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fectly clear reference to Satan as the cause of physical infirmity is contained in the description of the deformed woman who “could in no wise lift herself up,” as one “ whom Satan had bound eighteen years ” (Lk. xiii. 11, 16). The same idea, however, is implied in the representation of the “demonized” (daluovi cóuevoi) as Satan's “spoil,” so far as their “possession” is identified with physical maladies; and to that subject we must now turn.
Characteristic examples of this “possession follows: The man “ with an unclean spirit " in the synagogue at Capernaum which, when Jesus exorcises it, tears the man and cries with a loud voice (Mk. i. 21 sq.; Lk. iv. 31 sq.); the Gerasene demoniac who dwelt among the tombs, gashed his body with stones, and could not be tamed, being inhabited by a “legion" of demons (Mk. v. 1 sq.; Mt. viii. 28 sq.; Lk. viii. 26 sq.); a dumb man who spake as soon as the demon which had caused his dumbness was cast out (Mt. ix. 32, 33; cf. Lk. xi. 14 and Mt. xii. 22); the little daughter of a Syrophænician woman who was “grievously vexed with a demon” and who, when healed, went home and lay down upon the bed, restored to health (Mk. vii. 25 sq.; Mt. xv. 22 sq.); the epileptic boy (Mt. xvii. 15) who had a “dumb spirit” and who often fell into fire and water and rolled on the ground and frothed at the mouth when the demon seized him (Mk. ix. 17 sq.; Mt. xvii. 14 8q.; Lk. ix. 37 sq.). These are all the examples of “possession " which are described with any detail in our sources.3
1 The idea that it is the special province of Satan to inflict sickness and other natural evils upon men appears in Paul's epistles : 1 Cor. v. 5; 2 Cor. xii. 7 ; 1 Thess. ii. 18; 1 Tim. i. 20.
2 I would commend to the reader the discussion of this subject by Row in The Supernatural in the New Testament (1875), and the remarks by Bruce in The Miraculous Element in the Gospels (1895).
3 The healings of the “blind and dumb” man (Mt. xii. 22) may be a repetition (so Wendt, Lehre Jesu, p. 100) of the cure already related by Matthew (ix. 32, 3:3) in close agreement with Lk. xi. 14. The woman "whom Satan had bound” (Lk. xiii. 16) is not explicitly said to have been possessed." If these two cases are counted, they make seven in all.
On the general subject we observe: (1) All the symp- Symptoms toms which are described are such as characterize one or another physical or mental malady. If the phenomena were not attributed to demoniacal possession, we should experience no difficulty in explaining all the examples as cases of disease, such as paralysis, deafness, loss of speech, epilepsy, and insanity. The argument for the reality of possession by demons must rest entirely upon the fact that this term is applied in the Gospels to these maladies, and not at all upon the nature or peculiarities of the symptoms which are described. We note, moreover, that the casting out of demons is commonly associated in our sources with the healing of the sick (Mt. x. 8; Mk. i. 3+; iii. 15; Lk. xiii. 20), although it is distinguished from such healing.
(2) We find that others besides Jesus “cast out demons." Whatever these maladies were, it is certain that both Jesus and his disciples recognized the ability of exorcists to cure them in some instances. On one occasion the disciples saw one casting out demons in Jesus' name and rebuked him because he did not join their company; but Jesus said: “Forbid him not, for there is no man who can do a mighty work in my name and be able quickly to speak evil of me" (Mk. ix. 38, 39; Lk. ix. 49, 50). Again, when the Pharisees charged him with casting out demons by the aid of their prince, he replied: “If I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out ? therefore shall they be your judges ” (Lk. xi. 19; xii. 27). One of the claims which those who call Jesus Lord and do not obey his precepts, will make in the judgment is (according to Matthew's version) that they have by his name cast out demons (Mt. vii. 22). It is thus evident that, whatever these maladies were, there were men who, in some cases, succeeded in curing them.
