Jesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God? by Morton SmithJesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God? is a 1978 book by Morton Smith arguing that the historical Jesus was a magician who sprang from a Galilean strain of Semitic paganism (p. 68). The charge that he was a magician didnt originate with Smith. It was previously voiced by the philosopher & critic Celsus (The True Word c. 200 CE) as we know from the rebuttal authored by the Christian apologist/scholar Origen: “It was by magic that he was able to do the miracles” (Contra Celsum 1.6). Clearly, for Celsus to have repeated the story, it must have had long currency before he came to write his book. Hans Dieter Betz (1994) observes that from early on even Jesus of Nazareth was implicated in that he was said to be mad or a magician possessed by Satan & R. Joseph Hoffmann writes (1987) that that the early Christian mission was advanced by the use of magic is well attested.
Discovery News reported in 2008 the discovery by French marine archeologist Franck Goddio of a bowl dating to between the late 2nd century BC & the early 1st century AD which refers to Jesus as a magician: DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS, which, the article tells us, has been interpreted to mean either, by Christ the magician or, the magician by Christ. Assuming this references Jesus, this is the earliest known reference to Jesus as a magician.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.
Thank you! A new view of Jesus--carefully researched, elegantly written, and thoroughly prejudiced. Smith offers a good deal of circumstantial evidence and still more speculation, to prove that Jesus was essentially a goes, or magician. Actually, this is an old view, first espoused by Jesus' enemies, and Smith insists it reflects the facts of history much better than the idealized propaganda in the gospels. He searches the immense body of literature, secular and sacred, of the first two centuries after Christ for parallel personalities e. On one striking page Smith compares phrases from Matthew and John where Jesus defines himself and his role, with similar passages from the Demotic Magical Papyrus.
Smith was a brilliant scholar, always the smartest guy in the room. And he knew it.
Jesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God? The idea that Jesus was a magician did not originate with Morton Smith. It was previously voiced by the philosopher and critic Celsus The True Word c. Hans Dieter Betz observes that "from early on even Jesus of Nazareth was implicated in that he was said to be mad or a magician possessed by Satan" and R. Joseph Hoffmann writes that it is well attested that "the early Christian mission was advanced by the use of magic.