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Its Relations 
Historical, Medical, and Theological 


M.A,, B.Sc, B.D., CM., M.D. 











Auf dem Grund des Glauhenmeeres 
Liegt die Perle der Erkenntniss. 


J^EMONIC Possession in the Neiv Testament is still 
^^ an unsolved problem. That statement is at 
variance with a considerable body of opinion recently 
expressed on two Continents. Nevertheless, it is a 
correct representation of the present state of the 
case. Modern writers have attained a certain 
unanimity, only by approaching the subject from 
one point of view and confining attention to the 
more conspicuous phenomena. But any investiga- 
tion which claims finality must explore the whole 
environment and scrutinise all residual facts. There 
is a comparative demonology to be studied ; there 
are types of mental disease to be examined ; there 
is a criterion of genuine possession to be discovered 
and applied. The inquiry thus broadens out and 
takes account of many points hitherto ignored or 
neglected. The whole subject thereby assumes a new 
complexion and has received restatement accordingly. 
This work is an original research ; not a com- 

viii Preface, 

pilation. Few authorities have therefore been directly 
quoted ; but any one familiar with the vast literature 
concerned will readily perceive that previous writings 
are constantly in sight. The tactics of the contro- 
versialist have likewise been avoided as essentially 
unprofitable. The opinions of others have been 
combated where necessary ; but by an array of facts 
rather than a war of words. This treatise is at most 
only a fragment. A large amount of material has 
been held in retcntis, and many important questions 
have been left untouched. The conclusions attained 
have been reached independently, and are of a novel 
J character. They confirm, in the highest degree, the 
claim of Christ to be considered the Good Physician 
and the Revealer of the Father. 

Wm. Menzies Alexandee. 

Glasgow, January 1902. 






Composite relations of the subject. Views of Meyer, Farrar, 
Bruce, Wendt, Gould. The dilemma. The luminous back- 
ground. The concrete investigation. The residual pheno- 
menon. Application of the preceding results to the Beelzebul 
controversy, the Gerasene aft'air, the alleged continuance of 
possession ......... 1-12 



Demonology of the Old Testament. Shadow-figures. Degraded 
gods. A possessing demon. Demonology of the Septuagint. 
Continued iconoclasm. Spirits of the giants. Asmodaeus. 
Rabbinic demonology. Recipe for seeing spirits. Their 
origin, numbers, forms, haunts, times of activity, powers, re- 
strictions, management, redeeming features. Ethnic parallels. 
Christ and common demonology. Christ and common magic. 
Cause of Christ's superiority to superstition . . . 13-60 "^ 



Data of the present inquiry. Uses of a correct diagnosis. 
Simple epilepsy not possession. The Caijeruaum demoniac. 
The Gerasene demoniac. The epileptic idiot. Significance 


X Contents 


of the demoniac state. The Syro-Phojnician girl. The dumb 
demoniac. The blind-and-dumh demoniac. Mary Magdalene. 
The Philippiau Pythoness. The Ephesian demoniac . 61-102 



Numbers of the possessed in the time of our Lord. Regions ■ i 

whence the possessed were brought. Capernaum as focus of 
tlie Eastern and Western Dispersions. Population of Pales- 
tine. Mental temperament of the people. Mental health of 
the people. Representations of the Gospels. Comparison of 
the Jews with the Greeks and the Romans. Comparison of 
the Jews with the peoples of the British Isles. Approximate 

estimate of the numbers of the possessed. Naturalness of the ll 

ethnic theory of possession. Naturalness of the terms " evil" 
and "unclean." Responsibility of the jrossessed. The treat- 
ment of the possessed among the Jews. Ethnic parallels. 
Comparative results. Christ and current methods of treat- 
ment. The psychological explanations of Strauss, Renan, 
Keim, Matthew Arnold. Their perpetual futility. Proofs of 
the expulsion of spirits 103-146 



Principles of investigation. Historicity of the narratives. Tlw 
criterion of genuine demonic 'possession. Significance of the*^ 
confession of Jesus as Messiah. Accident, clairvoyance, verbal 
information, genuine discrimination, as theories to explain 
this confession. Demonic inspiration, the only competent 
explanation. Classification of the possessed. Results of the- 
same. Paucity of cases " self-attested. " Their restriction to^ 
the early ministry of Christ. Proof of "the strong one" 
being bound. Antecedents of genuine demonic possession. 
Relation to moral depravity. Views of the Fathers, Light- 
foot, Olshausen, Dieringer, Trench, Weiss. The fundamental 
error. Limits of genuine demonic possession. The moral 
and intellectual damage. The time-limit. Hypnotism not 
the true analogue of demonic action .... 147-173>^ 

Contents xi 




Occasioned by the cure of idiots. Beelzebul neither Ashmedai 
nor Satan. The fly-gods of the ancients. The Scarab-Beetle. 
Baalzebub. Zeus and Hercules. Beelzebul, lord of dung or 
lord of the dwelling ? Beelzebul as Bel-Ea-Mul-lil. Christ 
possessed of Beelzebul. Refutation of the Pharisaic theory. 
Proposal of a new alternative. The sign from hell. The 
parable of the last state. The sequel to tliis controversy. 
Why the Nine failed 174-193 



Scene of the ev^ent. The Huxley-Gladstone controversy. Num- 
ber of the demoniacs. Folic A deux. Alleged transmigration 
of the demons. Motives of the same. Failure of previous 
explanations. Data for a reconstruction. The facts and the 
theory. Not a case of manifold possession. No demonic 
supplication. Simple command of Jesus : Begone-! The 
stampede of the swine. Theories of Paiilus, Lange, Farrar, 
Roseumiiller, Lutteroth. Incompetency of the same. Fresh 
scrutiny of time, place, and incidents. Probable cause of the 
panic. Loss of the swine-owners. Possible reduction of it. 
Remarks of Wetstein and Heilprin. Inane criticisms of 
Woolston, Strauss, and Huxley ..... 194-215 



Possession in sub-apostolic times. Absence of " possession " from 
the Didache, the writings of Clement of Rome, Hermas, 
Barnabas, Ignatius, Polycarp, etc. Possession in aute- 
Nicene and post-Nicene times. Testimonies to theory and 
practice in the Avritings of Justin Martyi', Minucius Felix, 
Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, Lactantius, Jerome, etc. Treat- 
ment of energumeus. ' ' The Bidding Prayer. '' Order of exor- 
cists. Possession in mediaeval and modern times. Gregory 



the Great. Tlie old deinonism and tlie new diabolism. 
Witchcraft. The deraonomania of South -Eastern Europe. 
The Dancing Manias. The conviilsionnaires of France. The 
demonolaters of India. The dervishes of Algiers. The 
demoniacs of China. The cessation of genuine possession ? ^ — 

wThe peculiarity of the environment in the time of our Lord 216-249v 


A. llaljbinic Literature ....... 

B. Nomenclature of tlie New Testament .... 

C. The Dumb Demoniac versus the Blind-and-Dumb Demonia 

D. Fact-basis of the Ephesian Narrative .... 

E. The Mission of the Seventy 

F. Greek Demonology ..... . . 

G. Greek Medicine ........ 

H. Testimonies to the Success of Jesus .... 

I. Fallacies ......... 

J. The Use of popular Language by Jesus 

K. The Demonising of the Heathen Gods 

L. Jesus out of His Senses ? ..... 

M. Was Jesus nicknamed Beelzebul ? . . . . 

N. Scene of the Healing of the Blind-and-Dumb Demoniac 

O. Did Jesus practise Accommodation ? . 

P. Ejection of Demons by Fasting ..... 

Q. The popular Treatment of Epilepsy .... 

R. Witchcraft 










27 Iv/ 














rriHE anthropologist here finds himself on ground 
-■- which he deems common to the races of the 
lower culture. The expert physician here discovers, 
in the phenomena of possession, indubitable evidence 
of mental disease. The student of Scripture, after 
utilising the best exegetical data, finds himself con- 
fronted by a fact to which he finds it difficult to 
assign any definite significance. The perplexities of 
the subject are really enormous, and have scarcely 
been realised as yet. History and medicine and 
theology have their separate contributions to make 
towards the solution of this problem ; but the 
awkwardness of the situation lies in the fact that 
they persist in making these contributions separately. 
The result is a conflict of opinion or a suspense of 

The trend of modern opinion is most easily 


2 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

indicated by citing the views of a few eminent and 
fair-minded writers. These are set forth without 
prejudice to the detailed investigation of this vexed 

According to Meyer/ the demoniacs of the 
Gospels were popularly regarded as persons possessed 
of demons ; a view of the matter shared by the 
first Evangelist. The bodies of the possessed (ol 
Bai/jLovi^ofxevoL) were thus looked upon as the seat and 
organ of demonic working. They were really sick 
persons, suffering from peculiar diseases (mania, 
epilepsy, delirium, hypochondria, paralysis, temporary 
dumbness) ; these being apparently inexplicable from 
physical causes, and believed therefore to have their 
foundation, not in an abnormal organisation or in 
natural disturbances of the physical condition, but 
in the actual indwelHng of demonic personalities. 
Many of these might be counted in a single sick 
person. The belief is conceivable from the decay of 
the old theocratic consciousness and of its moral 
strength, which referred all misfortunes to the sending 
of God. This belief, however, rendered healing 
possible only through the acceptance of the existing 
view, leaving the latter untouched ; but making the 
healing all the more certain for the Messiah, Who has 
power over the kingdom of devils, and Who now stood 
victoriously opposed to all diabolic power. 

