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A Study of Texts Relevant to Exorcisms Latent in the Old Testament

Chang, Kwang-Yong 1

1숭실대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

In the present day Korean churches are facing the big problems whether they have to practise exorcistic ritual or not in their worship service. In such spiritual circumstances it is very necessary for us to pursue the identity of warding off evil/unclean spirits for healing the sick in Israel and its surrounding countries. Thus, it is very important and worthwhile to investigate and discuss the exorcism narratives in both the Old Testament and the ancient Near Eastern texts just before the Medo-Persian period. This, however, is proving increasingly difficult because we lack precise knowledge for an adequate study on the subject. So the author took an inter-disciplinary approach to attempt to suggest possible solutions to these problems through an examination of the literature of relevant texts. To achieve this goal it is essential to recognise that the Judeo-Christian inheritance on the subject in question should be related to similar beliefs found amongst the neighbours of Israel, with whom, at various periods, the Hebrews came into close cultural contact. For their beliefs in demons or evil spirits and angels were very intimately related to both primitive animism and the necromantic (spiritistic in the present day) belief in the survival of departed human spirits. However, the Old Testament does not explicitly state much about the apotropaic accounts while the New Testament shows us exorcism narratives as more than one third of Synoptic Gospels is in regard to healing the sick. It can be argued that this is mainly because we have lost the relevant texts in the Old Testament that dealt with the various exorcism accounts in the pre-Exilic period. Therefore, one can only treat the assumption or hypotheses put forward by these scholars with some misgivings for there is no documented evidence to support their theories. The problem can be solved if we try to pursue the relationship between Yahwism, the ethical monotheism of Israel and the family worship in Canaan and the ancient Near East. It is where we discover lots of exorcism accounts written on the basis of the sympathetic magic since the Old Babylonian period. In an attempt to solve this issue that exorcism narratives do not appear in the Old Testament, one can draw the conclusion that the Jewish religious authority concerned ruled out exorcisms accounts because spiritism threatened Yahwism in a matter of redaction of the Hebrew Bible since Josiah, the king of Judah.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.