Who was Simon Magus?

Simon Magus is a character mentioned in the New Testament, who was reviled by early members of the Christian church. This strange figure from two thousand years ago plays an important part in my thrillers, The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series.

In Book 1, The Magus Covenant, The Jotham Fletcher completes a doctoral thesis about Simon Magus and comes to Rome to give a talk at the church of Santa Francesca Romana. He discusses the man in this excerpt from Chapter 12 :

“Before Philip the Deacon came to Samaria, Simon Magus was living there, doing magic and boasting that he was the Chosen One. All sorts of people were following him, even people in the upper echelons of society.

“Now let’s forward a number of years after the incident described in the Bible.

“During the reign of the Emperor Claudius, which was between AD 41-54, Simon Magus came to Rome with a group of his followers. By that stage, they were called the Simonian Sect and referred to him as a Holy God.

“Simon Magus wrote what he called the Great Pronouncement or, in Latin, Apophosis Megale. He claimed that angels made the world and that he was the saviour and power of God. He even started to do his own baptisms, claiming that it would bestow eternal life on his followers.

“He had a lover, a woman called Helena who had been a prostitute. Magus included her in his belief system. He claimed that his lover was the first conception of God, and the angels had come from her to create the Earth, but then she had been cast into slavery. Magus said he rescued her because he was the great power.

“Members of the Simonian Sect apparently led a libertine lifestyle, enjoying unbridled, licentious lives, following the principles learned from their leader.

“He was an opponent of the Christians and wanted to discredit and undermine them. To prove his doctrines to the Emperor, he said he would rise up and ascend into the heavens in front of everyone – on the site of the current church of Santa Francesca Romana beside the Roman Forum.

“The Emperor Claudius and the citizens of Rome were there.

“Simon Magus rose up high into the sky, according to legend. But the Apostles Peter and Paul were kneeling in prayer and, in what must have been a very dramatic moment, he came crashing down. Legend has it that he died a very painful death, his legs smashed to pieces.”

What do you think?

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