If it be assumed that Jesus Himself shared the 
opinion of His age and nation regarding the reality of 
^ Commentary, Matt. iv. 24. 

Introductory 3 

possession by demons, then we must either set up the 
old doctrine on the authority of Jesus, or attribute to 
Him an error, not simply physiological, but essentially 
religious, and irreconcilable with the pure height of His 
divine knowledge. 

Against the old view, apart from all physiological 
and medical objections, the following are urged as 
decisive : — 

1. The non-occurrence of demoniacs in the Old 


2. The undisputed healing of the same by many 

o. The non-occurrence of reliable instances in 
modern times. 

4. The complete silence of the fourth Evangelist on 

the subject. 

5. The absence from Paul's Epistles of definite 

references to expulsions. 
G. The conduct of the demoniacs, w4io were not 
at all filled with godless dispositions and anti- 
christian wickedness, which was necessarily to 
. be expected as the result of the real indwelling 
of devils. 
The opinion of Dean Farrar ^ is as follows : " So 
many good, able, and perfectly orthodox writers have, 
with the same data before them, arrived at different 
conclusions on this question, that any certainty re- 
specting it appears to be impossible. My own view 
under these circumstances is of no particular import- 
* Life of Christ, cliap. xxiii. 


4 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

ance, but it is this. I have shown that the Jews, like 
all unscientific nations in all ages, attributed many 
nervous disorders and physical obstructions to demoniac 
possession wliich we should attribute to natural 
causes ; ])ut I am not prepared to deny that in the 
dark and desperate age which saw the Redeemer's 
advent, there may have been forms of madness which 
owed their more immediate manifestation to evil 
powers. I should not personally find much hardship 
or difficulty in accepting such a belief, and have only 
been arguing against tlie uncharitable and pernicious 
attempt to treat it as a necessary article of faith for 
all. The subject is too obscure (even to science) to 
admit of dogmatism on either side." In connection 
with the cure of the Gerasene demoniac(s), Dean 
Farrar remarks : " If, indeed, we could be sure that 
Jesus directly encouraged or sanctioned in the man's 
mind the belief that the swine were indeed driven 
wild by the unclean spirits, which passed objectively 
from the body of the Gergesene into the bodies of 
those dumb beasts, then we could, without hesitation, 
believe as a literal truth, however incomprehensible, 
that so it was. But this by no means follows 
indisputably from what we know of the methods of 
the Evangelists." 

The late Professor Bruce asserted ^ that in relation 
to the demonised " the most certain and, in that 
respect, the primary datum, was a real physical or 
mental disease. In every case of which we have 

^ The Miraculous Element in the Gospels, p. 177 fi'. 

introductory 5 

details there was a disease, either madness, or epilepsy, 
or dumbness, or dumbness accompanied with blindness, 
or chronic muscular contraction. These diseases w^ere 
as real as are the mental and nervous maladies with 
which our experience makes us familiar ; and they 
must not be explained away because one happens to 
think that the notion of possession was a delusion. 
To those who are inclined to follow this course, these 
questions may be put : Were there no insane persons 
in Judpea in our Lord's day ? were none of them cured 
by Him ? and where is the record of them ? That 
there were many such sufferers cannot be doubted ; 
that many of them experienced the benefit of Christ's 
healing power, may also be taken for granted ; and 
that the cure of maladies, so fitted to call forth 
sympathy, w^ould be overlooked in the records, is not 
credible. But there is no account of any such cures, 
unless we find it in the narratives of the demoniacs." 
Our author then proceeds to compare the evidence, on 
this side and on that, regarding the objective reality 
of possession ; his aim being the exhibition of the 
subject as one beset with difficulty on which it is 
excusable to be in suspense. Eeference is made to 
the impression that the character of Christ is some- 
how involved, leading devout minds more than any- 
thing else to regard the reality of demoniacal posses- 
sion as a matter not open to dispute. Further, it is 
said that if the veracity of Christ or His competency 
to guide men infallibly in moral and religious truth 
would be compromised by the denial of the reality of 

6 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

possession, no believer would hesitate to accept the 
same as an article of faith. Beyond securing or 
affirming the historicity of the Gospel narratives, the 
arguments for and against the objective reality of 
possession are virtually left in a state of equipoise. 
The opinion of Professor Wendt ^ is that Jesus 
followed traditional ideas in regard to supernatural 
beings, whether good or bad ; though He took quite a 
different view from that of His Jewish contemporaries 
regarding the significance of those spiritual agencies 
for the restoring or hindering of the health-giving 
intercourse of man with God. As far as the existence, 
nature, and ordinary mode of activity of these agents 
are concerned, Christ simply accepted the current ideas 
of His countrymen. The view that demoniac in- 
fluences aim, not at immorality, but at the misery 
of man, was not original on the part of Jesus. In 
accordance with the vulgar conception. He specially 
regarded sickness as the result of demonic influence ; 
and this mode of view was applied in a general way 
to all sicknesses. Thus, the woman with the spirit of 
infirmity is said to have been bound of Satan. In the 
case of certain extraordinary morbid phenomena, such 
as intermittent diseases, it was thought that the 
person was so possessed or indwelt by the demon, or 
in specially bad cases, by many demons, as to be made 
the powerless object of their pernicious dealings and 
the involuntary organ of their utterances. That Jesus 
had much to do with sick persons who passed for 
^ The TcacMiKj of Jaus, i. p}(. IGl IL, ^90 11'. 

Introductory 7 

demoniacs ; that He regarded and treated them as 
possessed of real demons ; and that He saw in their 
seizures a special task for Himself and His disciples, 
cannot be doubtful. This mode of view finds char- 
acteristic expression in the parable of the demon 
returning with seven others worse than himself. Not 
the possessed, but the malicious demons, were re- 
garded as morally evil. Yet Jesus divested the "^ 
Jewish idea of demons of its importance, which was 
detrimental to faith. It did not tend with Him as 
with them to superstitious fear and cowardice. He 
associated the idea of evil spirits with the absolute 
certainty of possessing, through God's help, such power 
over evil spirits that they must hearken and yield to 
Him and cease from injury. Jesus set aside the 
practical dualism of Jewish demonology. In the 1 
assurance that He was the Stronger One Who was 
able to conquer Satan, the strong one, and to spoil his 
goods, Jesus was able to aid effectively the demoniacs 
whom He met, and to command evil spirits with a 
voice of authority. The certainty of His power was 
. but the reverse side of trust in the love and might 
of God. 

Professor Gould thus regards the matter.^ " The 
reality of demoniacal possession is a matter of doubt. 
The serious argument against it is that the phenomena 
are mostly natural, not supernatural. It was the un- 
scientific habit of the ancient mind to account for 
abnormal and uncanny things, such as lunacy and 
' International Critical Commentary, Marl:, p. 23. 

8 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

epilepsy, supernaturally. And in such cases outside 
of the Bible, we accept the facts, but ascribe them 
to natural causes. Another serious difficulty is that 
lunacy and epilepsy are common in the East as else- 
where, and yet, unless these are cases, we do not find 
Jesus healing these disorders as such, but only cases 
of demoniacal possession in which these were symp- 
toms. The dilemma is very curious. Outside the 
New Testament, no demoniacal possession, but only 
lunacy and epilepsy ; in the New Testament, no cases 
of lunacy and epilepsy proper, but only demoniacal 

No critique of these views is offered at this stage. 
Their limitations or errors reveal themselves hereafter. 
Nor need additional opinions be now cited.^ The 
foregoing clearly prove the existence of an unsolved 
problem, and directly raise important apologetic issues. 
The subject has sometimes been discussed in the form 
of the dilemma : Possession in the New Testament was 
either real or iinreal. Thence certain far-reaching in- 
ferences have been drawn. 

A. Possession real. — Was this phenomenon, then, 
confined to Palestine and the ministry of our Lord ? 
If so, what was peculiar in the environment ? Or 
was this phenomenon neither local nor temporary ? 

1 The views of Brauu, Conybeare, Delitzsch, Ebrard, Edersheim, 
Ewald, Farmer, Geikie, GfriJrer, Gore, Lardner, Mead, Neander, 
Plummer, Pressense, Row, Sanday, Schwartzkopff, Steinmeyer, 
Trench, Wetstein, Whitehouse, and a host of others, are implicitly 
in view throughout ; but space forbids little more than the mention 
of their names. 

Introcluctorij 9 

If so, where are the instances of it to be discovered 
now ? 

B. Possession unreal. — Was Jesus, then, as ignorant 
and superstitious as His contemporaries ? If so, can 
He still be taken as the guide of mankind in religion ? 
Or did He accommodate Himself to the ignorance and 
superstition of the age ? If so, what becomes of His 
integrity ? 

