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Michael Mach

I The Gospels contain a considerable number of miracle stories relating the actual 5 deed to Jesus. Some of these stories are quite elaborate, others mere summaries. These miracles of Jesus have been problematic for the interpreters of the New Testament, at least throughout the post-enlightenment period. It is self-understood, that given the immense efforts that have already been spent on this specific problem we will be unable to offer a scrutinizing analysis of the texts 1. 10 We would, instead, like to take up some of the more recent discussions regarding the cultural background and possible implications of the miracle stories as told in the gospels (and will not include the accounts of miraculous events reported in Luke’s acts)2. Given the problematic of a ‘rationalistic’ understanding of the miracles per15 formed by Jesus3 one might say that nearly every new exegetic tool has been used
1 Given the immense amount of scholarly literature devoted to the subject of our study it will be impossible to allow for only a fair bibliographical annotation. The following notes are, therefore, meant to serve as examples only; yet, the present author trusts that most of the relevant material will be found by using the annotations of the works cited here.



At the time this paper was first prepared the present writer was still unaware of J.P. Meier’s A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. I-II New York 1991-94, who offers a lengthy study of Jesus’ miracles in vol. II (the following references will all be to that vol ume); one may say more than half of the volume is dedicated to this question. Meier’s view and the following meet at several points with one basic difference: His treatment is more learned and


more fully annotated. Yet, it may be hoped that different attitudes may elucidate the problem. Note esp. his chapter on ‘miracle and magic’, pp. 537-575. Meier rightly emphasizes the distinctiveness of the miracles in the gospels versus those in acts: p. 565 n. 47. For a thorough account of the single reports (including acts) and a fair comparison to ancient ãmagic” see now B. Kollmann, Jesus und die Christen als WundertŠter. Studien zu Magie, Medizin und


Schamanismus in Antike und Christentum. Gšttingen 1996 (FRLANT 170). See also J. Engemann, ‘Zur Verbreitung magischer Ÿbelabwehr in der nicht christlichen und christlichen SpŠtantike.’ JAC 18, 1975, pp. 22-48 with further bibliography. 3 See, e.g., C.S. Lewis, Miracles: A preliminary Study. London/Glasgow 1947 = 1964; R. und M. Hengel, ‘Die Heilungen Jesu und medizinisches Denken.’ ( Medicus Viator. FS R. Siebeck hrsg. v. P. Christian und D. Ršssler. TŸbingen/Stuttgart 1959, pp. 331-361 =) Der Wunderbegriff im Neuen Testament. Hrsg. v. A. Suhl. Darmstadt 1980 (WdF 295), pp. 338-373; M.A. H. Melinsky, Healing Miracles: An Examination from the History and Experience of the Place of Miracle in Christian Thought and Medical Practice. London 1968; G.H. Boobyer, ‘The Gospel Miracles: Views Past and Present.’ The Miracles and the Resurrection : Some Recent Studies by


M. Mach, Jesus’ Miracles in Context


for these specific parts of the gospels: With the acceptance of the religionsgeschichtliche Schule we find, e.g., Fiebig’s collection of rabbinic miracle stories4 (however criticized by later scholars) and Otto Weinreich’s rich study of Hellenistic healing miracles - mainly based upon the Epidauros inscriptions5. 5 With the existentialistic interpretation came R. Bultmann’s study 6 and later form critical studies like that of G. Thei§en7. The list goes on8.

I.T. Ramsey e.a. London 1964 (Theological Collections 3), pp. 31-49; E. and M.-L. Keller, Miracles in Dispute: A Continuing Debate. Philadelphia 1969; C. Brown, Miracles and the Critical Mind. Grand Rapids/Exeter 1984; R.B. Mullin, Miracles and the Modern Religious Imagination. New Haven/London 1996; C. S. Evans, The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith:


The Incarnational Narrative as History. Oxford 1996, esp. pp. 137-169; R.D. Geivett/G.R. Habermas (eds.), In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God’s Action in History. Downers Grove/IL. 1997 (incl. D. Hume’s basic essay). 4 P. Fiebig, Rabbinische Wundergeschichten des neutestamentlichen Zeitalters. Berlin 1933 (KlT 78); the parallel volume including the pagan miracle stories has been re-edited by G. Delling, Antike Wundertexte. 2. A. Berlin 1960 (KlT 79). More specific, yet, still within a ãreligionsgeschichtliche” comparison is R. Aus, Water into Wine and the Beheading of John the Baptist: Early Jewish-Christian Interpretation of Ester 1 in John 2:1-11 and Mark 6:17-29. Atlanta 1988 (BJS 150). 5 O. Weinreich, Antike Heilungswunder. Untersuchungen zum Wunderglauben der Griechen und Ršmer. Giessen 1909 (= Berlin 1969; RVV 8/1); cp. idem, ‘TŸršffnung in Wunder-, Prodigien- und Zauberglauben der Antike, des Judentums und Christentums.’ Genethliakon W. Schmidt. Stuttgart 1929 (TBAW 5), pp. 200-264. Weinreich’s studies have changed the earlier attempt of R. Reitzenstein, Hellenistische WundererzŠhlungen. Leipzig 1906 (= Darmstadt 1963). The inscriptions from Epidauros have recently been re-edited by L.R. LiDonnici, The




Epidaurian Miracle Inscriptions: Text, Translation and Commentary. Atlanta 1995 (SBL.TT 36). Cp. also A. Krug, Heilkunst und Heilkult. Medizin in der Antike. MŸnchen 1985, pp. 134-141, who stresses the psychosomatic aspects. 6 ‘Zur Frage des Wunders.’ Idem, Glauben und Verstehen. I, 5th ed. TŸbingen 1964, pp. 214228; idem, Jesus. TŸbingen 1983 (orig. 1926), pp. 118-123. Urchristliche Wundergeschichten. Ein Beitrag zur formgeschichtlichen Erforschung der synoptischen Evangelien. GŸtersloh 1974 (StNT 8); cp. also Semeia 11: Early Christian Miracle Stories. Edt. by R.W. Funk. Missoula 1978, which is mostly discussing Thei§en’s book or else developing it further. For a later study in this direction see R. Kratz, Rettungswunder. Motiv-, traditions- und formgeschichtliche Aufarbeitung einer biblischen Gattung. Frankfurt/M. e.a.




1979 (EHS 23/123); for some specific elements often connected to miracle stories (though not to them alone) see T. Dwyer, The Motif of Wonder in the Gospel of Mark . Sheffield 1996 (JSNT.SS 128). 8 Redactional-Criticism has been employed, e.g., by K. Kertelge, Die Wunder Jesu im Markusevangelium. MŸnchen 1970 (StANT 23); cp. further U. Busse, Die Wunder des Propheten Jesus. Die Rezeption, Komposition und Interpretation der Wundertraditionen im Evangelium des


E. Ep 138. Ashe is able to still state ãMiracles are not Magic. pp. have often seen Jesus as one of the 15 magicians. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs. For a summary interpretation of Smith see M. For early Christian literature shortly thereafter cp. Broadhead. Stuttgart 1988 (SBS).. Essays on Religion and the Ancient World. Narrative structures and the role of miracles for christology guard E. 160- 20 173. San Francisco e. ‘Jesus of Nazareth. pp. 102-11. pp. Sheffield 1997 (JSNT.’ The Jewish Encyclopedia VII. pp. Contra Celsum 1.’ Idem.a.” (p. Teaching with Authority: Miracles and Christology in the Gospel of Mark. The miracle stories Lukas. and esp. Smith stresses not only the possible connections between the miracle stories attributed to Jesus and the magical papyri. Ashe’s Miracles. e. Z. The problem might already be felt behind some New Testament passages. The very same year that Smith published his work appeared G. pp. Garrett. Smith offered his thesis already earlier in his The 10 Secret Gospel: The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark. Schenke. Divine Institutions 5. Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee. pp. 18. Augustin. 25). London. Benko.E. M. Origen. 167.’ The Apocryphal Acts of Peter: Magic. see Ps-Clemens Recognitiones 3. Bšcher. Cp. the claim occurs also in the manuscripts of BT Sanhedrin 43a. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 3 One of the most influential books has been Morton Smith’s Jesus the Magician9. though in the second instance it is missing in the printed version. 13-24. No doubt. pp. Stewart. 179-181. 103-139: ‘Magic and Early Christianity. pp. Pesch hrsg. cp. ‘Paul and the Magus. 1978 = 1981. yet. Vledder.171 and more recently Kollmann (above). Stuttgart 1977 (FzB 24). L. pagan ones. sociological methods are the basic tools for E. New York e. FS W.’ Studien zum 25 MatthŠusevangelium. S. S.D. 28. Conflict in the Miracle Stories: A socio-exegetical study of Matthew 8 and 9.107b.. Pagan Rome and the Early Christians. 57. Luisville 1998.a. Krauss.A. The Demise of the Devil . Powell. Misset- 30 van de Weg. ‘MatthŠus und die Magie.-J. 1973. further S. but seeks to understand a whole list of data reported in the gospels as either depicting Jesus in the public role of a 5 ma/go or polemizing against such accusations. 24) since the higher order of magic is indeed science (p. v. R. esp. for the Paul of acts (and ancient magic at large) see A. Meier (above) stresses the point that charges against Jesus as magician are not found in the gospels and cannot be dated prior to Justin Martyr: pp. . ‘“For the Lord always takes Care of his Own. I-II Oxford 1972. Nock.K. The first chapter is entitled ‘Magicians and Talking Animals’. see. 551 sqq. Sheffield 5 9 1992 (JSNT. pp. Edt. 115-6. Minneapolis 1989. contemporaries. Miracles and Gnosticism..SS 74). Jerusalem 1975. 5658. 308-330. Not only the christological title ‘son of god’ but considerable parts of Jesus’ trial before Pilate are interpreted as evidence for the public understanding of Jesus as a magician. Mach.SS 152).g. Lactancius. Urbach.’ Yet. Magic and the Demonic in Luke’s Writings.M.” The Purpose of the Wondrous Works and Deeds in the Acts of Peter. for parallel observations for Matthew see already O. I. Yet. Bloomington/In 1986.20.3.