(3) “Possession” is not represented in our sources as a result or an evidence of extraordinary wickedness. Weiss says: “ The radical matter of fact (respecting the demo-userna niacs) was simply this, that the sinful condition had ext® A reached a height where the man no longer had the mastery of sin, but sin of him; and when sunk in this utter
impotence, and possessing no will of his own, he yielded
(+) We observe, in one case at least, a quasi-personi-
1 The Life of Christ, II. 81 (Bk. III. ch. vi.).
be regarded as representing three stages of thought through which the mind might easily pass in an age when all sorts of evils were constantly referred to the agency of invisible powers. First, the disease is personified; then the kind of disease is ascribed to a spirit like itself — the disease and the spirit being half identified and half distinguished; and, finally, the evil spirit simply inflicts at will one or another malady upon the person. I do not mean to intimate that there was any such development of ideas in chronological order, but only that these three examples may be regarded as representing three forms of thought respecting disease which three individ- AS EXPLA", A uals might illustrate, showing to what extent the mind of each was under the power of the idea of demoniacal possession as the explanation of severe disease. One might conceive the disease as a spirit; another as a “dumb” or " deaf” spirit, according to the nature of the malady; another as simply the malevolent cause of any given physical or mental disorder.
(5) Jesus makes a very remarkable allegorical use of the idea of demon-possession to illustrate the tendency of the Jews to relapse, after any temporary amendment, into increased wickedness (Lk. xi. 24-26; Mt. xii. 43-45). He describes an unclean spirit who has been cast out of the man whom he has inhabited, as wandering about in dry and desert regions; when he finds no habitation there, he decides to return into the man in whom he had formerly dwelt. He finds the man unoccupied by any other “spirit,' like an empty house waiting for a tenant. Thereupon he associates with himself seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they all enter this man, and thereafter he is inhabited by eight demons instead of one. We may not be justified in basing any argument on this passage either for or against the reality of possession by demons, but it is difficult to resist the impression that while this apologue is appropriate and impressive if regarded as an illustrative use of current popular ideas, it seems very grotesque if understood as a description of real beings and their behavior. All must, indeed, admit that some use is here
made of popular ideas which it is no part of Jesus' purpose to sanction. Wild, uninhabited regions were commonly regarded as the special abodes of demons. But it would be preposterous to suppose that Jesus means to affirm this to be an actual fact. Does he then mean to say that a man may be tenanted by a large but definite number of evil spirits, say, for example, eight? If not, does he mean to sanction the popular notion of “possession” at all? Where shall the line be drawn between the simply natural and convenient use of popular ideas respecting subjects which he was in no way concerned to discuss, and his didactic attestation of such ideas?
I have pointed out the phenomena of spiritism which our sources describe, not with the view of advocating any theory, but in order to show what are the considerations with which we have to deal. Into the question about the scope of our Lord's knowledge respecting such subjects, I am not required to enter. Our sole inquiry is: what, if anything, did he teach respecting such subjects as good and evil spirits ? That he frequently spoke of them after the manner of his time we bave already seen. Is his authority as a teacher committed to the correctness of those ideas? I do not believe that it is. That Jesus believed, and in his teaching implied, that there are good beings called angels and evil beings called demons and Satan, I cannot doubt, but his language concerning them is popular and not didactic, and his authority is not committed to the prevailing ideas which obtained in regard to them, although he spoke with respect to this, as with respect to all subjects outside the scope of his special teaching, in the terms current in his age. His language is pictorial, and his purpose in speaking on such topics always terminates on ethical and spiritual instruction, and not on giving information respect
1 « If he had denied the current theory (of demoniacal possession), he would have been giving evidence of scientific knowledge or of scientific intuition beyond the culture of his time, and this, as in countless other cases, was not in accordance with his method, which, whether we suppose it divine or human, has nowhere proved his divine mission by foreknowledge of natural science." George J. Romanes, Thoughts on Religion (1895), p. 193.