But this mode of approaching the subject is 
thoroughly vicious ; because the dilemma begs the 
question at issue — the reality of demonic agency. 
It may be handled cleverly by the litterateur, but it 
leads to nothing. Any valid contribution to the 
solution of this problem must make a scientific ex- 
amination of the fundamental facts, and thence work 
upwards towards such conclusions as are well founded. 
When that is done, the dilemma is seen to have no 
place in the discussion at all. 

The narratives of possession in the New Testament 
have often been studied with much diligence but little 
profit ; because their actual setting has been neglected. 
They have a distinct background which is capable 
of being made historically luminous. The current 
doctrine of demons among the Jewish people in the 
time of Christ is to be carefully set forth ; not only 
as a separate system, but in relation to the ethnic 
creed. The superstitions of the period then become 
self-evident, and the attitude of Jesus towards them 
easily discovered from His Own teaching and practice. 

The determination of the environment of the sub- 

10 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

ject is a necessarj preliminary to the question : What 
was possession ? That is first to be considered in its 
medical aspects. The reports of possession are not 
all equally complete. Some are described with copious 
notes of the symptoms presented by the demoniacs ; 
others are simply labelled " demoniac." The detailed 
study of the former leads to a scientific conception of 
the physical aspects of the " demoniac state." It is 
thus possible to pass from the known to the unknown. 
In every case a consistent and reliable diagnosis is 

But medical science concerns itself also with the 
extent of this disorder, the areas affected, the factors 
of causation, the comparative condition of the Jews, 
and modes of treatment. It has a special interest in 
the method of Christ, both as regards its uniqueness 
and its efficiency. This science alone can gauge the 
worth of the psychological explanations now prevalent. 
In making these researches it renders a most import- 
ant service to Apologetics. 

But beyond the discovery of the physical signi- 
ficance of the " demoniac state " lies the question of 
" possession " being more than a purely pathological 
condition. That initiates a further inquiry whose 
data are the notices contained in the Gospels. These 
indicate the existence of a residual feature, super- 
added to the former. That residual factor becomes 
the criterion of genuine demonic possession, surviving 
all naturalistic explanations. It attaches itself to a 
few cases only, and determines two types of " posses- 

Introductory 1 1 

sion " in the New Testament. The cases " self- 
attested " belong to the earlier portion of the ministry 
of our Lord, their absence from its later phases being 
proof that " the strong one " was already bound. By 
the application of this criterion also, the antecedents 
and the limits of genuine demonic possession are 
capable of being determined. 

The preceding discussions permit a new departure 
in the study of three outstanding problems — the 
Beelzebul controversy, the Gerasene affair, and the 
continuance of possession. Each of these has a 
special interest and impo;i'tance. 

1. The Beelzebul controversy gives us a deep in- 
sight into the superstitions of the period. It had its 
natural beginning and middle and end in the cure 
of some of the worst forms of " possession." The 
appeal to " tlie prince of demons " introduces us to 
Bel-Ea of the Babylonians. The scribes and Pharisees 
were immersed in the pseudo-science of their times ; 
the Nine were crippled by the same. Jesus alone is 
mighty in deed and in word, being in a supreme 
degree — Medicus et Illuminator. 

2. The Huxley-Gladstone controversy brought some 
of the difficulties of the Gerasene affaii" into promi- 
nence. It contributed little or nothing to the removal 
of them, as the discussion ended in an obscure and 
trifling side-issue. The difficulties of the story are 
real ; but a restatement of the whole case has now 
become possible. The reports of the Evangelists still 
leave a few details uncertain ; but further research 

12 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

shows that the chief stumbling-blocks of the story, 
physical, legal, moral, and spiritual, admit of a satis- 
factory solution. 

3. The alleged continuance of possession from the 
time of Christ onwards to the present, can now be 
discussed to advantage. The illumination of the 
Apostolic Fathers led them to discard crude ethnic 
superstitions ; but these returned in the writings of 
the Apologists and others ; maintaining themselves in 
some sort from age to age. Genuine demonic posses- 
sion, as set forth in the New Testament, contains an 
element that is natural, another that is supernatural. 
The former belongs to the category of mental disease, 
and still continues ; the latter belongs to the category 
of Satanic opposition, and was summarily suppressed. 
In this department, the words of our Lord have a 
valid application : Now is the crisis of this world : now 
shall the i^rince of this world he cast out. 


Historic Demonology 

npHE doctrine of demonic possession is but a frag- 
-*- ment of the doctrine of demons in general. 
The latter constitutes the setting of the former, and 
cannot be understood apart from it. This environ- 
ment, therefore, requires the most -careful scrutiny 
first of all. From the study of it, interesting and 
important results immediately accrue. 


The Old Testament repeatedly refers to demons ; 
but its rigid application of the monotheistic principle 
placed them outside the pale of the pure religion of 
Israel. They were excluded from public recognition 
as objects of worship and adoration. There is a 
vague conception of them as something " between the 
divine and the human." ^ Some are mere " shadow- 
figures," others are degraded gods, one is a possessing 

A. Some shadow -figures 

These are mostly the relics of ancient superstitions 

^ Cf. Plato, Symposium, 202 D, Me'ra^i' 6*600 re Koi Bvr\To\\ 

14 Demonic Possession in the Nciv Testament 

or imaginations. In ethnic phraseology they may be 
called good or evil, i.e. helpful or harmful ; for the 
distinction is not ethical, but economic. 

1. The good. — By implication, these are discover- 
able in the Fountain of Judgment at Kadesh (Gen. 
xiv. 7) ; in the dread sanctity of the oath by the 
Seven Wells (Gen. xxi. 31; Amos viii. 14): in the 
unchallenged use of the Teraphim (1 Sam. xix. 1,3 : 
Hos. iii. 4) ; in the animated rod of the diviner (Hos. 
iv. 12); in the fairy hosts and tree spirits (Can. ii. 7, 
iii. 5).^ These appear to belong to the dawn of 
history, and may be regarded as part of the heritage 
of primitive races. 

2. The evil. — These are suggestive of an antiquity 
equal to the former, and fall into two divisions. 

(a) Creatures haunting the ivaters. — These recall the 
Creation Legend of Cutha and the Babylonian Myths 
of Berosus. Their importation from the East is 
possible. The founder of the Hebrew race came from 
Ur of the Khasdim (Gen. xi. 31). It was then a 
busy seaport near the mouth of the Euphrates ; 
though now remote from the sea by the rapid silt- 
ing of the channel. The early settlers on the site of 
Ur (Mugheir) must have long maintained a strenuous 
conflict against river floods and tidal inundations ; not 
less than against the serpents of the marshes and 
the strange creatures of the deep. Eeminiscences of 
these early struggles may have passed westwards and 
remained as survivals in the poetry of the Hebrews, 
1 Cf. Baiidissin, Shulicn zur Semitischcn Religionsgcsclikhfc. 

Historic Demonology 15 

celebrating the ancient triumphs of God over ele- 
mental forces and the beasts of the sea. These are 
glanced at in the following and other passages : — 


Job ix. 13. 


Isa. xxvii. 1. 

The Sea . 

Ps. Ixxiv. 13 


Isa. xxvii. 1. 

Sea Serpent 

Amos ix. 3. 

(h) Creatures haunting the desert. — There are two 
passages in Isaiah which in their present form may 
be post- exilic, but which are charged with ideas 
essentially primeval. 

The oracle concerning the desolation of Babylon : 
Wild cats of the desert shall lie there ; their houses 
shall be full of doleful creatures ; ostriches shall dwell 
there, and Seirim shall dance there.^ And wolves 
shall cry in their castles, and jackals in their pleasant 
palaces (Isa. xiii. 21, 22). 

The oracle concerning the desolation of Edom : Wild 
cats of the desert shall meet w4th the wolves,- and 
the satyr shall cry to his fellow ; yea, Lilith shall 
settle there, and shall find her a place of rest. There 
shall the arrow-snake make her nest, and lay, and 
hatch, and gather under her shadow" (Isa. xxxiv. 
14, 15). 

The creatures here enumerated seem to correspond 
to the Jinn of the Southern Semites. The primitive 

^ Seirim shall dance there ; LXX : Aaifj-bvia iKel 6pxy]67](TovTai. 
^ Wild cats of the desert sliall meet with tlie wolves ; LXX : 
"Zwavr-ffffovcFL daifidfia ovoKevraijpoii (tailless apes. Aelian, Hist. Nat,). 

16 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

sons of the desert are always moving as in an en- 
chanted land. The fierce glare of the sun and the 
unequal refraction of the atmosphere play strange 
tricks with the vision of the traveller ; so that on the 
horizon, the skulking denizens of the desert assume the 
most paradoxical forms, even without the aid of the 
imagination. Then, when the daylight dies, the beasts 
of the wild come forth and the scene becomes a howl- 
ing desert, where strange forms, in awful guise, flit 
hither and thither, half-concealed and half-revealed ; 
assailing the ear with dismal voices. By day or night 
on the open waste, the wanderer or huntsman finds 
himself confronted by beings superior to himself in 
strength, agility, cunning, and keenness of vision. 
These he invests with superhuman attributes as 
objects of dread or veneration, to be vanquished by 
spells or appeased by offerings. Hence the Jinn are 
a numerous host ; corporeal, mutable at will, assuming 
at times the human form, always retaining some 
bestial trait. Shagginess is a frequent feature ; and 
that is the special trait of the Seirim. The name is 
variously applied to "goats" (Lev. iv. 24), "devils" 
(Lev. xvii. 7), "satyrs" (Isa. xiii. 21). The term 
readily includes such goat-like creatures {camcornia) 
as the gazelle. The serpent, the ostrich, the wild cat, 
the wolf, the jackal, and the gazelle, belong distinctly 
to the Jinn of the Southern Semites.^ 

Lilith has features attaching her also to the Jinn, 
though a Babylonian origin has been claimed for her. 