. on the other side there are some scholars who seem to approve Smith’s view at least when it comes to the miracle stories. The Myth of the Magus. MacRae). For further critique on Smith and his predecessors cp. Edt. G. A Study in Sociohistorical Method.B. Kee. D. p. is fully aware of the ancient accusations of Jesus as magician. e. ‘Magic in Early Christianity. Hull’s book is much less sensational than that of Smith: He starts with a historical introduction to the history of scholarly research in ancient 10 magic literature and proceeds carefully step by step. Sanders. Honi and Haninah. 10 In this respect Smith goes far beyond J. 28). SchŸssler-Fiorenza. pp. 2nd ser. E.’ ANRW II/23.” (p. Jesus and Judaism. pp. Frerichs. 1539.g. pp. 66sqq. 6-8 for a fair treatment. 142). Jesus the Exorcist: A Contribution to the Study of the Historical Jesus. Neusner. pp. We do not find Jesus portrayed in the gospels as waving a wand. Kee. It is endlessly Leuven 1998. esp.’ and S. H. Cambridge e. 190-207 with rich annotation. 97-110. esp. esp. Medicine. Butler.M. later on (pp. J. pp. Smith’s thesis was not universally accepted.SP 1976 (edt. P. though scholars felt that Smith had reopened a basic difficulty for discussion. pp. Aune. Bremmer. ‘A Problem of Power: How Miracle Doers Counter Charges of Magic in 5 the Hellenistic World. Hellenistic Magic and the Synoptic Tradition. E. H. N.’ Religion. ‘Magic and Messiah. 156-175. If the picture of Jesus as magician would have been so clear one could hardly 25 understand why in a large scale history about magic Jesus is counted for as a dominant reason for its downfall: E. E. Science and Magic in Concern and in Conflict . Garrett.’ EvTh 43.’ Aspects of Religious Propaganda in Judaism and Early Christianity. McCracken Flesher. 121-141 and 142-165 resp. TŸbingen/Peabody 1993.C.2. Miracle in the Early Christian World. also A. ‘Light on a Dark Subject and Vice Versa: Magic and Magicians 20 in the New Testament.M. were magicians. One might even say it was quite often rejected11. Miracle and Magic in New Testament Times .’ SBL.. Kolenkow. idem. 30 . 165-9) Sanders though unsatisfied by Smith’s thesis would like not to deny the magical character of the miracles . After his study the miracle stories should enter more fully into the 5 theologies of the New Testament: Jesus’ words alone will hardly do 12. So. too.S. 15 11 ‘Jesus und die antike Magie.P. pp. See recently. Smith. edt.J. Hull. New Haven/London 1983 and others. mumbling an elaborate incantation or carrying out the kind of magical ritual familiar in the papyri.R. Edt. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 4 form only a part of the whole argument10. Achtemeier.he would just insist that Jewish eschatology offers closer grounds for their explanation. Jesus der Magier. Mach. Bemerkungen zu M. G. Berlin/New York 1980. Therefore. 12 Cp. P. 1986. In a similar direction D. Cambridge 1948 (=1993). On broader terms cp.a. 1507-1557.E.g. London 1974 (SBT. pp. pp. Nevertheless he.C.M. Philadelphia 1985. he can conclude ãThe results of our investigation must not be exaggerated.-A. H. 1983. e. 149-186. Crossan: “Elijah and Elisha. J. ‘Jesus and the Disciples as Miracle Workers in the Apocryphal New Testament. who seeked to interprete Jesus’ miracles in the light of ancient magic in restriction to the miracle stories. J. B Ÿhner. by J. and so was Jesus of Nazareth. Notre Dame/London 1976. 105-111. Yet. Twelftree..V. New York/Oxford 1989.

Chicago/London 1992. there seems to be still some need of clarification: everyone familiar with the magical papyri and with the gospels feels not only the common side that links miracles to magic activity. Mach.g. pp. Betz (ed. Edinburgh 1991. The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. pp. pp. p. pp. Supplementum Magicum. The following discussion aims at clarifying both sides a bit more concretely. Maltomini. For a critical evaluation of Crossan’s work cp. Pernigotti.’. For an overview cp. The first mentioning of the term ma/go in Greek lit13 The Historical Jesus. the publication of hitherto unknown material goes on. Those readers of the different corpora 10 are also aware of some differences. pp. 40-41 and Kee.. hrsg. Brashear. v. Die Griechischen Zauberpapyri hrsg. F. however. Abrasax. ‘Il Codice Copto: tavv. 6. 2. v. pp. Preisendanz. 1979 which contains: S. Vermes does by no means subscribe to the claim of magic! See his The Religion of Jesus the Jew. Papyri Graecae Magicae. Jesus. Jesus the Jew: A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels. 19-53.M. A.”13 Smith based his observations mainly upon the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM) of 5 the Preisendanz collection14. 315. Opladen 1990-92 (PapyCol 17/1-3). 125-130. K. Kollmann (above). the rabbinic 10 14 material. Vermes. the English translation of these texts includes the Demotic parts of the papyri which Preisendanz had chosen to neglect: H. though he seems to be too skeptical reg. 83-99 and Kollmann (above).W. it seems necessary to briefly address the problem of definitions involved15. San Francisco 1994. Opladen 1990-92 (PapyCol 16/1-2). 55-124. Crossan entered into the discussion of defining the terms. mit Erg. I-II Stuttgart 1973-74. Ÿbers. pp. Maltomini. A. 24-26. 1986 (above). for some interpretations see R.). Minneapolis 1993. I-III. verb. and Haninah. P. I-III . pp.. The description quoted above as Jesus comparable to Honi and Hanina is in general more 5 suitable to some modern Jewish attempts to understand Jesus’ miracles. Preisendanz durchg. ‘The Greek Magical Papyri: an Introduction and Sur- . 2nd ed. e. Yet. Yet. 104. W. ‘I Papiri 20 15 Greci.’. I-II. Daniel and F. p.M. u. Totti. Greek Magical Papyri in translation including the Demotic 15 Spells. Merkelbach and M. see. Crossan dealt more with the rabbinic accounts of Honi. these are not restricted to motifs and the outer appearance of ancient magicians as opposed to Jesus but seem to be of a more general kind. K. u. II 15 At the beginning. 69-80. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 5 fascinating to watch Christian theologians describe Jesus as miracle-worker rather than magician and then attempt to define the substantive difference between these two. his grandsons. Henrichs. G.V sec. cf. Powell (above). ‘I Frammenti Aramaici. Pieces that have occurred after the edition of Preisendanz are for a larger part edited by R. London 1973. 80-82. For some critical remarks to Vermes cp.D.’. also idem. Marrassini. A Revolutionary Biography. Yet. Note also SCPr 29. p. 36-38.

