Henze-demons: from Noah to Jesus

theoutwardquest

One thing about the gospels that is embarrassing to modernity is the prominence of demon possession. In just Mark’s gospel there are four detailed stories of Jesus performing exorcisms.  It is popular today to give psychological, medical, or even political explanations for demon possession.

Not only is this offensive to modern sensibilities, but it is mystifying if you are trying to interpret the gospels from just the Old Testament. The Old Testament occasionally uses the phrase “evil spirit”, but means something different. For instance, God sent an evil spirit to torment Saul (I Samuel 16:14-16). But his people did not call for an exorcist. They called for a harpist.

Also the Old Testament spoke of pagan gods as demons (Deuteronomy 32:17). But other words for pagan gods were more usual and the gods, although they contribute to false prophecy, do not possess people the way the demons in the gospels…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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