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Old 05-20-2001, 09:05 AM   #1
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Post Magic in the NT

There is a great deal of evidence in the NT suggesting that Jesus, Paul, and other personages believed in the effacy of magical technique,i.e., they believed in spirits that could be influenced by the practice of magic.

With the above in mind, I thought a thread dealing with this issue might be enlightening for those who have an interest in magic. I have a two-fold objective: First, I welcome open discussion/debate on this issue, and, second, I hope participants will recommend books and articles that seriously deal with this fascinating subject.

For the time being, I will leave it up to someone else to present what he/she considers to be magic in the NT; however, I will recommend the following books for the curious:

Jesus the Magician, Morton Smith
Hellenistic Magic and the Synoptic Tradition, John M. Hull
The Demise of the Devil: Magic and the Demonic in Luke's Writings, Susan R. Garett
The Secret Gospel, Morton Smith
The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Hans Dieter Betz
The Myth of the Magus, E. M. Butler
Magic in the Ancient World, Fritz Graf
The Problem of Miracle in Primitive Christianity, Anton Fridrichsen

rodahi

P.S.

Perhaps I should offer a few examples for comment:
1. "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed: Maranatha!" (1 Cor. 16:22) This is a magical execration.

2. "And when he [Jesus] had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" (Jn. 20:22) This is a magical technique dating to the time of the ancient Egyptians.

3. "And taking him aside from the multitude privately, he [Jesus] put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, 'Eph'phatha,' that is, 'Be opened.' And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And he charged them to tell no one." (Mk. 7:33-36)
This is a magical technique precisely paralleled in the Greek Magical Papyri.

4. "he [Jesus] will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and his on thigh a name is inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords." (Rev. 19:16) Many ancient magicians had tattoos. Jesus was no exception.

5. "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rm. 8:38-39) The ancients, e.g., Paul, believed in the existence of spirits that could be controlled by magical curses.

rodahi



[This message has been edited by rodahi (edited May 21, 2001).]
 
Old 05-20-2001, 08:18 PM   #2
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Real Magic would have been for Jesus to turn water into Beer. But wine? couldn't they just go down to wine shop and pick some up? How about a world wide cure for leprosy, just to be able to heal by one or two at a time...my doctor can do that.

Where is the Great Magic that Helped Masses of People instead of Destroying Masses of People?
 
Old 05-21-2001, 03:27 AM   #3
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I think this subject is a difficult one at best. How exactly does one distingush between the Jesus the magician of the athiest and Jesus the miracle worker of the Christians? The question has a great danger of becoming, "Did Jesus do magic or did Jesus do magic?". I hope everyone can see the difficulties inherent in such a discussion.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">5. "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rm. 8:38-39) The ancients, e.g., Paul, believed in the existence of spirits that could be controlled by magical curses.</font>
I'm not sure I even follow this one. The quoted passage indicates Paul's belief in angels and possibly devils/evil spirits (if this is what he means by the "powers" and "principalities"). But how exactly does it support the statement that he believed they "could be controlled by magical curses"?

Rodahi, I am curious as to your explaination of passages in the Bible forbidding magic and witchcraft.
 
Old 05-21-2001, 05:20 AM   #4
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Tercel:

http://www.infidels.org/electronic/f...ML/000356.html

is a thread on other jewish miracle/magic users. Magic was extremely common in ancient judaism, as it was/is in all peasant societies. I suggest you check out the links I posted to this thread, which I am reposting here, and read the books Rodahi listed.

http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/1995/95.04.12.html

Contains an informative review of a book on magic amulets: Greek Magical Amulets: The Inscribed Gold, Silver, Copper, and Bronze Lamellae. Part I: Published Texts of Known Provenance.

as Kotansky's specimens reflect the complex Greco-Roman cultures that had settled, negotiated misfortunes, and entombed their departed loved ones throughout Europe and the Near East. One encounters a Jewish amulet from Wales, an Egyptian divine name from York, England, and an invocation of Romulus from Hungary

And here is a discussion of possible magical inscriptions on first-century jewish graves.

http://www.jhom.com/topics/letters/grave.html

I have located an interesting article on jewish magic:

http://www.rrc.edu/journal/recon63_2/praglin.htm says:

  • "Convincing recent scholarship, however, contends that even in biblical times, healing practices involving magical spells, incantations, and exorcisms had found considerable expression. This was especially true in those Jewish communities influenced by Egyptian, Midianite or Roman culture, as Numbers, Isaiah, 2 Chronicles, Ezekiel, and 2 Kings attest. The book of Numbers documents Moses fashioning an image (later destroyed by King Hezekiah) known to magically heal serpent bites.8 I Kings, as well as Josephus, depict Solomon as a magician who could repel demons with his incantations, although the Mishnah records Hezekiah's suppression of this "Book of Cures," given its use as a substitute for prayer.9 The Apocrypha also documented folk medicine practices featuring the angel Raphael, who brought health and healing in the name of God.10 According to Philo and Josephus, the Essenes were particularly interested in physical and spiritual healing. The community at Qumran embellished the story of Abraham's healing of Abimelech, while the Dead Sea Scrolls record
    Abraham healing on behalf of the pharaoh by expelling a plague caused by a demon.11 "

Does that last sound anything like Jesus?

Healing through magic and exorcism is a common peasant folk practice. The followers of Jesus probably didn't have to shop very far to get those tricks.

So you can see that Jesis fits into a long tradition of jewish magic use, and that Biblical injunctions against magic were "honored in the breach" as the saying goes.