Annotated Bibliography (1928-1994)’. 1987.’ NTS 33. 135-140 for a superb 5 discussion of the relations between magic and miracles in general terms. Walter. 15389). Grand Rapids 1993. Moule. Leiden 1975. however.. 44-47. further A. A.H. see also his ‘The Apocalypse of John and Graeco-Roman Revelatory Magic. 44-51. Hegel was more influential for modern times: in his lectures about the philosophy of vey.’ Idem. Luck. I 107. 481-501. New York/Oxford 1991. F. pp.A. G. Cambridge/Ma 1997. they are in charge for correct funeral ceremonies: I 140. It is interesting to note that at its first occurrence the term was used for ‘others’17. According to this account they differ from the Egyptian priests and other human beings by their practice to kill nearly every living being besides dogs and humans and eat all kinds of snakes etc. N.’ Miracles: Cambridge Studies in Their Philosophy and History edt. G. 3380-3684 and pp. ‘Hellenistic Magic: Some Questions of Definition. ‘La magia copta: I testi. pp. Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds. 79-108. by C. I 132 relates that Persians offer their sacrifices and a ma/go sings the theogonic song at that ma/goi16. D. McDonald. it seems that G. 113 we find them sacrificing and according to VII 191 such a rite combined with the singing of spells (kataei/donte) stills the winds. 3685-3730 resp. Hahn. Obbink (eds. pp.D. pp. Ferguson. Hrsg. that still sounds very much a modern Christian view: Late antiquity used magic so openly that Church fathers had good reasons to 30 . the same view is shared by E. Holtz. ‘Herodotus on the Miraculous.’ Both in: ANRW II 18/5.). Graf. Aune. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 6 erature is by Herodotos who describes a priestly clan or function in Babylonian religion . According to I 101 they are a Median tribe (III 69-80 relates the uprising of two members of the tribe). S. pp. 212-3. 83-91. London 1965. Apuleius of Madauros: The Isis Book (Metamorphoses.’ Idem. For Herodotus own view on miracles cp.F. For a brief summary of Aune’s view see his Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World. 17 In sociological terms Aune (above) defines magic as religious deviance (art. From here the term entered into the modern vocabulary.E. F. pp. Not withstanding the use of the ancients. However. for a 25 general evaluation of the miraculous in ancient sources cp. VII 15 43. 120 and VII 19 they interpret dreams (since they failed to do so correctly these specific interpreters are crucified: I 128) and VII 37 the eclipse of the sun. Pernigotti. 1987 (BJS 127).justly as it were . Griffiths.F.. 482. Grand Rapids 1983. Studien zum Neuen Testament und zum hellenistischen Judentum. ‘Magic’ (above). Mach. Segal. here: p. 20 Already Apuleius could re-call the Persian origin of the word in order to defend himself: Apology 25-26. pp. the negative connotation is attested as early as in 5 Plato’s writings18. Yet. pp. For his understanding of magic and miracles cp. Magic in the Ancient World. ‘Zur Beurteilung des Wunders in der Antike. J. Gšttingen 1970.M. Hull (above) and the studies in C. The Other Judaisms of Late Antiquity . Book XI). pp. Atlanta. v. Faraone/D. pp. 53-71. Berlin/New York 1995. cit. T. G. Delling. Magika 10 16 Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic and Religion. F. Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Baltimore/London 1985 = 1992. esp.

What in his view rightly might be called religion is already a second stage characterized by an inner distance of the human conscience. 45-59. pp. Mach. Remus. let us say the European/North-American Christian one. 103 and 106 resp. Gie§en 1908 (RVV IV 2). Menon 80b and other sources. Only during the last decades was it stressed that magic cannot. 1996.G. by H. After all the ma/goi of Herodotos are priests.’ Envisioning Magic. and more often). privacy etc. Goldin. pp. Lieberman. the Egyptian temple15 personal included normally one priest for magical tasks 20. pp. 115-148. also VIII 19 etc. by P. ‘Magic and Religion in Ancient Judaism. pp. S. The story of Moses and the Egyptian magicians has often informed this kind of argument. S. Die Apologie des Apuleius von Madaura und die antike Zauberei . 18 See Graf (above). pp. also A. We do not have to discuss Hegel’s general structure of the 5 phenomenon of religion. BeitrŠge zur ErlŠuterung der Schrift de magica. Abt.e. Pedayah. Ferguson has the chapter about ãDemons and Superstition” following the one concerning magic: Backgrounds (above). SchŠfer. ancient Egypt or Babylon. esp. 531-551. SchŠfer and H. R. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 7 religion (between 1821 and 1831) he used the term ‘magic’ for denoting a prereligious level of development. 91-114 still treated references to magical practices as ãcurrent practices” and ãsuperstitions” (pp. Noegel. note I. be distinguished from the realm of religion.. 20 20 Cp. pp. .’ JANES 24. pp. Secrecy. Yet. Greek in Jewish Palestine. K. 19-43.’ Myth in Judaism. pp.. esp. Cp. Nock. X 8-12. The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. 15-28 (Hebr. e. Gruenwald’s attack against such a usage at least for the 5 10 15 rabbinic literature: ‘The Magic and the Myth: Scholarship and Historical Reality. Suffice it to remark that from here on the concept ‘magic’ as a primitive level of religion has governed not a few discussions of the term19. H. See now. is a form of religious life.g.’ Aspects (above). Civ.Dei. Edt.M. A Princeton Seminar and Symposium.B. the Egyptian background of Moses’ magic was normally dismissed. Leiden 1997 (SHR 75). 32sqq. ‘Moses and Magic: Notes on the Book of Exodus. Paul (above). yet. Beer Sheva 1996 (Eshel Beer Sheva 4). pp. 364b. the lengthy discussion by Augustin. religious officials. New York 1965. pp. ‘Does Terminology Distinguish Early Christian from Pagan Miracles?’ JBL 101. 1982. Ritner. For the question of terminology cp. and opens up for least once one leaves a given cultural setting. i. pp. Edt. 220sqq. 129-138. ‘The Magic of Magic and Superstition. at least not historically or phenomenologically. like e. but cp. 10 Magic or what conventionally has been called so. see. For the ambiguity of Jewish magicians between his magic material and biblical ãmonotheism” see also J. 19 For some of the theories following Frazer’s Golden Bough see P.) with references to earlier scholarship. are fight it. Chicago 1993 (SAOC 54). Kippenberg. 309sqq. Most attempts to describe magic as opposed to religion have failed . 22-25 basing his discussion upon Rep.

147-155. ‘Fragments from a Catabasis Ritual in a Greek Magical Papyrus. New York/London 1987. esp. the corpus of witnesses envisaged here comes very close to the definition given by H. Jerusalem 1993. decided.’ The 5 22 Encyclopedia of Religion. San Francisco 1994. Kropp. above. M.D. AusgewŠhlte koptische Zaubertexte. too. I: Published Texts of known Provenance. Jerusalem 1987 and their Magic Spells and Formulae: Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity. Copper and Bronze Lamellae. 26 Up to now these are only partly published. Meier. therefore. ‘Magic in Greco-Roman Antiquity. Bruxelles 1930-31. 2nd ed. pp. See also H. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 8 not really characteristics that distinguish them from other priests as magicians. pp.J. the Hebrew and Aramaic amulets and bowls25 as well as magical material from the Genizah 26. 538 sqq. 93-97. Amulets and Magic Bowls: Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity. I-III. (The magical literature 15 considered here is by nature very conservative and allows for only minor changes throughout centuries22): The PGM should be supplemented by the Greek magical amulets23. Incidentally. the Coptic magical papyri24. Aufs.M. Smith. namely what other corpora of texts we should like to include under that heading besides the PGM. ‘Jesus’ Theurgic Powers: Parallels in the Talmud and Incantation Bowls.M. Shaked. pp.D.’ idem. M. pp. Mach. If we will nevertheless use the term ‘magic’ for this discussion. Some texts are included in the two volumes by 10 15 .’ JJS 28. Eliade. For some interesting parallels between the Aramaic incantation bowls and Jesus’ exorcisms as well as for the usage of Jesus’ name in some of these see M. Naveh/S. 540-7). as a magician has quite defined forms of ãmagic” in mind. Hellenismus und Urchristentum. He stayed with the PGM alone (ibid. though the sheer historical connection to the world of the gospels is not necessarily as close in each case. p. Edt. 141-155. Coptic Texts of Ritual Power. IX. Silver. Another group of texts 21 An overall definition of magic seems to be very problematic (see also Meier. 1977. TŸbingen 1990. Meyer/R. 24 25 A. Ges. Geller. We are 5 going to look for texts that are culturally and historically related to early Christianity since the claim that Jesus was understood. Ancient Christian Magic. at least by outsiders. For our purpose we will take the PGM as 10 starting point for such a system of symbols and cults21. Kotansky.that belongs to the dogmatics of each given religion. J. 23 R. Opladen 1994 (PapyCol 22/1). It might be suggested that the following should be included. It is clear that by such a use of the term no pejorative undertone should be included . we will call by that name those religious traditions that characterize certain texts and their symbol systems as well as the actual practices reflected by these texts. vol. 155 the ãNachtrag”! See also Hull (above). Greek Magical Amulets: The Inscribed Gold. Betz. Betz. 20-27. to restrict his comparisons to a limited corpus. This leads to another question.

