Magic and Sorcery in the Early Church II
132 pp. Printed on 100 gsm natural paper.
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Rescuing Satan from Fundamentalism
An Introduction to the Theory of Sorcery
The Early Church Beside the Mysteries: An introduction
Demons and Genii in the New Testament and Beyond
"Satan is among the most misunderstood figures in all of Biblical literature. Seen today as a well-defined character, namely a fallen angel and the personification of all that is evil, this image is a far cry from the original meaning of Satan in our earliest sources from the Hebrew Bible (HB). As has been the fate of many figures of sacred literature, Satan has undergone an evolution that includes specific details which were added piece by piece over many centuries. This development is so comprehensive that our modern rendering is unrecognizable beside the first form.
In this, the second volume of the Magic and Sorcery in the Early Church series, we will unpack the many accretions that have been over-layed upon this ill-starred character and explore the various intentions of the earliest Hebrew authors.
Satan's appearance in the New Testament (NT) is one of very few examples of a Hebrew word being brought directly into the Greek texts and it is clear that many diverse religious concepts were already becoming crystallized into a new model. Much of this is a reflection of the turbulent political context within which the early apocalyptic writers lived. These aspects are the main focus of the first chapter.
The practice of sorcery has become synonymous with Satan and the art is, indeed, directly related to Satanic attributes—properly understood. For these reasons it is necessary to explore the dynamics of sorcery, or the contacting of spiritual entities, as it was understood in the cultural milieux of the first century. This is the theme of the second chapter and it is continued in the fourth.
The influence of Hellenistic thinking in general and the Greek mystery religions in particular are vital issues for understanding the role of magic and sorcery in the early Church. So broad and confused is this subject that it will take an entire volume of this series to adequately deal with the many points that need to be included in a comprehensive treatment. The overall subject intersects directly with the present work however, and for this reason an introduction to the overlaps between the mysteries and Christianity is given in chapter three.
This series was born out of the research for what was initially intended to be a single volume work. However, the amount of information on the subject was so great, and the important related themes were so various that, as my research progressed, I realized that there was so much material that an entire series would be needed to do justice to this highly complex topic.
This book ends with an afterword which weaves the various previous threads into a final conclusion. This lays the foundation upon which the next, Lucifer, volume is built.
Each work of this series is, in essence, a stand-alone text. However the collection represents a journey or, better, a pilgrimage. The first volume, Ba'al Zebul: Lord of the Manor, provided a methodological compass with which to better navigate our Odyssey. Important subjects, such as being able to identify earlier against later strands of the NT, are dealt with in detail in the introductory volume and only short expositions of these points are given in the present work as a reminder of the overall themes.
We are standing before the first main summit in our trek and some of the topography in this leg of our journey will be steep. We will encounter detailed discussions of seemingly mundane or unrelated subjects. While these discussions may be a detour into new territory, they are not blind alleys. The finer points relating to these topics will equip us to tackle the many complex crevices of our climb that would otherwise cause us to fall."