^ W. R. Smith, BclUjion of the Semites, p. 121 il'. 

Historic Demonologij 17 

Sayce asserts that lil is the dust-storm, and the name 
was applied to ghosts whose food was dust. When 
the word was borrowed by the Semites, it became 
lillum (masc), and lilatu (fern.). Lilatu was the hand- 
maid of the lil, and soon came to be confounded with 
the Semitic lilatu — the night. The latter was ulti- 
mately identified with Lilat, the night-demon that 
sucked the blood of her sleeping victims.^ But the 
Babylonian extraction of Lilith is not thereby proven. 
Her nearest counterpart is not the vampire, but the 
ghul. The foregoing congeners of Lilith are dwellers 
in the desert ; and in the Targum on Job i. 1 5 , Lilith 
is the queen of Zemargad. Now Zemargad is Sheba.^ 
There seems no need to postulate exilic or post-exilic 
influence to account for more than the name Lilith. 
This creature belongs apparently to a far-off age. 

B. The degraded gods 

In picturesque language the prophets had long 
carried on a vigorous polemic against the claims of 
the heathen divinities. A few instances of this rich 
vein of oriental scorn are subjoined. The gods are 
derided as — 

Lies ..... Amos ii. 4. 
Breath .... Deut. xxxii. 21. 

Xo-god .... Jer. xvi. 20. 

^ Sayce, Hibhert Lectures, pp. 145, 146. Cf. Maspero, Datcn of 
Civilisation, p. 632. The vampire is the dead of either sex, tliat leaves 
the grave to suck the blood of the sleeper. Such is the 'aluqam (Dpi'?v) 
ofProv. XXX. 15, otherwise the "horse-leech." 

- The modern Yemen in South Arabia. 

18 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Blocks .... Ezek. xx. 7. 

Carcases .... Lev. xxvi. 30. 

Emptiness .... 1 Sam. xii. 21. 

Nothing . . . . Ps. xcvi. 5. 

The stern logic of events had demonstrated at once 
the utter hnpotence of the heathen gods as effective 
agents in history, and the peerlessness of Jehovah as 
Governor among the nations. The pretensions of 
those deities were completely exposed, and their 
worship in Israel was forthwith discountenanced. A 
fatal blow was struck at their supremacy. They 
became " lies," " emptiness," and " nothings." De- 
prived thus of public recognition and support, they 
sank to that vague position which the conventions of 
the East assign to demonic creatures. But their 
viability was not impaired. Over their pagan devo- 
tees they were still supposed to exercise authority 
(Judg. xi. 24). Yet for the true worshippers of 
Jehovah they were practically non-existent. A pure 
monotheism had transmuted them into an absolutely 
negligible quantity. They were but impotent Shedim, 
and mere nothings. In two passages this wholesale 
reduction of heathen gods to the rank of demons is 
set forth — 

They sacrificed to Shedim, to no-god. Dent, xxxii. 17. 
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to Shedim. 
Ps. cvi. 37. 

The name Shedim — once derived from the 
Hebrew ni:;' — is now regarded as a Babylonian loan- 
word — Shidu, a genius, good or evil ; represented by 

Historic Dcmonology 19 

the bull-colossus. This demonising of the heathen 
gods has been ascribed to Babylonian influence. That 
is surely a mistake ; for this process is the result of 
the monotheistic principle which asserted that Jehovah 
was the first and the last, and that beside Him there 
was no God. 

This reduction of the heathen divinities to the 
rank of demons is unique in Israel in regard to 
monotheism, which was its motive. But the relega- 
tion of heathen gods to positions of dishonour is a 
process which is always going forward. Polytheism 
is essentially in a state of unstable equilibrium. Its 
deities are constantly in a state of flux. The Indian 
sage quaintly remarks that " many thousands of Indras 
have passed away in course of time, in every age of 
the world." Indeed, wars and revolutions have not 
been more fateful to earthly potentates than to pagan 
divinities ; while barbaric caprice and unlettered 
philosophy have often caused them to shrivel up to 
the dimensions of subaltern spirits. Thus, Baal and 
Set, the gods of the Shepherd -Kings, became the 
possessing spirits of the later Egyptians. The Vedic 
Dsevas, originally the gods in heaven, are now the 
demons of the Parsees. The Brahmanic deities of 
the ancient Cingalese survive as the demons of 
Buddhistic Ceylon. The classical divinities of Greece 
and Eome were transmuted into the demons of 
the early Christians. The gods of the old heathen 
Arabs are counted among the Jinn of Islamic 

20 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

C. A 2'>osscssing demon 

It has been repeatedly asserted that " possession " 
is unknown to the Old Testament. Keim declared it 
" a modern disease among the Jews." That is virtu- 
ally the opinion of Meyer also. But the case of Saul 
is undoubtedly to be regarded as one of possession by 
an evil spirit. The terms describing the mode of 
action of this spirit are analogous to those which set 
forth the action of the Holy Spirit upon man ; but 
the effects produced are those attributed by the ethnic 
creed to possessing spirits. 

Of Saul it is said — 

When the evil sj^irit of Elohim is upon Qy) thee. 1 Sam. xvi. 16. 
The evil spirit of Elohim came ujjon (^x) Saul. 1 Sam. xviii. 10. 
The evil spirit of Jahveh came upon (^j{) Saul. 1 Sam, xix. 9. 

Of the Spirit of God it is said — 

The spirit of Elohim came upon (^y) him. Num. xxiv. 2. 
The spirit of Jahveh came upon (^y) him. Judg. iii. 10. 
The spirit of Jahveh shall come upon (^y) thee. 1 Sam. x. 6. 
The spirit of Elohim came upon (^y) Azariah. 2 Chron. xv. 1. 
The spirit of Jahveh shall rest upon Cpy) him. Isa. xi. 2. 

The evil spirit terrifies Saul (1 Sam. xvi. 14); 
when it leaves him, he is well (1 Sam. xvi. 23); 
when it returns, he is ill (1 Sam. xviii. 10); it causes 
him to prophesy (rave) in his house (1 Sam. xviii. 10); 
it incites him to murder (1 Sam. xix. 9, 10). The 
nomenclature and the details of the narrative fully 
confirm the opinion that Saul's illness was regarded 
as demonic in nature. 

Historic Demonology 21 


The translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into 
Greek was undertaken in Alexandria under Ptolemy 
Philadelphus (284—246 B.C.), and completed some- 
where about 150 B.C. The work is of very unequal 
merit, and the translators manifest a freedom which 
is variously traceable to prejudice, insight, or ignorance. 
It shows that the demonising of the heathen gods was 
still proceeding apace, as the following parallels indi- 
cate : — 

1. Ps. xcvi. (xcv.) 5 — 

All the gods of the heathen are nothings. 
All the gods of the heathen are demons. 
TLavTes ol deal rav idvav ^aijxovia. 

2. Isa. Ixv. 3 

Burning incense upon bricks. 

They burn incense upon bricks (to demons that are not). 

QvfllUKTLV €771 TOIS TrXivdoiS Tols SailXOVlOlS ii OVK iOTLV. 

3. Isa. Ixv. 11 — 

Ye are they that prepare a table for Fortune. 
Preparing also a table for the demon. 
'Eroi/xafoi're? tS Sat/xoi'ico rpuTre^av. 

4. Ps. xci. (xc.) 6 

For the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 
For mischance and the demon of noonday. 
'Atto (TviiTTTutixaTos Koi 8aiixov[ov fiea-qjx^pivov. 

The demon of noonday is a novel figure which can 
hardly owe its origin to a flaw in the Hebrew text.^ 
The adjacent discrepancies of the Septuagiut lead to 
the belief that the translation is here very free. Tlie 

1 nen for nit". 

22 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

idea that demons devote their attention to certain 
portions of the day is an ethnic one. Theocritus, who 
visited Alexandria shortly before the translation of 
the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, warns the shepherd 
against playing on his pipe at noon, lest he disturb 
the noonday rest of Pan.^ The same thought recurs 
in the literature of the Babylonians, the Persians, and 
other peoples. 


The iconoclasm which transformed the gods into 
demons still continues here. In the Book of Enoch 
reference is made to those who " worship foul spiidts 
and demons " (xcix.) ; the angels being charged as 
they that led men thus astray (xix.). In the Sibylline 
Oracles, it is written : Ye shall have the reward of 
your evil council ; because, neglecting the true and 
everlasting God, ye have made your sacrifices to the 
demons in Hades (Proem 19—22). Eome is censured 
for worshipping " soulless demons, ghosts of tlie de- 
parted dead " (viii. 47). Demons are also said to 
have blood poured out to them (viii. 38G), and are 
again scorned as " dead" (viii. 393). In the Book of 
Baruch mention is made of sacrificing to demons and 
not to God (iv. 7). 

