Heresiologists.

A valuable supplement to this information is given by a Roman heresiology written before 175 and incorporated by Irenaeus in his Haer., i. 23, also being used, in all probability, by Celsus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and the pseudo-Tertullian. Here Simon Magus appears in an essentially Gnostic garb, being, on the one hand, the "highest God " (or "Father"), and, on the other, "the most sublime power of God"; while Helena (here brought into connection with Tyre) is represented as "the first conception of his [Simon's] mind," "the mother of all," "wisdom," "the Holy Spirit," etc. Emanating from the Father, she descended to the realms beneath, where, in conformity to his will, she created the angelic powers which, without knowing the Father, created the world and man. Unwilling to be considered creatures, the angels imprisoned her in a female body, and she is the lost sheep for whose salvation the Father (Simon) appeared, to rescue both her and mankind from the slavery of the cosmic angelic powers. To deceive these powers, he was manifested to mankind as man, as the Father to the Samaritans and the Son to the Jews, suffering docetic passion. To this Irenaeus erroneously adds that Simon was supposed to have appeared as the Holy Ghost to the gentiles; and both he and Epiphanius give a number of further details which, while not impossible, can not definitely be ascribed to the system. An entirely different presentation of Simon's teaching is implied by Clement and Origen, and is further developed in the Philosophumena (vi. 7-18, x. 12; ANF, v. 74-81, 143). Here Helena ("Mind ") is unknown, and Simon is given his self-designation-"He that hath stood"; but Clement adds practically no new material, and Origen little beyond the statement that Simon regarded idolatry as a matter of no concern (Contra Celsum, vi. 11). A similar ignorance of Helena and a like emphasis on Simon as "He that hath stood" are shown by the Philosophumena. Here the center of all being is "boundless power," which is both supramundane (inconceivable holy Silence) and intramundane (the "Father," "He that hath stood, that standeth, and is to stand," an androgynous power with neither beginning nor end, and essentially unitary). While remaining distinct as a seventh power, the Father causes to emanate three syzygies of cosmic powers, which in their spiritual aspect are "Mind," "Intelligence," "Voice," "Name," "Ratiocination," and "Reflection," and in their physical aspect are "Heaven," "Earth," "Sun," "Moon," "Air," and "Water." The Father is, moreover, "He that hath stood" in relation to premundane existence; "He that standeth" in relation to present being; and "He that shall stand" in relation to the final consummation. Man is simply the realization of "boundless power," the ultimate end of the cosmic process in which the godhead attains self-consciousness. All this material is recapitulated, with some additional data, by the pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions. Simon Magus is here described as a necromancer driven by Peter from Caesarea to Antioch, and finally to Rome, everywhere shown to be an impostor, though declaring himself to be Christ, and overcpme by divine miracles. Helena again appears, this time as "Wisdom," "the All-Mother," and "Lady," sending forth two angels (who seize power over her), one to create the world, and the other to give the Law. The pseudo-Clementine sources also add that Simon Magus was the son of Antonius and Rachel, that he was educated in Greek learning at Alexandria, and that, after being received among the thirty disciples of John the Baptist, he became head of the sect after the death of his teacher. He is likewise described, though without plausibility, as the representative of Samaritan worship on Mount Gerizim who expounded the Law allegorically and denied the resurrection of the dead, as the representative of pagan philosophy (especially of astrological fatalism), and even as the defender of Marcion's antithesis of the good and righteous God.

4. Untenable Theories Concerning Simon Magus.

In some passages in these writings Simon Magus wears the mask of Paul, and attacks are made on Pauline teachings under the guise of polemics in favor of the Petrine theology against the tenets of Simon Magus. There is, however, no basis for the theory that the picture of Simon Magus in the Clementine literature is deliberately designed to be a caricature of Paul inspired by the hatred of the Judaizing school, or for seeing in the struggle between Peter and Simon the victory of Petrine over Pauline Christianity. All the traits of Simon in this literature reveal him as only a magician or pseudo-Messiah, later given not merely Pauline, but also pagan and Marcionistic, characteristics; so that both in the apocryphal Acts and in the pseudo-Clementine literature Simon Magus was primarily not a pseudo-Paul, but a pseudo-Christ, and therefore the antithesis of Peter. Equally improbable is the hypothesis which identifies Simon Magus with the beast of Rev. xiii. 11-17, although it is not impossible that the Beliar which the Sibylline Books, iii. 63 sqq., describe as destined to come "from the Sebastenes" (Samaritans) represented Simon. It


has likewise been maintained that Simon Magus is to be identified with the heresiarch Simon of Gitta, who should, on this hypothesis, be dated in the early part of the second century, but for this theory there is not the slightest ground, especially in view of the testimony of Acts, Clement of Alexandria, and Justin. It is, on the other hand, not improbable that Simon Magus is to be identified with a Jewish magician named Simon who acted as a go-between for the procurator Felix of Judea. This Simon is described by Josephus (Ant., XX., vii. 2) as a Cypriot, but this statement probably rests upon a confusion of the Cyprian capital, Cittium (Hebr. Kittim), with the obscure Samaritan village of Gitta (Hebr. Gittim).