‘Magic and Religion’ (above). Cp. F. ‘Art. allowing for certain concessions only in regard to the Babylonian Talmud (hence force: BT) because of the Persian influence at that time: Der Aberglaube und die Stellung des Judenthums zu demselben. Jo‘l could still deny any magic in the Bible and the Mishna. M. ‘The Depiction of Magic in Rabbinic Texts: The Rabbinic and the Greek Concept of Magic. . Only a few years before Blau’s study D. rabbinic magical texts have become more prominent in recent times.M.C.’ JSJ 17. Das altjŸdische Zauberwesen. Magische Texte aus der Kairoer Geniza. Tiede. Urbach (above). ‘Jesus as Divine Man. Georgi could summarize this approach such: ãIn short. D. see E. AnsŠtze zu einem empirischen Wissenschaftbegriff im 15 spŠtantiken und frŸhmittelalterlichen Judentum. ‘Incantations and Books of Magic.C. Alexander. Goodman. 28 Based upon the study of L. P. Edinburgh 1986. H. For an overview of the relevant Jewish texts see also P. 289-303. Blau. the possibility to overcome the laws of nature (and of society) by certain practices. 1996. I-II. True enough. however. his share in God’s dominion and power enables the qeiÃo ajnh/r to perform miracles.” The Opponents of Paul in Second Corinthians. Add now also the recent 5 27 re-edition of ‘Moses’ Sword’ by Y.DS 1).D. 342-379 with rich 20 bibliographies on the corpora mentioned above. 114-135. 266-269 for the interrelations between magic. Trotter: Philadelphia: Westminster.64) . TŸbingen 1994-1997 (TSAJ 42.’ Jesus and the Historian. The subject has won a book-length study by G. esp. Budapest 1899 [repr. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 9 consists of the Talmudic references to magical devices27. ‘Science and Magic.’ Religion. The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 B. pp.a further volume is in preparation. So much so that the figure of a ‘divine man’ ( qeivo ajnh/r) could emerge. Breslau 1881-83.’ In: E. 1968. Biehler. by others28. Magie und Halakha. Science and Magic (above). These magical texts share with the miracles reported in the gospels at least two presuppositions: first. and an essay. Hebrew and Aramaic Incantation Texts from the Cairo Genizah : Selected Texts from Taylor-Schechter Box K 1. FS 25 30 E. TŸbingen 1997 (TSAJ 62) with further bibliography and a rich analysis of relevant texts. by F.: Berlin 1914]. Shiffman/M.’ RAC 12. The Charismatic Figure as Miracle Worker. Betz. Sperber. the involvement of a human person 5 different from the god/s that ultimately allow the performances. SchŠfer.E. Neusner.D.]. Jerusalem 1997 [Hebr. New English version rev. 3/1.-A. B. Miracle and Magic in Formative Judaism: The System and the Difference. vol. 135) . QEIOS ANHR. was rejected.D. a. Mach. the person that feels or at least claims to be able to bring about those changes is very often believed to have a closer relation to the divine. pp. Kern-Ulmer. Colwell edt. 1983. Shaked. Wien 1935-36 = Darmstadt 1976. 61-81. Magic and Folklore in Rabbinic Literature . 97-123: Magic and Miracle. This Greek concept has attracted not a few New Testament scholars. and second. pp. Veltri. Sheffield 1992. Urchristentum). Swartz.L. D. Sch Ÿrer. G. J. Missoula 1972 = 1973 (SBL. Naveh/Shaked (previous note) others are collected by L. 234-312. New ed. further D. Bar-Ilan 10 1994. Das Bild des ãgšttlichen Menschen” in SpŠtantike und FrŸhchristentum. Gottmensch II (Griechisch-r šmische Antike u. Harari. pp. I-II.T. First studied by J. idem. SchŠfer und S. miracle and the divine man (thought without any effort to distinguish the first two).H. edt. Moses’ Sword.S. Vermes. P. Millar.

158-204. p. as is well known. PGM XIII 795). Trajectories through Early Christianity. Jesus. duTroit.R. pp. O. 229-240). whether or not they will be performed at each such occasion. Leiden 1972 [NT.S. zur biblischen Theologie. these religious activities as related in both sets of literature are mostly not repeated but independent from a cultic calendar. 545. on closer comparison neither are these magical texts really comparable to the gospels nor are the magicians an equivalent to Jesus’ public work: It is apparent from the outside that the magical literature is quite different from the gospels.. .P. Der Messias Israels. desire for wealth or 5 the wish to know the future and other hidden things. the literary forms are incomparable: an ongoing story of Jesus’ 15 public work and preaching up to his death on the one side versus either magical collections of different adjurations. TŸbingen 1997 (WUNT II/91). unfulfilled love. FS A. (e. It offers hope for those who desire that change whether the problem lies in illness. Most recently the concept has been studied again by D. esp. Jesus never performed a miracle by writing amulets and the like. 5 187-193. Moreover. see also his ‘Socioeconomic Reasons for the “Divine Man” as a Propagandistic Pattern. Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: Some Aspects of Religious Experience from Marcus Aurelius to 15 29 Constantine. 548. 273-284 (orig. Koester entitles a sub-chapter in his ‘One Jesus and Four Primitive Gospels’ as ãJesus the Divine Man (Aretalogies)”: J. Betz. Whether or not the miracle-worker is understood as a ãdivine man” is remains clear that the ancient magicians saw themselves as directly connacted to a divine power. Some of these magical texts include more theoretical reflections. Zur Verwendung von Ye”ow Änyvpow und sinnverwandten 10 AusdrŸcken in der Literatur der Kaiserzeit. He does not seem to have 20 kept any kind of magical lists about what to do against certain illnesses etc. pp. Kollmann (above). Jesus’ Miracles in Context 10 We will not enter into that discussion here. Philadelphia 1971. First. 128. But the later instances are quite rare in the magical literature and are 10 totally lacking in the accounts of Jesus’ miracles. Cambridge1965 (= 1990). pp. Mach. This concept is expressed by formulas like ãThou art I and I am Thou” etc. Koester. H.: Studies in the New Testament and Early Christian Literature .M. For a similar conclusion see also Meier (above).29 What remains to be compared are therefore other elements: the actual practice at Philadelphia 1986. Cp.’ Aspects (above). E. pp. Aufs. though at least some of the magical rites are restricted to certain times.S 33]. However. g. 311. pra/xei etc. Wikgren. Robinson/H. The human ability to change what otherwise seems to be an unchangeable fact of life is the most obvious link between miracles and magical texts. p. However. 27-42. to be used according to need or actually used formula such as the amulets or bowls.’ Idem.M. TŸbingen 1987 (WUNT 42). 72sqq. Theios Anthropos. Dodds. however. ‘The Concept of the So-Called “Divine Man” in Mark’s Christology. see.

Preisendanz. 3333-3379. Lightstone. the actual motivation for performing the miracle or the magic act. Yet. For the cultural exchanges see . Even if the later copyist does not understand the names he is writing.’ Envisioning Magic (above). I. The Commerce of the Sacred: Mediation of the Divine among Jews in the Greco-Roman Diaspora. Chico 1984 (BJS 59). “works always” etc. the fine examples of Hebrew blessing formulas in Greek amulets 15 provided by Kotansky (see above). pp. whole liturgical formulas etc. See already K. It is only natural. pp. then. here esp. III Let us first take a look at the corpus of literature that has been indicated above as what seems to fit a set of magical texts. I would like to address some larger issues that bind this corpus together.N. Therefore. pp. Mach. Ritner could 5 claim the bulk of the magical papyri nearly exclusively for the Egyptian religion of the Roman era: ‘Egyptian Magical Practice under the Roman Empire: the Demotic Spells and their Religious Context. pp. wherefore we quite often find the advertising note “proven”. 454-462. the words spoken during the performance of the miracle and. Smith.17-56 and cp. pp. 176-194. in some favor of Ritner’s ideas cp. throughout these texts. one finds 15 transcriptions of names. D. Given the mutual influences between magicians and magic traditions.D. pp.’ ANRW II 18/5.’ Idem. 99-114 (see there for further articles on the subject by the same author). he will attempt to reproduce his Vorlage precisely.H. S. 187-190. Sperber.’ JSJ 16. ‘The Jewish Elements in the Magical Papyri. p. Folge. that have proven effective will be repeated in a most conservative manner.D.260-71). pp.SP. 1985. pp. further the witness of the ‘classical’ authors one wonders how R. In such a setting the boundaries of religion and culture become irrelevant 31. practices etc.K. 545. H. A further element lies in the question for the ãSitz im Leben” of the different 5 writings. ‘Greek Magical Papyri. At the outset it seems necessary to stress again: 10 these texts aim at offering help for whatever human need turns up. Essays (above). 1986. V. that spells. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 11 the time of a miracle as against the prescriptions in the magical texts. ‘Some Rabbinic Themes in Magical Papyri. 3-12 and more often. J.M. 545sq. pp. . Meier (above). 1956. 25. Richards. 45-63. Betz.’ SBL. pp.’ MPSW n. these will be kept as exactly as possible. Nock. 111-125. pp. K. A.inter alia M. Magic and Folklore (see above). 93-103 = 10 idem. 30 If the spell works only by precise repetition of the words. Whether an (as it seems) pagan amulet-writer refers to some distinguished 20 features of the God of the Jews whose name he might already misspell or 30 31 See also Meier (above). last not least. edt. ‘Jewish Magic in the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM VII. ‘Zur synkretistischen Magie im r šmischen €gypten.

