Biblical Magick : LUSENET : Radical Mormons : One Thread

Here's some stuff taken from D Michael Quinn's wonderful work, _Early Mormonism and the Magic World View"

While the Old Testament prohibits the practice of magic or presents it negatively in a number of places, it also 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 beleive 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), the Tetragrammaton, (from which Yahweh and later Jehovah were derived) was never spoken aloud by Jews; it was replaced by the word, "Lord". Becasue God's name was unutterable among Hebrews, they invested the Tetragrammaton 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 Christiian lore contains many references to occult incantations, amulets, charms, spells, exoercisms, etc.

Jacob and Magick Rods: The Bible indicates that the patriarch Jacob was interested in names of power and in magic rods. Genesis 30:37-39 Jacob used rods to cause 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 and Divining Cup: According to Genesis 44:2,5 Joseph had a special silver cup in Egypt 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 trool 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 by casting lots (1 Chron. 24:5, 25:8, 26:13) The apostles of the New Covenant also cast lots to select a replacement for Judas as an apostle (Acts 2:24-26) Not a vote by ballot, the biblical casting of lots was outwardly identical to sortilege 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 Diviniation 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 magickal 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 objectsd had power to heal. In Numbers 21:9 MOases 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, Saint Paul sent special 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 the acusation 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." (Hohn Hull, _Hellenistic Magic and the Synoptic Tradition_ 4)

In many of the miracles of Jesus, the techniques clossely parallelled 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 seperate 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, _Pagn 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.

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

Once again, 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" .

-- Gaia (, August 10, 2002

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