* Recent Posts

Author Topic: Magick in the Bible & Early Christianity  (Read 10849 times)


  • Sr. Apprentice
  • ****
  • Join Date: Dec 2011
  • Posts: 94
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Magick in the Bible & Early Christianity
« on: January 09, 2012, 02:57:24 pm »

MAGICK In The Bible & Early Christianity:

(c) 2009 By; Please don’t reproduce without permission.

It's true that in some places, the Bible does have some negative statements about witchcraft (and btw, at least one of those was MIStranslated. In Exodus 22:19, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," the word translated as "witch" actually meant "poisoner" --

However, the Bible has "neutral or positive references to a wide range of magical and divinatory practices."(Joanne Kuemmerlin-McLean, "Magic: Old Testament," in David Freedman, ed., _The Anchor Bible Dictionary_, 6 vols, 4:469; also Joshua Trachtenberg, "Jewish Magic and Superstition: A Study in Folk Religion" 19-20.)

Before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, Jewish tradition held that King Solomon's wisdom included his vast knowledge of magic and medicine.


Innumerable people have believed and still do believe in the magickal power of the Name -- that the true name of anything has power. It was on this basis that YHWH, (one of the sacred Names of God), known as the Tetragrammaton, (from which "Yahweh" and later "Jehovah" developed) was never spoken aloud by Jews; it was always replaced by the word(s), "Adonai" ("Lord") or "Elohim" ("leaders," "judges" or "Gods" – NOTE the plural!) throughout the Old Testament.

Because God's name was unutterable among Hebrews, they invested it with enomous power. "Magic by means of the use of the Holy Name was actually sanctioned, and the results that were sought by it differed little if at all from the objects of heathen magic."
(Alafred Guillaume "Prophecy and Divination Among The Hebrews and Other Semites" 269; Hyrum P Jones, "Magic and the Old Testament," MS thesis, BYU 1933, 42; Gershom Sholem, "Kabbalah," in Roth, _Encyclopaedia Judaica_ 10:494, 503)

Jewish and Christian lore contains many references to occult incantations, amulets, charms, spells, exoercisms, etc.

- Jacob's Magick Rods:
In Genesis 30:37-39, the Bible indicates that the patriarch Jacob (grandson of Abraham, aka "Israel", father of the twelve sons and therefore Twelve Tribes of Israel) was interested in names of power and in magic rods.

In fact, Jacob used magick rods to cause [his father-in-law] Laban's flocks to produce spotted offspring after merely looking at the rods. The scriptures do not indicate whether Jacob received divine instruction or authorization to use this method of Folk Magic, which was widespread throughout the ancient Middle East as one way to produce desired offspring.
(John McClintock and James Strong, ed., _Cyclopaedia of Biblical Theology and Ecclesiastical Literature_ 12 vols, 2:836)

- Joseph's Divining Cup:

While the Old Testament condemns the use of divination by Pagans, according to Genesis 44:2,5 Joseph (son of Jacob, whose prophetic interpretation of Pharoah's dreams saved Egypt and its allies from famine, and who therefore became the highest Egyptian authority under Pharoah) had a special silver with which "he divineth."

"Divination by cups has been from time immemorial prevalent among the Asiatics."
(Adam Clarke, _The Holy bible...With a Commentary and Critical Notes... 6 vols, footnote printed below Gen 44:15; often called "Clarke's Commentary".)

"Instances of the use of cups of water and variants, can be found in magical traditions from all over the world...."
(Richard Cavendish, ed _Man, Myth & Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural_, 24 vols, 18:2506)

Thus, without any biblical evidence of divine instruction or reproof, Joseph resorted to a tool of magic divination (hydromancy) that was in regular use among surrounding Pagans.

- Casting Lots:
The God of Israel commanded his people to cast lots (Leviticus 16:8-10; and the Hebrews chose priests and other temple workers (1Chron. 24:5, 25:8, 26:13), (and much later (Acts 2:24-26) the apostles of Jesus chose new apostles) -- by casting lots.

*Not* a vote by ballot, the biblical casting of lots was outwardly identical to sortilege/ divination practiced throughout the ancient world by Pagans who sought to know the will of their various gods."
(M'Clintock and Strong, _Cyclopaedia of Biblical Theology_, 5:519-20; Jones, _Magic and the Old Testament" 545; Jeffers, _Magic and Divination in Ancient Palestine and Syria_, 96-98)

"Judaising" Magic:
The _Encyclopaedia Judaica_ observed: "While repudiating the power of sorcery, biblical religion at times utilizes means and methods which were borrowed from magical practice --" but as Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner has noted: "Judaizing magic made it no less magical."
(Jacob Neusner, "The Wonder Working Lawyers of Talmudic Babylonia: The theory and practice of Judaism in its Formative Age".)

Magical Healing:

Bible commentators have also generally acknowledged the magic context of instances where objects had power to heal. In Numbers 21:9 Moses constructs a brass serpent, and any Israelite bitten by deadly serpents was healed by looking upon this image.