The story of the fallen Bene-Elohim of Gen. vi. 2, 
was greatly exploited in later times, and a doctrine of 
1 IdyUs, i. 15-18. 

Historic Demonology 23 

demons was attached to it. According to the Book 
of Enoch, the giants produced " from spirit and flesh 
will be called evil spirits upon the earth, and on earth 
will be their habitation. Evil spirits proceed from 
their bodies because they are created from above ; from 
the Heavenly Watchers is their beginning and primal 
origin. They will be evil spirits upon the earth, and 
evil spirits will they be named. And the spirits of 
the giants will devour, oppress, attack, do battle, cause 
destruction on earth, and work affliction. They will 
rise up against the children of men and against the 
women (xv., xvi.)." 

In the Book of Jubilees, demons are said to arise 
from the fallen angels. They harass and deceive the 
sons of Noah ; whereupon the patriarch prays, and the 
good angels bind them. But Mastemah, their chief, 
entreated that some of them might be left to do his 
will. So one tenth were left ; but the remainder 
were reserved for judgment. These demons intro- 
duced diseases, which the good angels taught Noah 
how to combat by the use of medicine and herbs. 
God rules over Israel to the good of the nation ; but 
angels and demons lord it over the Gentiles with 


disastrous results (v. x.). 

In the Testimony of the Twelve Patriarchs, man is 
said to have received seven spirits — life, sight, hear- 
ing, smell, speech, taste, procreation. With these 
Beliar has mingled spirits of error — fornication, greed, 
pugnacity, flattery, arrogance, falseliood, injustice 
(Reub. 2, 3). Spirits of error, spirits of fornification 

24 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

and pride, are also mentioned (Dan. 5). These are, 
however, personifications rather than specific entities. 

In the Book of Tobit, Sarah the daughter of Eaguel 
is beloved of a jealous demon (vi. 15), who has killed 
her seven husbands in the bridal chamber (iii. 8). 
This demon is not a danger to Sarah personally, but to 
the newly-wedded husbands. His name, Asmodffius, is 
not derivable from the Hebrew not', to destroy ; though 
Shamdon is found in the Talmud. He is the ^shma- 
Dffiva of the Zend-Avesta. According to Darmesteter, 
the dsevas by an accident of language became demons.^ 
According to the same authority, ^shma-Dseva be- 
longs to the group of the storm demons — the Drvants, 
Dvarants, Dregvants — " the running ones." ^ The 
leader of the onset is iEshma — "the raving "^ — "the 
fiend of the wounding spear." At first ^shma was 
a mere epithet of the storm fiend, but afterwards be- 
came an abstract, viz, the demon of rage and anger; 
finally, an expression for all moral wickedness, a mere 
name of Ahriman. Windischmann, Fritzsche, and 
others translate the name as " covetous," " lustful." 
Fuller has taken the attribute as Babylonian ; though 
the name be Persian. There are certain features 
answering to the description of the Babylonian 
spirits — 

Wife tliey have not, son they know not. 
Prayer and supplication hear they not. 

They snatch the wife from the husband's embrace, 
They drive the man from the bridal chamber. 

1 Zend-Avesta, vol. i. Ixxx. - Ihid. vol. i. Ixvii. 

Historic Dcmonology 25 

But such traits are not the monopoly of the Baby- 
lonian spirits. An incident of a similar nature, tacitly 
demonic, befalls Zoroaster.^ Indeed, the demon-lover 
is frequently encountered in the study of anthropology. 
Accepting Asmodseus as undoubtedly of Persian origin, 
it is, nevertheless, impossible to accept the view of 
Kohut, who sees in this demon a triple combination of 
Persian attributes — 

Angro-Mainyu, the death-angel. 
Akom-mano or evil concupiscence. 
Azi-Dahaka, the triple-headed serpent. 

That produces a monster of deadliness, passion, and 
craft which is without parallel elsewhere, and enor- 
mously in excess of the simple remedies employed 
under the direction of the angel Eaphael, for getting 
rid of Asmodseus — the heart and liver of the magic fish 
on embers of ashes (Tob. vi. 16, viii. 2). 


The Ptabbis had one comprehensive category for 
the powers of evil — the Mazziqin or Hurtful Ones. 
Supreme over all was Satan-Sammael, " the augel, the 
offender, the head of all the satans" (Debar, Pi. C. 11). 
These Mazziqin consisted of two sections : one com- 
posed of purely spiritual beings, the other of half- 
spirits (halbgeister). The latter are variously desig- 
nated as Shedim, Seirim, Euchin, Piuchoth, and Lilin. 

^ Zend-Avesta, vol. ii. p. 195. 

- Appendix A, Rabbinic Literature. 

26 Demonic Possession in the Ne%o Testament 

The doctrine of demons is highly developed, and lays 
claim to direct verification. The following is the 
elegant preparation for opening the eyes : — • 

Whosoever desires to see the demons, let him take 
the after-birth of a black cat which is also the daughter 
of a black cat, both being firstborn. Let him burn 
it in the fire ; then powder it. Seal the powder in 
an iron tube with an iron signet ; then fill the eyes 
with it (Ber. 6a). It is said that Eabbi Bibi per- 
formed this experiment with complete success ; but 
was hurt by the demons. He was, however, restored 
to health by the intercession of the Eabbis. Such an 
adventurous stance, with this ingenious eye salve, ought 
to carry conviction regarding the truth of the Eab- 
binic doctrine of demons to the minds of the most 

Origin. — That is variously reported. Thus, the 
demons w^ere created on the eve of the first Sabbath 
(Pes. 54a). Their souls were ready; but the Sabbath 
drew on before their bodies were prepared. Creation 
was ended, and thus they remained (Pirqe Abh. 12&; 
Ber. E. 7). Again, they are the progeny of Adam 
and Eve, during the one hundred and thirty years 
which elapsed before the birth of Seth. The demons 
are the offspring of Adam on the one hand, with 
Lilith or the Lilin ; or of Eve on the other, with the 
Shedim (Erub. 18& ; Ber. E. 20). Another account 
derives them from that section of the race which was 
scattered abroad at the building of the tower of Babel, 
At " the time of scattering," those who said, We will 

Historic Demonology 27 

ascend into heaven, were transformed into Shedim, 
Euchiu, Lilin, and monkeys" (Sanh. 109a; Yalkut 
Shim. Ber. 62). Some are derived from a male 
hyena, which in successive periods of seven years be- 
comes a bat, a vampire, a nettle (thistle), a thorn, a 
demon (Baba Kamma 16a). Demons are also said 
to arise from the backbone of him who has not 
bent in worship (Baba Kamma 16a; Jer. Shab. 36). 
Being male and female, they propagate their kind. 
Mention is made of the son of a Shed (Chag. 16a). 
Ahriman is the son of Lilith (Baba Bathra 73a). 
Demons may be the souls of the wicked dead (Yalkut 
Shim. Is. 46& ; Jos. B. J. vii. vi. 3).^ 

Numlcrs. — The whole world is full of the Mazziqin 
(Tanch. Mish. 19). Lilith, the queen of female 
demons, roams about with eighteen myriads in her 
train (Pes. 1125). Abba Benjamin says that if our 
eyes were permitted to see the malignant spirits that 
beset us, we could not rest on account of them. E. 
Hunna mentions one thousand at the left hand, ten 
thousand at the right.^ Shedim swarm round brides ; 
and in the Academies they cause crowding and the 
feeling of weariness in the knees of the Kabbis ; ^ 
even wearing out the clothes of the sages by hustling 

^ Joseplius here contradicts one of the tenets of his own sect ; as 
he elsewhere asserts that the Pharisees held that "souls have an im- 
mortal vigour in them, and that iinder the earth there will be rewards 
or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously 
in this life ; and the latter are to be retained in an everlasting prison " 
{Ant. xviii. i. 3 ; cf. B. J. Ii. viii. 14). 

^ Cf. Ps. xci. 7. ^ Bruising of the legs ? 

28 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

against them (Ber. 6«). Three hundred species of 
male demons are mentioned in Gittin 68a. 

