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Preface to the series.
Methodologies: Creating a compass
Miracle: Towards a definition
Ba'al Zebul: The Lord of the Manor
Bibliography for the series
"The earliest depictions we have of Jesus portray him as a magician, using a wand or staff as an aid in his wondrous feats. For many modern Christians, however, such images would be considered heretical because the Church today assumes that Jesus performedmiracles and the power of magic is given by God's adversary: Satan.
The concept of a 'miracle', however, is anachronistic because today it means something that happens outside of the natural order but this concept was foreign to people in the first century. For the gospel writers and their audiences these events may have been extra-ordinary, they may have also carried divine significance and symbolism, but they were not dependent on an outside, 'supernatural' intervention for their occurrence. These 'signs and wonders' were considered part of the inherent, albeit infrequent, operations of nature.
Another apologetic is to set the category of magic against one of religion and attempt to make a distinction between the two. The term 'religion,' however, is also a modern invention and, again, there is no equivalent word or concept to be found in Greek, the language used by the writers of the New Testament (NT), nor in the Jewish conceptualization of the ancient and Classical periods. What we term 'religion' was a dynamic that was not isolated from the larger culture in ancient times.
We cannot separate magic from religion simply by the modern construction and definition of words. The further we examine religions, the more we see that they are steeped with strains of sorcerous forces. The term 'sorcery' is closely related to magic and, in this series, it will be used to mean communicating with entities in the spirit world so as to be empowered by them in the material dimension.
In this book, the first of a comprehensive series, we will explore the feats attributed to Jesus and his followers which demonstrate that magic and sorcery were integral to the dynamics of the early Church. The evidence for this is so solid that the debate has already been conceded by many conservative Christian apologists.
Our focus here, therefore, is not so much that the early Church performed magic but, rather undertsanding how they achieved these wonders."