The _Abingdon Bible Commentary_ noted that this "is but one illustration of a practice well known outside the Bible as well as within it, namely, making an image of a pest or affliction and presenting the image to the deity who, in turn, would banish the pest."
(Frederick Carl Eiselen, Ediwin Lewis, and DAvid Downey, ed. _The Abingdon bible Commentary_308-309; also Joseph Dan, "Magic," in Roth, _Encyclopaedia Judaica_ 11:705)

In 2 Kings 13:21, a corpse revived to mortal life when it came into contact with the bones of the prophet Elisha. The _Interpreter's Bible_ commented that such belief was "common among primitive people....." (Buttrick, _Interpreter's Bible_ 3:258)

- St. Paul's Magic Handkerchiefs:
In one of the New Testament's best examples of magic healing, St Paul sent specially blessed handkerchiefs among the people to heal (Acts 19:12).

Jesus The Magician: (the title of a book, btw)
Jesus himself was accused of being a magician by Celsus and Jewish rabbis. Porphyry, another Pagan writer, dismissed Jesus as "not even an extraordinary magician," and called the apostle Peter "a dabbler in the black arts."
This was so well-known that medieval Passion plays emphasized accusations against "Christ the Sorcerer".
(R H NIcholson, "The Trial of Christ the Sorcerer in the York Cycle," _Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies_ 16:125-69)

"The belief, accusation or tradition that Jesus was a magician and that he passed magical power to his apostles and to the church as a whole, is thus found in Judaism, Gnosticism, Christian orthodoxy and heterodoxy, Paganism, Islam and Mandeanism."

(John Hull, _Hellenistic Magic and the Synoptic Tradition_ 4)

In many of the miracles of Jesus, the techniques closely paralleled magic practices of the ancient world. For example, Jesus used spittle to heal (John 9:6) and used Aramaic words in an otherwise Greek text of healing words ( Mark 5:41). Pagan magicians used spittle to heal the blind, put their fingers in the ears to heal the deaf, employed the same series of separate acts involved in some of the more detailed Gospel healings, and used foriegn words as part of magic spells and incantations.
(David Freidrich Strauss, "Thje Life of Jesus, Critically Examined," 2 vols, 2:299, 305)

Egyptologist Robert K Ritner has observed that Egyptian "saliva magic" was "given new justification by the miracles of Jesus."
(Robert Ritner, "The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magic Practice" 89, 91)

Religious historian Stephen Benko observed that the accusation of magic against early Christians was *not* mere polemical distortion. Non-Christians saw no difference between Christian glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and the gibberish of lower-class magicians and exorcists....
(Stephen Benko, _Pagan Rome and the Early Christians_ 118, 125, 132; also E R Dodds, _Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: Some Aspects of Religious Experience From Marcus Aurelius to Constantine 125-26)

Christians used "objects, rites, words and formulas charged with divine potency to force demons to yield," all in accordance with well-known, contemporary rules of magic. Christians may have claimed this was not magic, but it certainly looked like magic to others, and bore no real contrast to other forms of magick.

Conspiracy of Silence?
Historian David E Aune says that many authors "most of whom consider themselves biblical theologians, write as if they were involved in a conspiracy to ignore or minimize the role of magic in the New Testament and early Christian literature.....

It may not seem appropriate to regard Jesus as a magician, yet Jesus DID make use of magical tecnniques which must be regarded as magical."
(David A Aune, "Magic in Early Christianity" 1508, 1539, 1538; also E P Sanders, "Jesus and Judaism 169-173; see also _Jesus the Magician_)

"Christian magic is a tradition that employs deified Christian figures (Mary, the apostles, saints, and important figures) to allowa personal relationship with the Divine in the Roman Catholic Church and older Christian traditions. Additionally, it incorporates a number of other religions’ themes, gods, and traditions into its own system. It may also utilize spells, incantations, amulets, rituals, and other occult practices to call upon divine forces for intervention in the affairs of the world. Christian magic has arguably been around as long as Christianity itself, and continues to be a part of some belief systems in the modern world."

Christian “Gifts Of The Spirit”:
 Even what are scripturally referred to as the "Gifts of the Spirit":
(Mark 16:17-18, and 1 Corinthians 12-14) -- in other circles (pun intended) these are referred to as "Psychic Gifts".

Thus, (conservative) Christian objections to the practice of magick seems to be:

"If WE do it, it's holy; If YOU do it, it's evil !"

It should be noted that by contrast, God/dess judges not according to appearances, but the INTENT of the heart:
As the Bible itself (1 Samuel 16:7) says:
"For man looketh on the outer appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

Certainly, that includes the heart of a Pagan, who offers up a spell to heal a sick person, as well as that of a Christian who judges unfairly and unrighteously, and bears false witness against that Wiccan, calling his or her religion, “Devil worship”!

I hope someone finds that helpful -- Blessed Be ~ GaiaDianne
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 03:01:24 pm by GaiaDianne »


Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
24 Replies
Last post March 08, 2012, 06:53:03 am
by HeartShadow
5 Replies
Last post September 01, 2012, 02:43:18 am
by Sophia C
9 Replies
Last post May 13, 2014, 04:04:43 pm
by Airelinn
43 Replies
Last post November 26, 2013, 10:58:48 pm
by Morag
25 Replies
Last post July 03, 2019, 10:37:32 pm
by ehbowen

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 31
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 0

There aren't any users online.

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* Shop & Support TC

The links below are affiliate links. When you click on one of these links you will go to the listed shopping site with The Cauldron's affiliate code. Any purchases you make during your visit will earn TC a tiny percentage of your purchase price at no extra cost to you.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff


Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:

SimplePortal 2.3.6 © 2008-2014, SimplePortal