Forms. — Their appearance is mostly human ; but 
they assume other forms at will. Their reflection, 
however, is different from that of a man. Those 
associated with dirty places are themselves black 
(Kidd. 72a). Those that dwell in the caper bushes 
are blind (Pes. 111&). In three things they resemble 
angels — they possess wings, they can fly from one end 
of the earth to the other, they know the future by 
listening behind the veil of the Upper Sanctuary. In 
three things they are like men — they eat and drink, 
they produce their kind, they are subject to death 
(Chag, 16a). Demons have the feet of fowls, and by 
strewing the floor with fine ashes, their gallinaceous 
footprints may be discovered (Ber. 6a; Gittin 68&). 
Lilith is sometimes represented as a fair woman, but 
mostly covered with luxuriant hair (Nidd. 24& ; Erub. 
100&). A demon appeared in the school of Abaji, a 
dangerous seven-headed monster, injuring the men in 
pairs, even in the daytime. Some demons have round 
their faces a covering like asses driving a mill (Tanch, 
Mish. 19). When conjured up, the Shedim appear 
with head or feet uppermost, according to the mode of 

Haunts. — Demons infest all places. The atmo- 
sphere is charged with them. They invade the Upper 
Sanctuary itself. Abaji says that they surround us as 
earthed-up soil in garden beds. They are thus at the 
elbows of the living everywhere. They lurk in 

Historic Demonology 29 

crumbs on the floor, and rest on the surface of 
drinking water, and on oil in vessels. They are set 
over all even numbers, and care must therefore be 
taken not to drink an even number of cups (Ber. 51Z>). 
They are found on hands that remain unwashen for 
religious purposes, and on water that has been thus 
used. The blind prefer caper bushes for their abode. 
These things annoy demons — tin^ning in between a 
wall and a date-palm or between two date-palms, 
drinking borrowed water, or stepping across spilt 
water (Pes. Ilia). Shadows cast by the moon, 
certain trees, and other objects may be the lurking 
place of demons. The places of uncleanness are highly 
congenial to them. Graveyards are their favourite 
resorts (Nidd. 17a; Chag. 3, 6). When a man spends 
a night there, a demon may descend upon him. 
" The searcher after the dead " remained fasting on a 
grave to get into touch with an unclean spirit.^ Euins 
should not be entered on account of these foes 
(Ber. 3a). Euined baths are their beloved haunts. 
There they may cause injury in the daytime, even in 
the presence of two men (Kidd. 3"9&). One ought not 
to sleep in a house alone, for fear of Lilith (Shab. 1516). 
Demons invade the Academies. Samaria and Tiberias 
had their local Shedim.^ The desert is, however, their 
special home (Ber. 3a). There one may hear them 
howl (Jer. Targ. I. Deut. xxxii. 10). They may be 
connected with certain animals, such as the mad dog ; 

1 Cf. Isa. Ixv. 4. 

- The latter was built on the site of an old burying-grouud. 

30 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

apparently also with the fly of Egypt, the wasp of 
Nineveh, the scorpion of Hadabiah, the serpent of the 
land of Israel (Shab. 121&). The stubborn ass and 
the bull from the cane-brake are likewise associated 
with demons. In the case of the latter, one is warned 
not to face the bull ; for a satan sports between his 
horns (Pes. 112&). 

Times of activity. — The demons form themselves 
into bands (Ber. 51«), "the society of the angels of 
destruction." According to the same passage, a whole 
legion lies in wait for a person to fall into their hands, 
on the commission of some fault. Their action is thus 
a kind of obsession which may readily pass into posses- 
sion. The demons have been arranged in four classes, 
according to the divisions of the day — 

Tsaphririn or morning spirits (Targ. Ps. cxxi. 16 ; 
Targ. Cant. iv. 6). 

Tiharin or midday spirits (Targ. Ps. Jon. Deut. 
xxxii. 24 ; Targ. Cant. iv. 6). 

Telanin or evening spirits (Targ. Cant. iii. 8, iv. 6 ; 
Targ. Eccles. ii. 5). 

Lilin or night spirits (Targ. Ps. Jon. Deut. xxxii. 
34 ; Targ. Is. xxxiv. 14). 

The morning and evening spirits seem least baleful. 
The midday demons start at noon to destroy (Targ. 
2 Chron. xi. 15 ; Ps. xci. 7). The Lilin are the most 
malignant. On account of them it is particularly 
dangerous to drink water on the eve of Wednesday or 
the Sabbath. To do so is to have one's blood on one's 
own head. Similarly, the night-traveller has to brave 

Historic Demonoloyy 31 

great perils on these occasions also (Pes. 112a Z>). 
This is said to have been due to the imprudent 
generosity of Eabbi Chanina, who had once been 
threatened with serious harm by Agrath, the daughter 
of Machloth. He escaped, because his greatness was 
known in heaven ; and he would have imposed his 
majesty on the demoness by banning her from all in- 
habited places. In the end, however, he gave her 
liberty for the occasions mentioned. The Lilin are 
specially deadly to children who venture out of the 
house during the hours of darkness. Even for adults 
the night was reckoned most unsafe without a torch ; 
though moonlight was far safer. Under cover of 
darkness, demons surround the house and injure those 
that fall into their hands. The risk of going out to 
unclean places was enormous (Shab. 67ft; Ber. oah, 
62«). A company of tw^o generally escaped the 
danger, but not always (Kidd. 39&). Before three 
persons the Shed did not even venture to appear 
(Ber. 43&). No one should greet a person in the 
dark, as he might unwittingly wish a demon God- 
speed (Sanh. 44a). Shabriri was always a menace to 
those who drank water by night. Unless special pre- 
cautions were taken, such individuals rushed into the 
danger of death. At cock-crow, the power of the 
demons of the night comes to an end, and they return 
to their places (Ber. E. 36). 

Powers. — These have been in part adverted to ; but 
others remain which are peculiar and varied. Demons 
have the gift of speech ; and Eabbi Ben Zacchai knew 

32 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

their language as well as that of the angels (Succah 
28a). They know the future and the past, so that 
they may be consulted in both respects ; but questions 
about lost property had better not be directed to them 
on the Sabbath (Sanh. 101a). Accidents, such as 
an encounter wdth a bull, are traceable to tliem. 
Chamath, the demon of oil, causes eruptions on the 
face ; Cardicus (Cardiacus) is a demon that rules over 
those who take too much w^ine ; also causing headache 
(Gittin 11 h). Asinam causes the birth of epileptic 
children on Sabbath night. Asmodaeus tempted 
Noah, saying to the planter of the vine, Let me 
partake with thee.^ Shabriri smites with blindness 
at night. Bath-Chorin is a demoness of sickness, 
resting on the hands at night. Disease in general is 
caused by demons. Sick women, at and after child- 
birth ; also brides, bridegrooms, mourners, and the 
pupils of the Eabbis, are specially obnoxious to the 
demons of darkness (Ber. 546). To demons are 
ascribed leprosy (Horayoth 10a), rabies (Yoma 83&), 
croup (Yoma lib; Taanith 2 0&), asthma (Bekhoroth 
446), cardiac disease (Gittin 676). Nervous diseases 
are the speciality of evil demons ; such as epilepsy 
(Shab. Bab, 67a; Jos. Ant. vi. viii. 2, viii. ii. 5). 
Eambanus says that the Jews held that all kinds of 
melancholy were due to an evil spirit.^ Bodily dis- 
tortions and mental distractions were thus produced.^ 
Shibta causes convulsive ailments among children, 

^ Lightfoot, Horce Hchraiccc. Sec on Luke xi. 15, xiii. 14 ; Matt, 
xviii. 15. 

Historic Demonology 33 

specially at night. Possessing spirits are always 
busy. Among the humbler functions of the Shedim 
was the sending of evil dreams (Ber. 556), or com- 
pelling a man to go beyond the Sabbath boundary 
(Erub. 41&), or inducing one to eat the passover- 
bread (Rosh-ha-Shanah 28a), or causing a religious 
crank to afflict himself with fasting (Bab. Taanith 

Restrictions. — Life would be intolerable if the 
demons had all their own way. But, like Satan- 
Sammael, they are under strict limitations. They are 
" half-spirits " ; and are therefore possessed of a semi- 
sensuous or psycho-sarcous constitution. This imposes 
upon them many restrictions. They require susten- 
ance ; and that they find in certain essences, or in the 
elements of fire and water. Wine is a great abomina- 
tion to them as to Ashmedai, their chief. Pungent 
odours or loathsome smells are equally detested by 
them. The blind may suffer death by misadventure. 
One such pursued a Eabbi ; but tripped over a root 
and was killed (Pes. 11 1&). In any case, all of them 
are mortal. They are said to be unable to create any- 
thing. They can produce nothing, save their own 
kind. They have no power over what has been 
measured or sealed or tied up (Chullin 105Z»). 
According to their divisions, their activities are con- 
fined to the hours, the days, and the environments 
noted. On the evening of the Passover, they are 
bound (Pes. 1095-112&). The loss of the divine 
image has rendered man subject to those agents of 

34 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

mischief and destruction. Originally he was immune 
from such attacks (Ber. E. 23). 