All nature quakes in fear of you. i. Down from Olympos. in: Betz (above) a. for an English translation see now M. The problem of the voces magicae is rightly stressed by Meier (above). it is hard if not totally impossible to find any religious system 32 Sepher Ha-Razim: A Newly Recovered Book of Magic from the Talmudic Period. 33 See Kotansky (above). loc. The Book of Mysteries. PAKERBETH. This is not sheer syncretism. or simply nomina barbara. angels etc. who rule heaven’s realm I call. Ritner. p. A. or the Syrian eagle with Helios. In other words. 15 20 In the continuation of this text ADONAIOS. great Zeus. the precise religion to which the act belongs is not considered any longer. From here we got the long lists of names of be it gods. these texts reflect religious acts . ELOAIOS. however. etc. Margalioth.M. What seems to be especially important for a fair 5 characterization of such texts is therefore the fact that these are not restricted by theological concerns: Truly. Sepher Ha-Razim. and you archangel Gabriel. O master leave mount Parnassos and the Delphic Pytho Whenever my priestly lips voice secret words First angel of [the God]. come gracious who view sunset from The dawn. Mach. So R.. K. rituals. there is an outstanding lack of theoretic . are essential. angels. M. Chico 1983 (SBL.TT 25/ PS 11). Father of the world. No attempt is made to systematize the different deities. ADONAI. demons of men.. Jerusalem 1996 [Hebr.if one wishes to call it so 30 theological concern: the act might be religious insofar as deities. e. one has to believe and there are a lot of rituals involved. Take for example the following chant from an Apollonian invocation (PGM I 267ff): O Lord Apollo. Michael.]. IAO And you. pp.556.however. delighting In dawns. come with Paian Give answer to my questions. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 12 whether Coptic papyri (which are mostly Christian!) refer to all kinds of pagan deities is important only in one respect: the respective formula is believed to help in a given situation. and a 25 sequence of signs that might mean “Thoth the great” 34 are mentioned. Lord. Ed. Morgan. This may be illustrated by the famous quotation of a prayer directed to Helios in Sefer ha-Razim 32 or a Jewish 10 benediction formula in Greek letters on an amulet from first century Britain 33. 5 34 . 3-12. Abrasax. Take as a counter-example the identification of the Ephesian goddess of fertility with Aphrodite.

he understands as system whatever modern scholars may deduce as such . they are missing in the gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ miracles.but no system 35. e. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 13 of symbols. whether recipe-books. actual spells. However. Even the few ingredients used are totally normal ones (see below). is the conscious combination of most strange elements. the richness of the voces magicae is more than an enrichment for liturgical practice. Yet. They belong to the recipe-lists and will reoccur only in the least in the historical and cultural setting that interests us here. not only names but also ingredients for the different parts of the ritual. pp.M. The magical usefulness of these ingredients may be open to doubt.not the inherent systematization of a larger symbol-system. spells etc. to be filled up. by now.. Mach. are private ones which served a limited 35 Hull could deal with the ãsystem of magical belief” (above. Magical prayers tend sometimes to add words after words. One might even say. yet. i. At a different level these magical texts are outstanding when compared to other 10 types of religious literatures . these magical texts are full of elements that stress 15 strange features. Just the strange names add a certain dimension. however. What counts is the promise that certain acts. storax gum. and pour a libation of wine and honey and milk and rain-water [and make] 7 flat cakes and 7 round cakes. Take as an example the burnt offering from the same Apollonian invocation (PGM I 285ff): 20 The burnt offering is a wolf’s eye. specific cures that fit one instance or others. The same lack of systematic coherence is felt once we are not confronted with a specific amulet or bowl but with the lists of recipes where some practices or 5 spells that work for the same purpose are simply listed one after the other. What seems to be at work here. One does not find the ancient magicians (besides perhaps some later texts from the Cairo Genizah) dealing with theoretical deliberations about preferences. and whatever is valued among the spices. spell-formulas to be used later. 25 Most naturally such lists of basic materials are foreign to actual amulets and bowls. that these magical texts. bowls etc. Symbols are there . 37-42). On a quite different basis another feature of the texts deserves a remark: It should 30 be clear. . cassia. will work. balsam gum. Precisely the fact that these ingredients are totally uncommon makes the elementum fascinosum.

There is no reason to ascertain that a miracle is magical if it 5 37 has no cause but the will of the miracle worker (Hull. 549sqq . there are some relations between magic and mystery cults (which brings the magic texts again closer to secrecy). the problem of secrecy is a real one. 1995 (SHR). This observation is to be kept distinct as opposing ãmagicians” in office.yet. These are mostly under certain controls! 10 We do not want to claim thereby that magic is distinguished from religion by privacy etc. and . not a few of the practices noted in the PGM must be performed in secrecy or else at times and places where other people are hardly to be expected37. No doubt. above. we must be aware of the difference between private documents and those of the official representatives of a certain religion. also . pp. some forms of authority even within the PGM . 54).D. 153-175. Betz. On the other side. 173-183. ‘The Formation of Authoritative Tradition in the Greek Magical Papyri. For the whole problem see H. the less they can be controlled by an official authority 36. Even when sold in public the text remains to be personal belonging of the buyer.’ idem. Meier (above). be it an individual or a family. ‘Secrecy in the Greek Magical Papyri. pp. Stroumsa. Kippenberg and G. pp. 209-229. ‘Magic and Mystery in the Greek Magical Papyri. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple. however.D. Such practices may occur mutatis mutandis in other cultures as part of the group’s ritual. Hellenismus und Urchristentum (above). I have said nothing in secret. the most meaningful parts 15 of Roman religious acts are just those performed at home. where all the Jews come together.G. Our point here is that. Why do you ask me? Ask those who 36 There are. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 14 number of magicians and their clients. Leiden e. The just discussed magical texts are kept away from the eyes of others.’ idem.’ Secrecy 10 and Concealment: Studies in the History of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Religions. The fact that we deal with private texts allows for 5 just that uncontrolled mixture of deities I would argue. since that miracle worker will always claim that the miracle was ultimately performed by some god(s). Mach. This is immediately understood for an amulet or bowl that includes the names of the clients.G. It is no less so with the lists of possible spells and practices kept by the magician for the case of need.M. Betz.for the tendency to recommend mostly strange. We will have to keep this characteristic 20 in mind when listening to Jesus’ answer to Hannas: “I have spoken openly to the world. pp. and still these are open to the whole family in the widest sense of the Roman familia. 546. The more private these texts are.a.D. H. Though at times part of the ãmagical ware” might be sold in market places. see H. Eds. these are by no means comparable to public readings in the community and the like. see H. Hellenismus und Urchristentum (above). sometimes wild ingredients. Betz. p. given a certain cultural framework.

p. wealth.and none of the stories really repeats itself (else we take literary 38 Yet. 389-402. They will not accomplish their task in his public mission if they are performed in secrecy. Smith related his claim mostly to the two rituals installed by Jesus. H. 10 41 42 Antike Heilungswunder (above). pp. “Das Verst Šndnis des 5 39 40 Wunders im Neuen Testament.’ in his Studien (above). in anguish from the forceful goads [sic]” (IV 2910f). no exact formula42 . p. Ristow und K. Berlin 1961. The motives range from love charms via vengeance to divination and hopes for an apotheosis. p. There is nothing spontaneous neither about the rituals nor about the words. as Smith points out. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 15 heard what I said to them. the lo/goi. Other wishes include a demon that may fulfill every wish. As a matter of fact.M. it need to be stressed. Delling. It belongs to their definition as rituals that they are repeatable and will cause the desired change each time they are practiced according to the 20 prescriptions. v.” (John 18:20-21) . there is something inherent in the miracles of Jesus that demands publicity. p. idem. see G. mostly the writing of amulets. and an eternal afterlife with the demon. This point seems to be totally different from the miracles related to Jesus: There is almost no preparation. The magic art is a combination of ritual and spoken (or written) words: pra/xi kai\ lo/go as Weinreich summarized41. 216. Mach. 146-159. 392. see also Ferguson (above). These wishes are fullfilled by a series of means. baptism and the eucharist. 38 Yet. 39 5 It seems. 136. the most important aspect 15 about these devices is that of the rituals involved 40. esp.’ Der historische Jesus und der kerygmatische Christus. 47. It is not as sure as sometimes supposed that the redaction of the ‘original’ material by the . See Luck (above). This link is more apparent in The Secret Gospel but it re-occurs in Jesus the Magician (above). the foretelling of the future. that answer might by understood in a different way as well. BeitrŠge zum ChristusverstŠndnis in Forschung und VerkŸndigung hrsg. pp.though. Yet. that Jesus’ healings and exorcisms are done in public. Even in the case of amulets or bowls we find a variety of rituals concerning their ‘rite’ preparation. M. Love charms are quite characteristic insofar as the actual 10 consent of the respective partner is totally neglected: Do that she/he will burn with love for me “driven by frenzy. The pra/xei are reported in detail and include every possible ritual act. that the actual wishes uttered in these magical texts are related to the private character of the documents: illness and demoniacal possession are by no means the only dangers to be averted by all kinds of practices. Matthiae. ‘Botschaft und Wunder im Wirken Jesu.