5. A Sorcerer Syncretized with the Sun.

All evidence goes to prove that Simon was what his epithet Magus implies-a sorcerer. This was the motive for his association with the apostles in Samaria, but while it would seem that he pretended to be, in the pagan sense, a god in human form (cf. Justin, Apol., i. 26), there is no indication that either Acts or Justin regarded him as a pseudo-Messiah; and even the apocryphal Acts and the pseudo-Clementine literature characterize him as a false Christ merely on the ground that he was the first-born of Satan (cf. Ignatius, Epist. ad Trallenses, longer version, xi.). It is true that the heresiologists describe him as the supreme God and even as the Redeemer, but a careful study of the sources, particularly of the extant fragments of his "Great Announcement" (preserved by Hippolytus, Philosophumena, vi. 6 sqq.), shows that Simon himself made no claim to Messiahship, this being attributed to him by his disciples. With this falls the theory that Simon Magus was the founder of a universal religion intended to rival Christianity; and he was not even the founder of a sect in the sense that such heresiarchs as Marcion were. The very fact that Simon himself became the subject of Gnostic speculation shows that he was not the founder of Gnosticism, nor do the earlier sources so represent him; it was only his followers who made this claim for him. Historically, then, Simon was but a sorcerer who asserted that he was a god. This assertion, aided by the high fame which he enjoyed throughout Samaria (cf. Acts viii.), reached its culmination in his identification with the Semitic sun-god Shamash, whose cult was united wioth that of the moon-goddess Astarte. This is confirmed by Simon's companion, Helena, who is unknown to Acts, the apocryphal Acts, the Alexandrine heresiologists, or the "Great Announcement," but whose name ("Moon"), combined with the immoral past ascribed her and her Tyrian home, obviously points to the Tyrian moon-goddess with her licentious rites. How long this cult of Simon Magus, which had evidently arisen long before the time of Justin, persisted in Samaria and other re gions is unknown, but in the days of Origen the "Simonians" were exceedingly few in number in Palestine and the neighboring countries (Contra Celsum, i. 57), and by the time of Epiphanius (Haer., xxii. 2) they had become extinct. On the other hand, they had spread widely in the West before 200, and there long maintained themselves, (cf. Hippolytus, Philosophumena, vi. 15). They seem to have developed a sect essentially occult and libertine in character, worshiping Simon (cf. Irenaeus, Haer., I. xxiii. 4), and finally giving rise to two systems, that of the "Great Announcement" and that described by the heresiologists who based their writings upon Justin.

6. The Twofold Simonian System.

The authenticity of the "Great Announcement" has been assailed both because of its similarity to other Gnostic systems recorded by Hippolytus and on account of its divergence from Simon's teachings as described by other heresiologigts. Neither of these arguments, however, is sufficient to prove the document spurious, especially in view of the confirmation of Hippolytus by other heresiologists; and the true explanation of the divergencies between the Philosophumena and Justin lies in the fact that there were two Simonian systems, one influenced by Alexandria and the other by Syria. The former influence is especially evident in the doctrine of the Godhead as "He that hath stood," which finds a close parallelism in the Philonian system, and is also perceptible in the purely allegorical method of Biblical exegesis adopted by the "Great Announcement" (cf. also the account in the pseudo-Clementine Homilies, ii. 22 sqq.). It is uncertain whether the "Great Announcement" was written in Alexandria, but at all events its citation of non-Samaritan prophets and of Proverbs shows that it was composed neither by Simon nor by any of his Samaritan followers. The account given by Justin and those who drew upon him, on the other hand, indicates that the second Simonian system was evolved in Syria, its elements being a syncretism of Babylonian mythology and Hellenistic allegory (for the latter cf. Irenaeus, Haer., I. xxiii. 4; Epiphanius, Haer., xxi.). Both the Alexandrine and the Syrian form of Simonianism are unique in the history of Gnosticism in that they make a historic personage the supreme God, and, although destitute of any real Christian spirit, both show Christian influence, the Alexandrian "Great Announcement" using written Gospels and the Petrine and Pauline epistles, and the Syrian system comparing Helena with the lost sheep of Matt. xviii. 12 and Luke xv. 6. (HANS WAITZ.)

In St. Peter's in Rome in the west division of the left aisle is an oil painting on slate by Francesco Vanni, "The punishment of Simon Magus," representing Simon Magus's fall from the skies at the prayer of St. Peter.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: As an indirect source may be taken into account the excerpts from the Apophasis in Hippolytus, Haer., VI., vii.- xviii (Eng. transl. in ANF, v. 76-81), on which cf. H. St(a umlaut)helin, in TU, vi (1891). The most of the sources are named in the text, but the principal ones may be summarized here for convenience: Acts viii. 5-24; Justin Martyr, I Apol., xxvi., lvi., and Trypho, cxx., both in ANF, vol. i.; Hegesippus, in Eusebius, Hist. eccl., IV., xxii. 5, in NPNF, 2 ser., vol. i.; Irenaeus, Haer., I., xxiii. 1-4, in ANF, vol. i.; Clement of Alexandria, Strom. II., xi. 52, VII., xvii. 107-108, in ANF, vol. iv.; the Clementina; Eusebius, Hist. eccl., II., i. 12-15, in NPNF, 2 ser., vol. i.; Gregory Nazianzen, Oratio., xxiii. 16, xliv. Consult: F. C. Baur, in T(u-umlaut)binger Zeitschrift f(u-umlaut)r Theologie, 1831, pp. 114-136; idem, Paulus, pp. 85 sqq., 218 sqq., T(u-umlaut)bingen, 1845; H. Simson, in ZHT, xi (1841), 15-79; A. Schliemann, Die Clemntinen, Hamburg, 1844; A. Hil-


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