Management. — By human agency, further curtail- 
ments of the powers of demons become possible. 
Torchlight by night, washing of hands, ablutions 
against Shibta, phylacteries, and amulets, are all pro- 
tective. The last might or might not contain a verse 
of Scripture, but magic formula} instead, the worth of 
which seems to have been inversely proportional to 
their rationality. Along with these had to be in- 
serted the names and numbers of the demons aimed 
at. To ward off danger anticipated from drinking 
water on the eve of Wednesday or the Sabbath, it 
was enough to repeat the formula : Lul, Shaphan, 
Anigron, Anirdaphin, — between the stars I sit, be- 
tween the fat and the lean I walk (Pes. 112&). If 
alone by night and compelled to drink, one might 
scare away Shabriri thus. The person struck with 
tlie lid of the jug into the jug, saying : Thou N. the 
son of N., thy mother has warned thee and said : 
Beware of Shabriri, Beriri, Piiri, Iri, Ki, who is in the 
white cups (Abod. Zara 12&). According to Eashi, 
the demon gets weaker as each syllable of his name 
is dropped, and at last he flees in terror. But some- 
times the drinking of water was reckoned too danger- 
ous to be attempted at all. To neutralise the danger 
arising from having to step over spilt water, it was 
necessary to spit on the water or to take the shoes 
off (Pes. Ilia). The application of rouge removed 
" The Princess," a demoness injurious to the eyes 

Historic Bemonology 35 

(Shab. 109a). The covenant salt (Lev. ii. 13 ; Num. 
xviii. 19), eaten and drunk at every meal, has great 
defensive virtue (Ber. 40 a). Circumcision was ap- 
parently held in much esteem (Origen, C. C. v. 48). 
The keeping of certain ordinances, such as the Feast 
of Tabernacles, was likewise deemed useful (Pesiqta 
187a). To jump four cubits, or to repeat the Shema : 
" Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord," was 
reckoned potent against evil spirits. If the place 
were not fit for repetition, then a person might 
mutter: The goat at the butcher's is fatter than I 
(Sanh. 94a). The demon of foul places had this 
hurled at him : On the head of the lion and on the 
nose of the lioness, I found the demon, Bar-Shiriqa 
Panda. I cast him into a bed of cresses and beat 
him with the jawbone of an ass (Shab. 67a). Among 
the more laudable means of managing demons was 
the simple recitation of passages of Scripture, such as 
Ps. xci., before falling asleep ; or Ps. xxix. 3-9", con- 
taining the " qol " or voice, seven times. Prayer also 
takes high rank among agencies, prophylactic and 
remedial. By this means, Eabbi Acha was more than 
a match for the seven-headed monster which infested 
the school of Abaji ; the seven heads dropping off 
with the lowly genuflections of the Piabbi (Kidd. 29Z/). 
The pronunciation of the Aaronic blessing by the 
priest affords defence. The keeping is done by the 
guardian angels whom God assigns to the faithful. 
So long as the angel calls to the Mazziqin, " Give 
honour to the image of the Holy One," man remains 

36 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

in peace ; but when he is silent, man is injured 
(Tanch. Mish. 19). Mention is often made of sacri- 
fices to demons (Targ. Onk. Lev. xvii. 7). All the 
Shedim may be vanquished by the Ineffable Name 
(Ber. 5a). The management of the possessing demons 
receives separate treatment. 

Redeeming features. — While most of the demons 
were said to be hostile to man, some were believed 
to be harmless or even helpful. These constitute the 
class of the good demons, whose existence added to 
the glory of God. Some of them were learned in the 
Law and were even tutors of the Eabbis ; such as 
the Shed, Joseph (Pes. 110«), and the Shed, Jonathan 
(Yeb. 122a). Eabbi Papa had a young Shed to wait 
on him (ChuUin 105&). Demons might at times be 
eminently reasonable. Thus, the prince of demons 
once detected a Eabbi distributing alms at night. 
This was a manifest infringement of the demon's 
nocturnal rights, and the latter aptly quoted the 
words. Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's laud- 
mark. With equal wit and courtesy the Eabbi 
replied, A gift in secret pacifieth anger. Thereupon 
the demon fled (Ber. Peah viii. 9). To conjure up 
and to make use of demons, even on the Sabbath, was 
considered legitimate, but dangerous ; unless ample 
precautions were taken (Sanh. 65a &). Any latent 
danger might be warded off by wily conjurors who 
knew how to render their demons innocuous (Sanh. 
67&; Pes. 110&). Still, several accidents did happen. 
R. Isaac had a parlous experience with a wrathful 

Historic Dcmonology 37 

demon. He was saved only by a cedar tree thought- 
fully opening of its own accord to receive him ; then 
bursting again to set him free when the danger was 
over (Sanh. 101«). Death is said to have overtaken 
certain operators ; but that supposes contributory 
negligence. The Egyptian magicians, by demonic help, 
withstood Moses. In the same way, all that the 
prophets and great men of the past had done might 
be repeated or simulated (Shemoth E. 9).^ Demons 
might be summoned even for the cure of disease. 
The following is an euphemistic appeal to them as 
angels : " Baz, Bazijah, Mas, Masijah, Kas, Kasijah, 
Sharlai, and Amarlai, ye angels that come from Sodom 
to heal painful boils ! Let the colour not become 
more red ! Let it not further spread ! Let its seed 
be absorbed in the belly ! As a mule does not pro- 
pagate itself ; so let not this evil propagate itself in 
the body of M., the son of M." (Shab. Q7a) ! 

The Asmodseus of the Book of Tobit is a surly, 
malignant being ; but the Ashmedai of Solomon is 
a jolly, humane, obliging, and astute demon ; though 
crafty and unreliable. Solomon had some instructive 
adventures with him. When the king was about to 
build the Temple, as iron tools were forbidden, the 
king sought the services of the worm, Shamir, which 
was mighty in the cutting of stones. The worm was 
not at hand ; and for its discovery, Solomon, at the 
advice of the Sanhedrim, conjured up a male and female 
demon. Though tortured, these Shedim could only 
1 Cf. Rev. xvi. 14. 

38 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

refer the king to Ashmedai, their prince. He was 
then lodging at the bottom of a deep well, on the 
top of a high mountain. On leaving his lair in the 
morning, Ashmedai sealed the mouth of the cistern 
against his return. Solomon sent Benaiali, armed 
with his own signet-ring bearing the Ineffable Name ; 
also a heavy iron chain, with some skins of wine and 
other accessories. Benaiah, arriving at his destina- 
tion, set artfully to work ; drained the well from 
beneath without touching the seal of Ashmedai; 
and introduced the wine instead of the water. The 
prince of demons returned from heaven, whither he 
went daily to hear the decrees of the Upper San- 
hedrim ; examined the seal, which he found unbroken ; 
and descended the cistern to quench his thirst. He 
was surprised to find wine instead of water ; but 
though detesting it, the drouthy demon imbibed too 
freely and fell asleep. Benaiah now promptly 
emerged from his ambush close at hand, and secured 
" The Prince " when " drunk and incapable." Ash- 
medai was thereafter led away captive to Solomon ; 
but on the journey contrived to do several kind 
things. He hailed a blind man and put him on the 
right way ; because he had heard in heaven that he 
was perfectly righteous, and whoso helped him, would 
attain to the life to come. He did the same for a 
drunken man ; though he knew that he was a 
thorough villain. But he oblis-ed him that the 
scoundrel might not lose all o-ood in this world. 
Ashmedai beheld a wedding procession and wept over 

Historic Dcmonology 39 

it ; for he knew that in thirty days the bridegroom 
would die, and the bride would have to wait thirteen 
years (to marry an infant brother). He laughed at 
the man who ordered a pair of shoes to last him 
seven years ; for he knew that he had but seven days 
to live. He uttered shrieks of scorn at a juggler ; for 
with all his tricks he did not know that a king's 
ransom was beneath his feet. After his arrival, 
Solomon learned that the worm Shamir was in charge 
of the moor-cock,^ to which it had been entrusted by 
the prince of the sea. The nest of this fowl was soon 
found ; and over it was put a glass shade, so that 
the bird saw its young but could not come at them. 
Thereupon the moor-cock ran off to fetch Shamir to 
cleave the glass. On its return with the same, the 
messengers of Solomon shouted, when Naggar Tura 
dropped the worm, which was instantly carried off by 
the envoys of the king. But the moor-cock, unable 
to restore the worm to the prince of the sea, went 
and strangled himself. Ashmedai was long kept in 
custody, and the Temple was built by the aid of 
Shamir. But " The Prince " avenged himself on 
Solomon ; securing his seal with the Ineffable Name, 
then swallowing him alive, and afterwards belching 
him forth, four hundred miles away. Ashmedai now 
reigned in his stead, and Solomon wandered about as 
a beggar. He came at last to the house of the 
Sanhedrim, where he went on repeating the words : 

1 The moor-cock, Taniegol Eera (Targ. Ps. 1. 11), is otlienvise 
Naggar Tura, tlie "mountain-splitter." 

40 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testayncnt 

I, the preacher, was kmg in Jerusalem. Suspicion 
now fell upon Ashmedai, who was still masquerading 
in the palace under the guise of Solomon. The floor 
was then strewn with fine ashes to discover the traces 
of the demon's feet ; but the wily Ashmedai frustrated 
these designs by wearing socks over his cock's toes. 
The signet-ring was at length found again ; having 
been swallowed by a fish. The demon was now 
deforced in turn, by the might of the Ineffable 
Name, vanishing into thin air (Gittin 68«&). It is 
said that after these escapades, Solomon was afraid 
of the demons, and had his couch surrounded by 
" threescore valiant men " (Cant. iii. 7,8). Prior to 
those events, he had such power over the demons 
that at his bidding, they danced before him (II Targ. 
ii. 1, 3 ; Pesiqta 456V 


Ethnic parallels to Jewish demonology are easily 
obtained from the huge mass of material now available. 
A limited selection only is offered. The position of 
Philo is not remote from that of Herbert Spencer. 
The former remarks that " souls, demons, and angels 
differ indeed in name ; but by conceiving the under- 
lying element as one and the same, you will get rid of 

^ The story here rests on a eonfusion of two similar Hebrew letters 
in Eccles. ii. 8 — 

Men-singers, nnr. Women-singers, nrw. 