Michael

 
Old 05-21-2001, 12:13 PM   #5
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Alternatively, the prohibition of magic could be interpreted as prohibition of magic that involved others' deities. Also, one's own magic could be defined as not being magic, no matter how Clintonian such a redefinition may seem. "When we do it, it's miracle-working. When they do it, it's magic."
 
Old 05-21-2001, 12:48 PM   #6
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Here's a bit of fun by Rowan Atkinson from his video Rowan Atkinson Live!

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And on the third day there was a marraige in Cana, of Galilee. And it came to pass that all the wine was drunk. And the mother of Jesus said unto the Lord, "They have no more wine." And Jesus said unto the servants, "Fill six water pots with water." And they did so. And when the Steward of the feast did taste of the water from the pots it had become wine. And they knew not whence it had come. But the servants did, and they applauded loudly in the kitchen. And they said unto the Lord, "How the Hell did you do that?" And inquired of him, "Do you do children's parties?" And the lord said, "No."

But the servants did press him, saying, "Go on, give us another one." And so he brought forth a carrot, and said, "Behold this, for it is a carrot." And all about him knew that it was so. For it was orange, with a green top. And he did place a large red cloth over the carrot, and then removed it, and lo! he held in his hand, a white rabbit. And all were amazed, and said, "This guy is really good. He should turn professional."

And they brought him on a stretcher a man who was sick of the palsey. And they cried unto him, "Maestro, this man is sick of the palsey." And the Lord said, "If I had to spend my whole life on a stretcher, I'd be pretty sick of the palsey too!" And they were filled with joy, and cried out, "Lord, thy one liners are as good as thy tricks. Thou art indeed an all 'round family entertainer."

And there came unto him a woman called Mary, who had seen the Lord and believed. And Jesus said unto her, "Put on a tutu and lie down in this box." And then took he forth a saw, and cleft her in twain. And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But Jesus said, "O ye of little faith." And he threw open the box and, lo! Mary was whole.
And the crowd went absolutely bananas. And Jesus and Mary took a big bow, and he said unto her, "From now on you shall be known as Trixie. For that is a good name for an assistant."

And the people said unto him, "We've never seen anything like this. You shouldn't be wasting your time in a one camel town like Cana. You should be playing the big arenas in Jerusalem." And Jesus did hearkened unto their words, and he did go unto Jerusalem. And he did his full act before the Scribes and the Pharisees and the Romans. But alas, it did not please them in their hearts. In fact, they absolutely crucified him.

Here ends the lesson.
</font>
 
Old 05-21-2001, 02:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
Alternatively, the prohibition of magic could be interpreted as prohibition of magic that involved others' deities. Also, one's own magic could be defined as not being magic, no matter how Clintonian such a redefinition may seem. "When we do it, it's miracle-working. When they do it, it's magic."</font>
How about this also: The healers & shamans of any tribe belong to secret societies & spend many, many years learning the "tricks of the trade". In order to appear truly awesome & divinely inspired, you'd have to strike fear into the hearts of the laypeople who might curious.

 
Old 05-22-2001, 06:15 PM   #8
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Tercel: I think this subject is a difficult one at best.

It should not be "difficult" to closely examine the evidence contained in the NT itself and other sources.

Tercel: How exactly does one distingush between the Jesus the magician of the athiest and Jesus the miracle worker of the Christians? The question has a great danger of becoming, "Did Jesus do magic or did Jesus do magic?". I hope everyone can see the difficulties inherent in such a discussion.

There is no real distinction. Butler says it well: "the early Christian fathers had an infallible test: marvels produced in the name of Christ were divine [miracles], any others diabolic [magic]." The Myth of the Magus, P. 78. In other words, one person's magic is another person's miracle. Identical practices could be viewed as either miracle or magic, depending on who the audience/performer was. Butler: "The interesting and seemingly symbolical feature of the temptation [by Satan] was Christ's refusal to perform works of magic in order to prove his divinity. It was almost like a prophecy that there was to be no more magic allowed, and certainly a statement that magic was devilish. And yet Christ practiced it, for his miracles do not differ from the similar and sometimes identical feats of his predecessors and successors." Ibid. pp. 66-67.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">5. "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rm. 8:38-39) The ancients, e.g., Paul, believed in the existence of spirits that could be controlled by magical curses.</font>
Tercel: I'm not sure I even follow this one. The quoted passage indicates Paul's belief in angels and possibly devils/evil spirits (if this is what he means by the "powers" and "principalities"). But how exactly does it support the statement that he believed they "could be controlled by magical curses"?

Again, I quote E. M. Butler: "Ceremonial or ritual magic...aimed principally at control of the spirit world. The means were complex and various, ranging from short spells and charms to lengthy and highly elaborate ceremonies, in which prayers and invocations played the major part." Ritual Magic, P. 3. This belief in spirits and the use of magic to control them dates back thousands of years before the time of Jesus and Paul. When Paul says-- "If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Maranatha!"--he is adjuring a powerful spirit (or spirits) to send specific people to the underworld. This is a magical act.

Tercel: Rodahi, I am curious as to your explaination of passages in the Bible forbidding magic and witchcraft.

Christian (or Jewish) bias.
Even though Apollonius of Tyana did things that magicians did, literature written by an admirer praises him as a miracle worker, not as a magician. Literature written by followers of Simon Magus certainly would have said that he performed miracles and not magic.

rodahi

 
 

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