‘By the Power of Beelzebub: An Aramaic Incantation Formula from Qumran (4Q560).D.C. when compared to the two sets of literature addressed here . ‘Satan. 65-83: ‘De- 5 10 mons. ‘DAIMVN in Homer. 53-76. M. Bšcher. Studien (above.’ JBL 113.’ Miracles edt. 1965. e. It is never his own claim. by L.a. Penney and M. the accusation is neither within the contexts of magical papyri. Stuttgart 1970 (BWANT 90).C. pp. 1966.’ Mnen ser. we find Jesus in some cases as exorcist in others as healer. Wilford. Stuttgart (1972) (SBS 58). pp. however. 61-68.’ Numen 12. Bartlett. Smith.H. M. but not as calling 5 for the help of any demons. Kee. This is not the place to go into the details of this story that has been explored all too often. DŠmonenfurcht und DŠmonenabwehr. e. 241-270. 1-32 for an overview of the New Testament texts involved. Yet. G.’. W. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 16 repetition instead as.’ ABG 10. Moule (above). Lewiston e. be these demons or gods 43. for some relevant material from Qumran see D. Feldman and G. 33-67 for the Greek 15 44 background and pp. BŸhner (above). Only the Belzebub controversy 44 has it differently. One last point deserves our attention: Ancient magic is mostly based on the belief that the magician is able to employ certain powers. for the New Testament see.M. Mach. ‘Josephus und das 25 30 Wunderbare. MacRae. Ferguson. also in Jewish literature more contemporary to the Gospels. pp. Exorcism.Mythus bei Philon von Alexandrien. 1984 (Symposium Series.O. see Kollmann (above). pp. pp. D. to be sure. the rabbis could allow Solomon to built the temple with 20 their help etc. G. nor within rabbinic literature.’ and ‘Wunder . But here the opponents claim that Jesus is helped by the demons or their leader. 169.2. F. Demonology of the Early Christian World.Z. Delling. G.g. Oslo 1950 (SO.. MŸhl. IV If we turn from the actual magical texts to Rabbinic literature 45 the picture will evangelists is alone responsible for the absence of spell-formulas within the gospels. Detroit 1987. p. 45 The problem of ãmiracles” occurs.g. H. we cannot enter into this domain here.’ ANRW II/16. 3. 45-48.Allegorie . pp. ‘Miracle in the Antiquities of Josephus. 70..L. E.L. 174-182. Judaism. Fact and Faith. pp. Hata. by C. Cambridge 1985. and Christianity. Betz. 573 n. ‘Die traditionsgeschichtlichen Grundlagen in Platons Lehre von den DŠmonen. see meanwhile Hull (above). the feeding of the 5000 and of the 4000).’ both in idem. the Demonic.’ both in Josephus. yet. Burkert. ‘Miracles in the Writings of Flavius Josephus. ‘Towards Interpreting the Demonic Powers in Hellenistic and Roman Antiquity. pp. Das Neue Testament und die dŠmonischen MŠchte. 1978. 1994. Eitrem. O. van den Horst. note 15). Wise. O. 1942.SP 1974/I (edt. . Ein Beitrag zur Vorgeschichte der christlichen Taufe. pp. 10. J. 130-145 and 72-129 resp. and Salvation in the Testament of Job. P. ‘The Occult in Josephus.S 12). pp. Smith.’ S.’ SBL. Edt. MacRae). Cp. pp. the mightier the better.A. p. 12). 129-147. yet. ‘DAIMVN.F. The story might shed light upon the question how others interpreted Jesus’ miracles. The m‡goi are busy to call for the demons. Valley Forge 1975. Greek Religion. Meier (above). pp. 217-232. 212-235 and 236-256 respectively. Magic. idem. see esp. 425-439. Some Notes on the Demonology in the New Testament. pp.. 43 The difference between the two is not as well defined as post New Testament usage would suppose. 627-650. 179-181. pp..

because this is pagan practice . Besides some scattered references the bulk of Rabbinic material to be considered 5 here is concentrated at five places: TShab 6-7. Greek (above). Devices against illness. Even the spelling of words of the written law (e.D.l. Lieberman. shows clear theological intentions.not always 20 understood . on the other side. What follows in the Talmud is a list of all 15 kinds of illnesses and some possible devices against them . pp. a. 101. éøåîàä éëøã íå î47.and. are allowed. Mach. Lieberman. the Mishna. who already pointed out that every thing that heals does not qualify for an Emorite rite. 5 talmudic and midrashic texts. demons and sorcery. 230-261. p. For a different view see Lightstone (above). not indicate that such have not been part of the tannaitic discourse. Indeed. demons etc. p. 160-162: ãRezitation von Bibelversen und Heilformeln bei Krankheit”. 1) What are the items. BTPess 109b-112a. Kollmann (above). What is more important for our context is the general discussion towards the end of the talmudic context: Adjurations and other practices for personal luck. also Urbach (above). as the expression stands. New Testament scholars tend to pick up rabbinic dicta as isolated ones. one will not be allowed to use the later without inspecting its own aims. ‘Zum Problem der Auferstehung Jesu im Lichte der griechisch magischen Papyri. Betz 48. Messianism. p. one may carry outside the house on Sabbath: Is a nail from a crucified person (as a medical device) among the permitted items? Already the 10 Mishnah referred to the opinion of the majority prohibiting that nail even on weekdays.. however. including faster cooking and other . In each case the talmudic point of departure is a legal question.including help against sorcery. Cp. pp. Hellenismus (above). That does. 101. BTSan 67a-68a. Magic. Ex 3 49) are among the ‘medicines’ against fever. precisely for the difference between private documents and official ones: the Talmud. the earliest rabbinic document. will refer to items missing from the Mishna.forms are prohibited. 49-56. 163-4 and note 35. being an official document46. 46 Notwithstanding the cultural bounds between early Christianity and later rabbinic literature. BTShab 66bf. see also Kollmann.’ Idem. our main source for the subject under discussion. pp. BTGit 67b-70a and esp. a religious one. remnants from persons who died an unnatural death have played an important role throughout ancient Greek magic as already discussed by H. angelology and demonology belong mostly to those missing items. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 17 partly change. Tosefta Kifschuta. however. 49 50 Cp. 47 See esp. S. as PTShab VI 8c has it expressis verbis50. For the Emorite rites see 10 48 15 . Yet. a fact that explains why later. Cp.M.g.

That tale cannot be taken as magic 30 practice. The rest of the texts lists possible 25 dangers and devices against those . Goldin (above). king of the demons. and consequently eating etc. The two Veltri (above). Jesus’ Miracles in Context 18 The rabbis quoted here (sometimes including Abbaye’s mother) take the different devices referred to very seriously: They do not have any doubt that such and such things will either cure a certain illness or expel a demon. they will not care. i. One may compare the list given here to the one later on in the same treatise (BTShab 108b-111b). They even go as far as to state that the right knowledge about demons is nec essary for writing an effective amulet (111b). Mach. the king of the demons. Most interestingly the rabbis start here a series of categorizations concerning the differences between pairs. They even end up with a principle: Whosoever is concerned about demonic danger because of 20 drinking in even numbers. in even numbers. The later list is of importance for the NT miracle stories since here the use of spittle upon the eye is expressively 10 forbidden. 120-1. . However. since it makes a person 15 susceptible for demons. 221-282. 2) A similar legal point of departure is given in BTPess: If one is to drink four cups of wine at the Passover night. pp. has clearly a strong affinity to 5 some texts included in the magical texts discussed above. though it is interesting to compare it to the claim of Jesus’ adversaries: He expels demons by the help of Beelzebub.e. A practice like the cure of fever with the help of a bush at the river side. pp. otherwise.if known. it lacks invocation of different divine/demonic names. in even numbers is considered dangerous. J. the demons will be concerned about him.M. 93-220 and directly following his long chapter about healing. this ordinance contradicts the oral tradition according to which any drinking in pairs. 3) BTGit is somewhat special: The term kordiakos used in the Mishnah is no longer understood by the talmudic sages: They interpret it as a name of a demon and from here they start a long folktale about Solomon’s erection of the temple with the help of Asmodai. the materials used are quite ordinary ones (hair/bush/water). pp. In one instance it is even related (110b) that a woman killed her husband by serving an even number of cups (of wine). demons and sorcery. Again. the list of possible dangers is reduced not only insofar as the rabbis propose a solution for most even numbers between 1 and 10.

