Tuesday, June 21, 2011


In researching the History and and looking for the possible origin of the "Tri{3}nity" doctrine and trying to find the EARLIEST TRACES of this teaching in extant sources, what I found was remarkable. 

The Tri{3}nity is not mentioned by any Genuine Christian writer in good standing with the "Church" who isn't heavily influenced by Greek Philosophy (compare Col 2:8) in the first and second centuries.

Theophilus uses the word Gk., ( triados ) which was later adapted to the Tri{3}nity doctrine but in the context in which he uses it and in what he actually says he does not teach the real THREE-IN-ONE-FATHER-SON-HOLY-SPIRIT-GOD that is now taught in the Churches. 

Tertullian was, (this point is generally kept under raps or played down as much as possible or completely ignored by Tri{3}nitarians), actually a cult follower of the false prophet MONTANUS at the time when he ( first ) started teaching the Tri{3}nity. In his pre-montantist works he shows BI{2}-nitarian views but not until the turn of the century or just after does he write "Against Praxaes" the first written treatise on the Tri{3}nity. At this time he seperated himself from main-stream Christianity and turned against it. In fact "Against Praxaes" is a MONTANIST defence - ( against ) - true Christianity. He was then excommunicated for being a follower of and teaching these new and hetrodox doctrines originating from this false prophet MONTANUS.

Both of which will be the subject of a more in depth posts at a later date.

But what you DO find is the THREE-IN-ONE-GOD-OF-FATHER-SON-HOLY-SPIRIT --- ( CONCEPT ) --- being used by the earliest "heretics" (for want of a better word) out-side of - and running parallel to - late first and second century Christianity.

In fact the earliest known and nearest to a THREE-IN-ONE-GOD --- ( CONCEPT ) --- within Christian writings that I can find is in the teachings of SIMON MAGUS - who is the very same SIMON mentioned in the book of Acts in the Bible.
This is the earliest TRACE of this DOCTRINAL CONCEPT I can find in historical sources within Christian sources.
And it's not found in the teachings of the Bible, not found in the teachings of the earliest genuine Christian writers - but found - in a demonized Gnostic Apostate's teaching.

Read the citations below and make your own evaluation, think about it and draw your own conclusions.

But make sure you compare the comments in earlier posts and at the bottom after the quoted citations.

It is certainly food for thought.

The following quotes are all about Simon Magus:

IRENAEUS (circa. 130-200 C.E.): “...He, therefore, was glorified by many as a god; and he taught that it was he himself who, forsooth, appeared among the Jews as THE SON, while in Samaria he descended as THE FATHER, and in the rest of the nations he came as THE HOLY SPIRIT. That he was THE HIGHEST POWER, to wit, THE FATHER OVER ALL..." - (Contra Haereses, I. xxiii. 1-4. Text: Opera edidit Adolphus Stieren; Lipsiae, 1848.)
IRENAEUS (circa. 130-200 C.E.): “...SIMON THE SAMARITAN was that MAGICIAN of whom Luke, the disciple and follower of the apostles, says, “But there was a certain man, SIMON BY NAME, WHO BEFORE-TIME USED MAGICAL ARTS in that city, and led astray the people of Samaria, declaring that he himself was some great one, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, THIS IS THE POWER OF GOD, WHICH IS CALLED GREAT. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had driven them mad by his sorceries.” [Acts viii. 9–11.] This SIMON, then—who feigned faith, supposing that the apostles themselves performed their cures by the art of magic, AND NOT BY THE POWER OF GOD; [equating holy spirit with the power of God] and with respect to their filling with the Holy Ghost, … This man, then, was glorified by many as if he were a god; and he taught that it was himself who appeared among the Jews AS THE SON, but descended in Samaria AS THE FATHER while he came to other nations IN THE CHARACTER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. He represented himself, in a word, as being THE LOFTIEST OF ALL POWERS, that is, THE BEING WHO IS THE FATHER OVER ALL, and he allowed himself to be called by whatsoever title men were pleased to address him. 2. Now this SIMON OF SAMARIA, from whom all sorts of heresies derive their origin, formed his sect out of the following materials: … They also have an image of Simon fashioned after the likeness of Jupiter, and another of Helena in the shape of Minerva; and these they worship. In fine, they have a name derived from SIMON, THE AUTHOR OF THESE MOST IMPIOUS DOCTRINES, being called SIMONIANS; and from them “knowledge, falsely so called,” [1 Tim. vi. 20.] received its beginning, as one may learn even from their own assertions. 5. The successor of this man was MENANDER, also a Samaritan by birth, and he, too, was a perfect adept in the practice of magic...” – (Against Heresies Bk 1; Chap 23:1-4; Roberts and Donaldson, ANF, Vol. 1, p. 348.)

