Thanks to everybody who posted. Here are just a few notes (not to everybody, but I read everybody with gratitude).
For all anyone knows, neither christ nor antichrist ever existed. The title has nothing to do with chickens. The proto-orthodox believed in both a
christ (their Jesus) and also in a first antichrist (the term they applied to Simon). The thread title asks which actually
came first, the man
whom the proto-orthodox call their christ, or the first man whom the proto-orthodox called an antichrist?
Any temporal precedence implied by the words
"Christ" and "antichrist" reflects the opinion of the proto-orthodox. I don't doubt that that was
their opinion, but it is entirely reasonable for us to ask and discuss whether that opinion is correct, on what evidence and so on.
Justin, Irenaeus, Eusebius ... those people thought that Simon had inspired the Gnostic movement. We don't have from Simon what he taught, but he did
teach (it seems) a higher god of which he was the incarnation, and his 'Helen' seems to be a 'first draft' of the character that became Sophia by the
Second Century. Whether he had concepts like Pleroma I don't know.
The Simon who carried the cross was Simon of Cyrene, and probably not our guy. According to Basilides, a Second Century Gnostic, Simon of Cyrene died
on the cross instead of Jesus. If you read the Passion in Mark
, you'll see what Basilides was talking about (the pronoun references are messed
Unfortunately, the Clementine literature, where so many of the most colorful Simon stories are found, is very probably faked.
I agree with you that Simon is more likely to have been historical and real than Jesus. However, both are heavily caked in myth and legend at this
point. Even if they're both real, we might not easily recognize either one if we could go back in time and look for them.
Is this like a "what came first: the chicken or the egg" for religious people?
. Just a fair question. Somebody copied off of his neighbor's paper. The usual assumption is that Simon copied off of Peter's, because Peter's
followers still exist and Simon's don't (except for the few Gnostic revivers). That may be right, but I'm not certain. Celsus may have thought it was
50-50, and he seems to know a lot more about it than me.