We learn that the categorization of demons is essential for writing the right amulet . Eliezer questions about ritual purity. Hanina and R.caused by demons. Zeeri’s ass and Yannai at the inn. However. He decided instead to highlight the rational aspects of the rabbinic attitude.found a middle way out: To cure the sick and to expel demons they did not hesitate to list 20 all kinds of recipes. besides that of the calf. 50-1 (line 5). Oshaya is neither explained nor 25 commented on (to our pity).mainly illnesses . which he has taught R. for egocentric purposes they definitely prohibited them. This is not the place to deal with the . namely the creation of an ! "å î ä"#$ by R. for the purpose of study they allowed them. They faced the problem that Scripture prohibited those and . Elazar52. and those that must be punished that way. the pretense is only forbidden (68a)51. The general 15 principal to be observed is: the real act is forbidden and to be punished by death. Elieser’s production and harvesting of a field of %éàå &. 10 Oshaya each Friday. 4) The most problematic section is the discussion in BTSan. Hanina and R. is R. a sort of cucumbers. Some stories about magical acts follow: the slaughtering of an imagined camel. so that they could eat that calf Friday night (and this practice is approved! 67b). The most complicated one of these stories. Mach. 5 52 Amulets and Magic Bowls (above). yet. the creational act. pp. !é àø' ä $î. 80-81. It is in this context that some of the most prominent magical acts are it seems . we are mostly not told how those acts other than healing were performed. The amulets published by Naveh/ Shaked are perhaps what the talmudic sages had in mind . 51 See Jo‘l (above). yet. Clearly enough the rabbis shared the belief in the possibility of ‘magical’ acts.after all in one of these the client is called R. pp. It is interesting that Urbach (above) choose not to deal with the most obvious cases of magic in his chapter on magic and miracle.M. Once more the harmonistic depiction of early rabbinic thought becomes problematic in this account. since here the rabbis 5 deal neither with folktale nor with everyday medicine: The legal question concerns the differentiation between those acts of magic which are principally forbidden. Aqiba. Immediately after the %éàå &-story the rabbis ask R.although there is no formula of such an amulet in the Talmud. of R. are not to be punished by death penalty. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 19 stories show quite different conceptions and even evaluations of demonic help for a holy purpose! The continuation relates stories about attempts to bewitch some famous rabbis and about other dangers .

Following such stories it is hard to approve Urbach’s view to ãthe fact that the personality of the 5 53 54 miracle-worker is not emphasized” in the rabbinic accounts (above. However.T.SS 2). altogether official documents. 117. So also Meier (above). 103-4). 53. 357. J. see.M. 5:41. For our direct purpose. Edt. Mach. Cummings.g.. e. it is important to note: The bulk of talmudic reference has to do with healing of illness and getting rid of dangers caused by demons. e.g. p. there is nothing really outstanding in its use.and Zechariah. 567 n. John has Jesus prepare a quite problematic accounts of miracles as given in a series of stories related. Luke. For the consideration of original realism versus theological restriction see R. miracle catenae” see. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 20 To sum up: There is much to be studied about these texts. 47-61 and literature quoted there. in fact. A. The same author has in two instances the words of Jesus addressing the wind or the demons. Matthew . After all the story ends with the warning of Shim(on ben Shetach who identified Honi’s miracle as a forbidden act. repeats two utterances of Jesus in 15 Aramaic (Talitha Kumi and Ephata. p. and these show quite specific attitudes: Only Mark. however. vol. 7:34) which in his Greek context appear like nomina barbara. it needs explanation that New Testament authors normally don’t mention it (besides the three incidents pointed to here). e. Oxford 3-7 April 1978. Mark knows about Jesus using his spittle twice (8:22-26. For later attempts to draw conclusions from the miracle stories to the redaction of the gospels including ãpre- 10 15 Mk. even these are mostly concerned with the two subjects indicated: Illness and demoniacal 10 possessions. in BT Ta (anit 19b-25b (following the story about Honi in M Ta (aniot III8. by E.g. p. Aramaic commands to the sick person 53. Sheffield 1980 (JSNT. Sixth International Congress on Biblical Studies. but are. A certain amount of folktales about demons and very few instances of magical creation proper are 5 allowed.. It seems very problematic to consider a more original setting in these two stories of Mark than in the parallels in Matthew and Luke. II: Papers on the Gospels. ‘The Tassel of his Cloak: Mark. pp. Livingstone. mainly because of the supposed Markean-priority.’ Studia Biblica 1978. and M. . and yet. Spittle is well known in ancient miracle stories (see next note). Hengel (above). however. V The miracles attributed to Jesus are more complicated: After all we encounter the different versions of the four gospels. 7:31-37) 54.. his treatment of the Honi-story p. Comparing this official document with the Aramaic amulets points only more to the distinction between official literature and private texts: The Aramaic amulets know long lists of adjurations (not only invocations). where the parallels only note that Jesus frightened them.

Hull (above). There is no incantation. Urbach. The healing on a Sabbath (mentioned three times only) and the combination of a miracle with the forgiving of sins are clearly theological constructions. The ãfaith” is stressed once again. Meier (above).dargestellt an den SeewandelerzŠhlungen. ‘Rulers. by C. e.g.S 74). Freiburg 1979 and more recently A.D. Berg. 15 Jesus’ walking on the sea (Mt 14:22-33/Mk 6:45-52/John 6:16-2159) is a story full of motives taken from different sources and reworked for this purpose 60. and Walking on the Water (Mark 6:45-52). 1994 (NT. cp. Mach. pp.a. 102 and related notes. We are only told that Jesus ãthreatens” the wind and the water 58. Sages (above). one includes healing of blindness by spittle: Hist. Weinreich.’ Miracles. . Other features are equally specific for this or that author. E. See W. Mk adds ãJesus’ words”: ãQuiet! Be still!” (4:39). IV. pp. ‘Elijah. Luke has no parallel to this story. K. and M. Essays honoring D. which have emerged at a later stage only. For such questions see. charm. Satirikon 131.Jesus simply came over the water to help 55 Tacitus relates some ãmiracles” done by Vespasian.F.’ Religious Propaganda and Missionary 10 58 59 60 15 Competition in the New Testament World . adjuration or whatsoever. 5 The miracle stories in the four gospels comprise for the greater part healings and exorcisms. Moule (above). E. Lindars. Georgi edt. We cannot enter here into the discussion of different cultural Vorlagen like those taken from the biblical writings. 5 56 567sq with note 54 and the literature quoted in these works. pp. Some outstanding miracles concerned neither with healing nor with demoniacal possession should be mentioned briefly56. Standhardinger.81. further R. Divine Men. It seems likely that the impact of this story is not so much the actual miracle but more the assertion of faith. by L. pp. Edt. Yarbro-Collins. The calming of the sea (Mt 8:23-27/Mk4:35-41/Lk 8:22-25) reaches the climax of 10 the story in Jesus’ question: Where is your faith? and in the bewilderment of the disciples57. 63-79. B. Leiden e. Most of these stories are charged with theological overtones. Borman. Elisha and the Gospel Miracles. A. Heilungswunder (above). 356-7. pp. Only Mt allows for the acclamation by the mass ãYou are the son of God!” Again. Die Rezeption alttestamentlicher Motive im Neuen Testament . 207-227. pp. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 21 mixture from spittle and earth (John 9:1-7) 55. we are not told a word 20 about the ãHow?” of the performance . Hengel (above). 76-78. del Tredici. 57 Mt has ãpeople” instead. especially in the version of Mt who has the addition of Peter’s attempt to follow Jesus upon the water. 47 and 98 (for the combination of spittle and earth in Petronius. pp.M.

Mach. there are no traces of how that miracle is accomplished. only PGM I 42-195.D. 62 Interestingly. 63 Mt 14:13-21/Mk 6:30-44/Lk 9:10-17/John 6:1-13 and Mt 15:32-39/Mk 8:1-10. John 21:1-11 (here after the resurrection!). Other such miracles are related to fishing a huge amount of fish 62.D.A. the story is combined with the notice of Jesus’ healing in the first version according to Mt and Lk. take for granted that these are relatively late theological constructions61. the nation or the pro phets. He does not even say so. Amongst other things the ãassistant” (p‡redrow) will do for the magician is a banquet. yet. 64 Cp. including sacrifices. Again: Jesus 5 just commands to pull out the nets. One might. It might be. Ph. this story became a miracle only in Lk 5:1-11 and in the parallel. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 22 the disciples. That water will be wine. blesses (e)jlo/gh*en). that element is missing from Mk and John.M. Yet. The burden of the story lies in the missionary activity of the disciples. no spell etc. There is no praxis. Fishbane. A fuller study of the Old Testament texts has been offered by S. thesis Brandeis University 1971. Studies in Biblical Magic: Origins. Yaron. The two synoptic parallels. breaks the loaves and 10 gives them to the people: ãThey all ate and were satisfied” (Mk 4:42). Both sea-miracles have the person of Jesus and the need for faith in him at their centre. Again. M. Hengel above. The two stories about feeding the masses 63 just fit in at this point: Jesus takes small amounts of bread and fish. We have no reason to suppose that this benediction was a specific spell instead of the normal benediction before eating bread. Even the story of changing water into wine (John 2) fits into the general picture. these require not only many rituals. prayers. therefore. See our remarks to R. We cannot discuss here whether the story in John is original. thesis Haifa 1998 [Hebr. 15 though here one might have expected a connection to magical texts. but also certain stones 61 It would be worthwhile to study the water miracles independently under the aspect of repeating the Old Testament stories of walking through the waters. Either he knew what was going to happen or else we are simply left without an explanation. Miracles in Scripture and 5 in the Ancient Near Eastern Literature . Ph. which are mostly associated with liminal situations in the history of either the patriarchs. and M. that the story about Peter’s fishing in Mt 17:24-27 (in order to find a coin to pay the temple-tax in the mouth of a fish) is originally connected to the tradition behind Lk 5 and John 21. There are some recipes for organizing a lavish dinner in the PGM 64. Uses and transformations of Terminology and Literary Form. Jesus is not willing to perform that miracle at all and in the end simply orders to fill some jars with water and to serve. For other aspects of Old Testament magic cp. Mt 4:18-22 and Mk 1:16-20 don’t mention any miracle here. 10 15 .].