TERTULLIAN (circa. 145-225 C.E.): “...For SIMON THE SAMARITAN also, the purveyor of the Holy Spirit, in the Acts of the Apostles, ... a Tyrian woman Helen from a place of public pleasure, a fit commodity instead of THE HOLY SPIRIT. And he pretended that he was the highest Father, ... for the purpose of deceiving whom he transformed himself, and pretended that he was a man to men only, playing the part of THE SON in Judaea, and that of THE FATHER in Samaria...” - (Tertullianus De Anima, 34, 36. Text: Bibliothec. Patr. Eccles. Select. curavit Dr. Guil. Bruno Linder, Fasc. iv; Lipsiae, 1859.)

TERTULLIANEuphorbus; and in order that, by the demolition of the metempsychosis and metensomatosis by the same blow, the Found might be cut away which has furnished no inconsiderable support to our heretics. There is THE (INFAMOUS) SIMON OF SAMARIA IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, who chaffered for the Holy Ghost: … He actually reigned himself to be THE SUPREME FATHER, … This wench, therefore, was the lost sheep, upon whom THE SUPREME FATHER, even SIMON, descended, who, after he had recovered her and brought her back-whether on his shoulders or loins I cannot tell-cast an eye on the salvation of man, in order to gratify his spleen by liberating them from the angelic powers. Moreover, to deceive these he also himself assumed a visible shape; and reigning the appearance of a man amongst men, he acted the part of THE SON in Judea, and of THE FATHER in Samaria...” – (On the Soul [Latin tittle: De Anima] Chap 34, ANTE-NICENE CHRISTIAN LIBRARY: Vol VII. Translated by Peter Holmes, Published by T&T Clark 1868)
Origen has some information also:

ORIGEN OF ALEXANDRIA (circa. 185 to 254 C.E.): “...But Celsus is ignorant that the SIMONIANS in no way confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but they say that SIMON IS THE POWER OF GOD…” - (Origenes Contra Celsum, i. 57; v. 62; vi. ii). Text (edidit Carol. Henric. Eduard); Lommatzsch; Berolini, 1846.)

ORIGEN OF ALEXANDRIA (circa. 185 to 254 C.E.): “...For the former (SIMON) pretended he was THE POWER OF GOD, which is called GREAT, and the latter Dositheus that he too was the Son of God...” - (Origenes Contra Celsum, i. 57; v. 62; vi. ii. Text edidit Carol. Henric. Eduard; Lommatzsch; Berolini, 1846.)

ORIGEN OF ALEXANDRIA (circa. 185 to 254 C.E.): “...There was also SIMON THE SAMARITAN … he desired to spread the glory of his name, … quoted from the Acts of the Apostles; ...having proved that SIMON was in no respect DIVINE...” - (Origen, Contra Celsum (LVII), Phillip Schaff ANF 421-422.)

While Origen's account does not contain some of the other details, he does show he claimed to be "divine" "The Great Power of God" and "The Son of God".

HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME (circa. 170-236 C.E.): "...For he said that, as the Angels were misgoverning the world owing to their love of power, he had come to set things right, being metamorphosed and made like unto the Dominions, Principalities and Angels, so that he was manifested as a man although he was not really a man, and that he seemed to suffer in Judaea, although he did not really undergo it, but that he was manifested to the Jews as THE SON, in Samaria as THE FATHER, and among the other nations as THE HOLY GHOST..." - (Philosophumena, vi. 9. Text: Refutatio Omnium Haeresium ediderunt Lud. Duncker et F.G. Schneidewin; Gottingae, 1859.)
[FOOTNOTE]: Hippolytus “Refutation of all Heresies” 6:9 = Latin “Philosphumena.”

