Before Google the Bible could be pretty confusing. Peter seemed to be a bedrock, a fixed point in the New Testament narrative. Your name will be Peter which means Rock. This of course means that he had another name before being renamed. Looks like it was Simon. So at various points we have references to a Simon Peter.
All a touch confusing, especially when a Simon Magus turns up in the narrative. Is this the same person or not. The text doesn’t tell you. Turns out there was another Simon, who was a miracle worker too – hence the Magus bit.
At one point it looks like Simon M is pretty interested in the new stuff Simon P is promoting – along with his sidekick Paul (previously Saul). Although it gets confusing even with Google – looks like a lot of what some people didn’t like about the views of Simon M were not a million miles away from the views of Paul.
Anyway, Simon M is interested in anything that would let him get ahead in the miracle working stakes, figuring he can make a living out of it. Simon P (and maybe Paul) explain to him that miraculous things can only be done pro bono. Its genuine concern for others that underpins the new healing they have been commissioned to bring into the world.
This leads to a stand-off in Rome between the Simons, with Nero adjudicating – as in the picture. Simon Magus demonstrates some of his magical powers by flying but whether cursed by Simon Peter or whatever comes crashing to earth and ends up stone dead.
Nero comes out of all this as the adult in the room when he gives an order for the body to be left in situ – for three days. He’s heard about this resurrection from the dead stuff and wants to make sure Simon M is properly dead before burying him.
Its clearly difficult to believe much of all this, other than to recognise many of the varying accounts are highly political with one side attempting to discredit the other. The bottom line though is the nascent Church makes Simony one of the first sins and one of the most egregious.
Simony? Selling the powers of the Church, essentially the power to heal, for money. We’d probably call it conflict of interest now.
It underpinned William Blake’s painting of the Simoniac Pope being dumped down into the deepest recesses of Hell which featured in an earlier post before being replaced by a less obscure image. But I did promise to come back and explain what it had been all about.