2 feeding miracles (6 versions which might reflect only one source) plus the story in John 2:1-11.a. 3). Disease and Deliverance. At first glance I count more than 25 stories 10 (including the summaries) that belong to this group 66. A.L. Freiburg e. 5 nature-miracles (10 actual stories). Trunk.und religionsgeschichtliche Studie zu den Exorzismen im MatthŠusevangelium. Ereignis und †berlieferung. 17 healings. Die Wunder Jesu. One might well ask how much reworking of traditional material is 5 involved in each of these (sometimes that seems to be quite obvious). the two mass-feedings. Jesus the Healer. 8 ãnature miracles” and 4 generalizing descriptions (above. J.. 28-31. Hengel (above).. Since the first two categories belong together the healings are outstanding 15 67 68 in any case.-M. pp. Other authors have slightly different numbers. Meier (above). pp. Suhl. Possession. and the Origins of Christianity. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 23 with very specific inscriptions to be written with special ink etc. pp. Aune counted 6 exorcisms. London 1995. pp.SS 13). For a (problematic) confrontation of Christian and rabbinic approach to the question of faith cp. The connection to magical texts is markedly missing just here.. Sheffield 1998 (JPT. Edt. H. 20 . 369-70. Source Criticism and the new Literary Criticism. Suhl counted 63 miracle-stories: 4 exorcisms (in 11 variants). or 65 See Twelftree. GŸtersloh 1968. These are interrelated since illness is often believed to be caused by demons 67. The other miracle stories and the frequently repeated summaries are concerned with healing and/or exorcism65. that here we have a specific notion of Jesus at the centre. 14-16 healing reports (30 variant stories).C. To some degree these stories remind us of rabbinical stories about the sages . also Suhl (above).: Herder 1994 (Herders biblische Stu- 5 66 dien. 566-571.M.’ The Synoptic Gospels. the relation between partly different stories like the two account of Jesus’ spittle etc. Thomas. Cp. 3 stories relating the raising of the dead (in 5 ver - 10 sions). Eine redaktions. The precise number changes according to our interpretation of some obvious double stories. Mach. sometimes especially the sick organ (e. ‘ƒvolution du Motif de la Foi dans les Miracles Synoptiques. Quite often Jesus repeats: Your faith has healed you! 68 At other occasions 15 he simply ascertains that the formerly sick person will be healed from now on. also Urbach (above). Leuven 1993 (BEThL 110). Origins of Illness in the New Testament Thought. Trance. However. Jesus as Healer. The Devil. van Caugh. pp. All of these stories (perhaps with the exemption of John 2) have clear theological intentions..with the marked difference. Jesus the Exorcist (above). C. and M. Cambridge 1997. D. e. Johanniques et Apocryphes. Foucant. Der messianische Heiler. Davies. 1523sq). 116-120. the ear) or laying the hands upon the patient. the actual pra/xi of Jesus is mostly not told: The elements repeated are touching the sick person. 542sqq and R. pp.g. Remus. pp. For this well established fact see recently J.g. 35sqq. like. S.

Jesus’ Miracles in Context 24 commands an act.g..a. Mk. in these 69 70 71 Legion: Mk 5:1-20 and parallels.70 A stranger is using Jesus’ name for exorcisms and Jesus explicitly allows that (Mark 9:38-41/Lk 9:49-50). which only the already healed can fulfill. 5 Interestingly enough. R. The later is mostly restricted to a short confirmation by Jesus. 14:36. a demoniac who could not speak was brought to him and when the demon was driven out 10 the mute person spoke. p. Mach. we find only once that a woman suffering from hemorrhage touched Jesus’ clothes. as indicated by the amount of rabbinic discussion precisely here71. 15 We are left with a peculiar picture: A huge amount of miracles and nearly no description of the actual performance. the theological Jesus was the son of God.M. Mt 9:32-33 (/Lk 11:14): ã. It might be due to the fact that Talmud as well as gospels are official religious 25 literature. The fact that only the author of the fourth gospel has a very material story (we may perhaps add the water-wine episode) might explain why he has to defend Jesus before the high priest against the suspicion of magic. In one speech to his disciples he states that he expells demons by the holy spirit (Mt 12:28/Lk 11:20).. according to one of the many summaries (Mt. 6:56). he hardly needed to invoke other deities. and M. E.). names etc. yet it might be simply the cultural affinity between Jesus and certain tendencies within Judaism that made it easy to accept miracles esp.. 363) are surely right. The Jew Jesus had no real problem with these two fields of miraculous activities. 20 Whatever the historical Jesus did. with generally accepted practices of 5 . Jesus himself is not reported to have used any spells. then. When it comes to the demons we face the same situation: Either they leave since they recognize Jesus as ãson of God” (Mt 8:29/Mk5:7/Lk 8:28) or else are expelled without any description. That might be understood behind Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius III 38. Besides the spittle already mentioned. yet. such are lacking altogether from Luke.” Only once Jesus asks for the name of the demon69 and once he speaks with the demon/s (s. for his healings and exorcisms. demons etc. Hengel (above. There are no further material devices for curing the sick. and so did many. even within their messianic interpretation the basis for the historical work (before its theological interpretation) seems closer to Jewish reconciling healing. not to see Jesus’ miracles in analogy to ancient medicine (thought the two fields have not been distinguished so clearly). there Apollonius is reported to have sent a letter to the demon.

72 Cp. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 25 fields. 315. Kollmann (above). p. 72 The young Jesusmovement and its relation to magic is a different chapter that cannot be 5 addresssed here. Jesus shared the belief in demonology with the magicians as well as with most other people during that time. .M. this does still not constitute him a magician in his own right. We cannot be sure at this point. Yet. Mach.

Mach. JAC JANES JBL JJS JPT. v. Supplementum sequens/sequentes Studien zum Alten und Neuen Testament Studien zum Neuen Testament [und seiner Umwelt?] TŸbinger BeitrŠge zur Altertumswissenschaft Texte und Studien zum antiken Judentum Ÿbersetzt verbessert Wege der Forschung 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 . Supplement Series Kleine Texte fŸr Vorlesungen und †bungen Mnemosyne Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der šstereichischen Nationalbibliothek (Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer) New Testament Studies Novum Testamentum. EvTh FRLANT FS FzB Hrsg/hrsg.SS KlT Mnen MPSW NTS NT.SS JSJ JSNT. RVV SAOC SBL. verb./Eds. Supplementum Papyrologia Colonensia Papyri Graecae Magicae (Preisendanz Collection / Betz’ translation) RealenzyklopŠdie fŸr Antike und Christentum reprint respectively Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization Society of Biblical Literature./Edt.S sq/sqq StANT StNT TBAW TSAJ Ÿbers. Text and Translation series Studies in Biblical Theology Stuttgarter Bibelstudien Studii Classici e Prientali Studies in the History of Religions Symbolae Osloensis. EuropŠische Hochschulschriften ErgŠnzung/ergŠnzt Evangelische Theologie Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments Festschrift Forschungen zur Bibel Herausgeber/herausgegeben von Jahrbuch fŸr Antike und Christentum Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society Journal of Biblical Literature Journal of Jewish Studies Journal of Pentecostal Theology.cit. Seminar Papers Society of Biblical Literature.S PapyCol PGM RAC repr. Supplement Series Journal for the Study of Judaism Journal for the Study of the New Testament. Dissertation series Society of Biblical Literature.DS SBL.TT SBT SBS SCPr SHR SO.M. EHS Erg. Jesus’ Miracles in Context 26 Shorte-titles for journals and series and other abbreviations A ABG ANRW art. WdF Auflage Archiv fŸr Begriffsgeschichte Aufstieg und Niedergang der ršmischen Welt articulus citativus Bibliotheca Ephemerides Theologicae Lovaniensis Brown Judaic Studies Babylonian Talmud BeitrŠge zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament durchgesehen Editor/ Editors/Edited etc. resp. BEThL BJS BT BWANT durchg. Ed.SP SBL.

Mach. Jesus’ Miracles in Context WUNT Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 27 .M.