GREEK TEXT: “...Σίμωνος γίνεται τοῦ μάγου πρώτη αἵρεσις ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ … ἔλεγεν δὲ ἑαυτὸν εἶναι τὴν μεγάλην δύναμιν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἄνωθεν καταβεβηκέναι. Τὸν πατέρα δὲ ἔλεγεν ἑαυτὸν τοῖς Σαμαρείταις, Ἰουδαίοις δὲ ἔλεγεν ἑαυτὸν εἶναι τὸν υἱόν, παθόντα δὲ μὴ πεπονθέναι, ἀλλὰ δοκήσει μόνον...” – (Panarion † Adversus haereses 1.238 Patrologiae cursus completus. Series graeca. Edidit Migne, J.P., LIBRARY OF RUSLAN KHAZARZAR)

EPIPHANIUS OF SALAMIS (c. 310 to 403 C.E.): “...From the time of Christ to our own day the first heresy was that of Simon the magician, and though it was not correctly and distinctly one of the Christian name, yet it worked great havoc by the corruption it produced among Christians. … by saying that he was THE GREAT POWER OF GOD and had come down from above. And he told the Samaritans that he was THE FATHER, and the Jews that he was THE SON...” - ([Panarion or Latin title] “Contra Haereses,” ii. 1-6. Text: Opera edidit G. Dindorfius; Lipsiae, 1859.)

EPIPHANIUS OF SALAMIS (c. 310 to 403 C.E.): “...It took place [that] Simon the magician the first heresy from Christ, stretching forth until now, this (one) being associated with the name of Christ, but [certainly] not one of [the] faithful, pure, or upright, worked busily in [among] these ones causing corruption … but saying about himself that he was “THE GREAT POWER OF GOD” that had “stepped down from on High!” [Also] he was saying that he was “THE FATHER” to the Samaritans, but to Jews he said he was “THE SON”...” – (1.238, Panarion or Latin title “Adversus haereses,” translated by Matt13weedhacker)
Gk., ( τὴν μεγάλην δύναμιν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἄνωθεν καταβεβηκέναι ) “The Great Power of God that had stepped down from on High” = equivalent to the “holy spirit”
[FOOTNOTE 2]: Gk., ( Τὸν Πατέρα ) = “The Father”
[FOOTNOTE 3]: Gk., ( τὸν υἱόν ) = “The Son”

More witnesses to Simon Magus teaching the "THREE-IN-ONE-GOD" - ( CONCEPT ):

PHILASTRIUS ( ? ): “...SIMON, THE MAGICIAN, a Samaritan … saying that he was some POWER OF GOD, ABOVE ALL POWERS. Whom the Samaritans worship as THE FATHER...” - (De Haeresibus, i. Text: Patres Quarti Ecclesiae Saeculi edidit D.A.B. Caillau; Paris, 1842.)

LATIN TEXT: “...Ego sum Sermo Dei, ego sum Speciosus, ego Paracletus, ego Omnipotens, ego omnia Dei...” - (In Matthaeum, IV. xxiv. 5. Text: S. Eusebii Hieronymi Comment.; Migne Patrol. Latina., VII. Col. 176.)

JEROME or HIERONYMUS (circa. 347 to 420 C.E.): “...Of whom there is one SIMON, A SAMARITAN, whom we read of in the Acts of the Apostles, who said he was some GREAT POWER. And among the rest of the things written in his volumes, he proclaimed as follows: "I am THE WORD OF GOD; I am THE GLORIOUS ONE, I THE PARACLETE, THE ALMIGHTY, I THE WHOLE OF GOD...” - (In Matthaeum, IV. xxiv. 5. Text: S. Eusebii Hieronymi Comment.; Migne Patrol. Grec., VII. Col. 176.)
[FOOTNOTE]: Above more commonly known as Jeromes “Commentary On Matthew” Bk 5, Chapter 24:5.

GREEK TEXT: “...Ἑαυτὸν δὲ τὴν ἄπειρον ὠνόμασε δύναμιν, καὶ Ἰουδαίοις μὲν ὡς ΥἹῸΝ φανῆ ναι, πρὸς δὲ Σαμαρείτας ὡς ΠΑΤΈΡΑ κατεληλυθέναι, ἐν δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἔθνεσιν ὡς ΠΝΕΥ͂ΜΑ ἍΓΙΟΝ ἐπιφοι τῆσαι...” - (Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium, I. i. Αʹ. –Περὶ Σίμωνος τοῦ Μάγου)

THEODORETUS (circa. 397 to 457 C.E.): "...Whereas he called himself THE BOUNDLESS POWER, and (said) that he had appeared to the Jews as THE SON, and to the Samaritans he had descended as THE FATHER, and among the rest of the nations he had gone up and down as THE HOLY SPIRIT...” - (Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium, I. i. Text: Opera Omnia ex recensione Jacobi Simondi, denuo edidit Joann. Ludov. Schulze; Halae, 176.)

APOCRYPHAL ACTS OF PETER (circa. 150-200 C.E.): “...SIMON, ... further that he said he was A GREAT POWER OF GOD and without God he did nothing. Is not this THE CHRIST?...Perchance also he will now enter into Rome; for yesterday they besought him with great acclamations, saying unto him: Thou art GOD in Italy, thou art THE SAVIOUR of the Romans: haste quickly unto Rome..." - (Acts of Peter XII, translated by M.R. James. earlychristianwritings.com.) 

Notice SIMON'S strange teaching that he himself was the Father and the Son and the holy spirit all roled into one person and that he was "...THE ALMIGHTY, THE WHOLE OF GOD..." as Jerome relates.

Yes it's not exactly the Tri{3}nity of Christendom, but it is the nearest you will get to that concept in this period within available historical sources in Christianity.

And it's not from a genuine Christian in good standing with the Church but a Gnostic Apostate.

Now the real reason why I wanted to post these quotes about Simon Magus is because of the clear link between his teaching and his followers and their followers after-wards.

Meander his disciple to Valentius etc.

Remember Martin Werners observations:

MARTIN WERNER: "...Consequently one now began to talk of a divine 'Trinity'. In the Nicene Confession-formula of A.D. 325 this concept had been, significantly, lacking. 'Trinitas'- Trias did not signify a kind of 'unity of three', but simply 'three-ness'. In the adoption of this concept the Gnosticising tendency also showed itself. For the 'Trias' -'Trinitas' was first adopted as a doctrinal terminus technicus [technical term] in the period of the Church's controversy with Gnosticism. AS A DOCTRINAL CONCEPT, 'trinitas' WAS OF GNOSTIC ORIGIN. Trias - trinitas was one of a number of numerical-concepts employed in Gnostic pleroma speculation, where there was, with the trias, a dyas, tetras, hexas, an ogdoas, dekas, and dodekas. The VALENTINIAN GNOSTIC had been, accordingly, so far as the existing sources permit us to know, the FIRST Christian theologian to designate the Father, Son and Spirit specifically as a Trias..." (The Formation of Christian Dogma, An Historical Study of its Problems; Martin Werner, p252)

Tracing the links and lineage of the doctrine. 

Couple this with the other Gnostic concepts of same-substance, what is begotten of god is god etc.

But there is another link to Simon Magus which is even more interesting.

In a future post I will compare the teachings of Simon Magus with that of MONTANUS.

Yes the teacher of guess who?


Starting to form a bigger picture now? Connecting the dots? 

When I finish my research and preparation and post a systematic examination of the actual writings of the Apostolic Fathers and Apologists and Christian writers up to the end of the Second Century and when you see the complete absence of the actual Tri{3}nity doctrine and then see it growing in Heretical sources influencing Christianiyt like Simon Magus, Valentinus and other Gnostics, Montanus, Tertullian, Sabellius the picture will become clearer of it's NON-CHRISTIAN and HERETICAL and PHILOSOPHICAL and NON-BIBLICAL SOURCE.

These Apostate teachers - more than anything else had to do with the slow but gradual rise of this doctrine - from within and with-out.