Male demons, mt". Female demons, nnf. 

Historic Demonology 41 

a heavy burden, — superstition." ^ The latter asserts 
that the meaning of " ghost, spirit, demon, angel," was 
originally the same.^ Neither statement merits un- 
reserved acceptance ; yet in a wide general sense 
appropriate to the cosmic standpoint of anthropology, 
the element of truth here present facilitates the pro- 
duction of ethnic parallels. 

Eabbinic demonology is not at all alone in its claim 
to direct verification. The seeing of spirits is often 
claimed by professional men among the Australians, 
Karens, Zulus, Greenlanders, Indians, and others too 
numerous to mention. Certain fastings and vigils, or 
similar performances, are among the commoner methods 
of glimpsing spirits ; but these processes are very tame 
compared with the Eabbinic recipe already described. 

Origin. — The creation of demons by Angro-Mainyu 
is the nearest approach to the alleged creation of 
demons by God. The Eabbinic idea of alliances, 
human and demonic, has numerous analogues. The 
Zend-Avesta speaks, perhaps pictorially, of the female 
Druj with her four earthly paramours. The Tantric 
ritual professes to provide a ghostly mistress for the 
infamous Vamacharis of India. The Cabalists of the 
Middle Ages thought it possible and desirable to marry 
their sylphs. The natives of Lapland, New Zealand, 
and the Samoan Islands, ascribe monstrous births to 
such lawless unions. Classical mythology is full of the 
comminglings of the divine and the earthborn ; thus 
corresponding to the tale of the love of the " sons of 

^ De Gigantibiis. " Sociology, i. p. 261. 

42 Dcvionic Possession in the Neio Testament 

God " for the daughters of men.^ The transformation 
of human being-s into demonic animals receives ex- 
\^' tensive credit among the races of the lower culture. 

^^ The legend of the were-wolf, with its local variants, is 

world-wide. In Arabia, certain tribes of the Hadra- 
maut are believed to be thus transfigured in times of 
drought. In Abyssinia, blacksmiths and potters are 
supposed to become hyenas. In India, wizards may 
change into tigers ; one such being caught and deprived 
of his fangs to render him harmless. In almost 
all lands, the idea that demons may be the souls 
of the wicked dead, finds acceptance. The orthodox 
Chinaman of to-day is entirely at one with Josephus 
in his definition of a demon. In India, suicide is a 
recognised mode of becoming an evil spirit, in pursuit 
of ghostly vengeance. Drowning has the preference 
to poisoning. The unfortunate, tlie destitute, the 
victims of repulsive diseases, or of violent death ; 
likewise the unburied, are popularly suspected of drift- 
ing into the ranks of evil spirits. It is not surpris- 
ing, therefore, to find that a British officer mortally 
wounded at Travancore, and a notorious criminal 
hanged at Trichinopoly, equally arrived at the dignity 
of demonic state. 

^ The legend of the Bene-Eloliini, in the Book of Enoch and the 
Book of the Secrets of Euocli, connects itself with Mount Hermon. 
That locality seems to have been the first point of contact between the 
Hivite aborigines of Kadesh (daughters of men ?) and the tall, hand- 
some, blue -eyed, light -haired, and pale -skinned Amorites (Bene- 
Elohim ?). For the home of the formei-, see Josh. xi. 3 ; Judg. iii. 3 ; 
2 Sam. xxiv. 7. The affinities of the latter are with the Cro-Magnon 
race of France. 

Historic Demonology 43 

Numbers. — Having regard to the manner in whicli 
ethnic spirits originate, it is clear that their numbers 
are constantly on the increase. The Arabs so thickly 
people the desert with their Jinn that they apologise 
to them, on throwing anything away ; lest they should 
hit some of them. So when pouring water on the 
ground, or entering a bath, or letting a bucket down 
into a well, or entering the place of uncleanness, a 
well-bred son of the desert will say. Permission, ye 
blessed ! The modern Parsee knows that round the 
dakhmas where the dead are exposed to vultures, 
demons, male and female, hover in fifties, hundreds, 
thousands, and myriads. The Puegians seem to be 
constantly exhaling the demons of the air. The 
heretical Messalians religiously spat them out. So 
the Jewish allocation of one thousand to the left 
hand, and a myriad to the right, is not prodigiously 

Forms. — Demons may be anthropomorphic ; but 
may change their shape as need or whim directs. The 
Vedic Yatus and the Greek Empous?e are typical in 
this respect ; as also the Arabian Jinn. The spirits 
of Milton answer the ethnic ideal — 

As they please, 
They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size 
Assume, as likes them best, condense or rare. 

The grotesque form of the Eabbinic demons with 
their cock's feet, finds its nearest homologue in the 
genii of the house of Allat in the under-world. The 

44 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Chaldsean genius of the South-West Wind bears off the 
palm for monstrosity ; with its shrivelled face, its 
goat's horns, its scorpion's tail, its four wings, and its 
arms ending in talons. The Druj Nasu of the Zend- 
Avesta, which rushes from the regions of the North 
(hell) to take possession of the corpse in the name of 
Angro-Mainyu, when expelled from the body of the 
dead, assumes the form of a raging fly, " with knees 
and tail sticking out, all stained with stains." The 
Arabs know of demons disguised as dogs, cats, jackals, 
lions, scorpions, wolves, or having human or promis- 
cuous shape. Of these some possess the power of 
flight ; all apparently have the capacity of appearing 
or disappearing at will. The ghul is practically the 
counterpart of Lilith ; a creature of night and dark- 
ness ; wandering abroad to decoy and devour her lone 
human victims. The Paris of the Zend-Avesta are 
analogous to the Liliu ; and Azi-Dahaka corresponds 
in some ways to the many-headed monster which in- 
vaded the school of Abaji ; " being three-headed, six- 
eyed, with a thousand powers, and mighty strength, 
a male demon of the Dtevas, made by Angro-Mainyu, 
a most mighty Druj (Yasna ix. 8)." 

Haunts. — Where the Jews contemplated the resting 
of demons on articles of food and drink, they find 
sympathisers in the Bulgarians who fumigate their 
flour fresh from the mill, and in the Greenlanders 
who dread the spirit of strange waters. The Arabs 
believe in Jinn haunting " baths, wells, latrines, ovens, 
ruined houses, market-places, the junctions of roads, 

Historic Dcmonology 45 

the sea, and rivers " ; also burial-grounds, sequestered 
spots, and human habitations. Eabbinic doctrine 
hints at an elemental origin for many of its spirits, 
by assigning them trees and fountains for their abodes. 
In this respect they are akin to other peoples ; such 
as the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Indians, and many 
tribes of the Dark Continent. The genii of the 
Babylonians swarmed everywhere ; creeping under the 
door, filling every nook and corner, from floor to 
roof-tree ; hiding in lonely places ; lurking behind 
walls and hedges ; or roosting among trees. The 
association of demons with the places of impurity or 
of interment, is characteristic of a certain stage of 
culture. Where Jews and Babylonians believed in 
the howling of the Shedim of the wilderness, the 
modern Arab, Hindoo, and Chinaman hear the voices 
of evil demons in the weird sounds of the night. 
Even the Finnlander still listens for the call of spirits 
in his native forests. 

Times of activity. — Special demons have their special 
times for business ; but the degree of their organisa- 
tion is often a matter of pious imagination. The 
Chaldteans believed in organised bands of them acting 
at set intervals ; and the Parsees have a similar notion. 
Superstitious peoples so multiply their numbers that 
no part of the day or of the night is void of their 
visitations. The surprises and ambushes of evil 
demons are thus constantly to be feared ; and count- 
less expedients are devised in the form of charms, 
incantations, and such things, to fray them away. 

46 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Night is everywhere regarded as the appropriate 
season of demonic revelries. The neglected double 
of the ancient Egyptian went forth under cover of 
the darkness to prowl among the living, to terrify 
them by sudden apparitions, or to smite them with 
headache and madness. It were needless to multiply 
instances in proof of the popular belief that night 
is most congenial to the powers of evil. Equally 
common is the idea that the dawn scares them away. 
The Jew could appreciate the sentiment of the Zend- 
Avesta : The cock is the drum of the world, that crows 
in the dawn which dazzles away the fiends. That 
thought recurs in our Border Ballads. 

Powers. — These have been partly noticed ; but the 
following examples may be added. Demons have 
always been credited with foreknowledge, and there- 
fore oracles have usually been sought from them. 
Their evil disposition has earned for them the repu- 
tation of causing accidents and diseases. Tlie ancient 
Egyptians divided the body into thirty-six regions, 
with an equal number of demons associated with 
them. The traces of demonic action were sought in 
the several organs. The Babylonians believed that 
the inhalation or swallowing of stray demons was the 
cause of disease. The Parsee knows that Angro- 
Mainyu has one hundred thousand diseases, less one, 
wherewith to vex mankind {Zend-Avesta, Farg. xxiir. 
iii. 15). The Burman refers his fever to the demon 
of the jungle ; the Arab, his insanity or epilepsy, to 
the Jinn ; the New Zealander, his headache, to Tonga. 

Historic Bcmonology 47 

Evil dreams and nightmares are by general consent of 
the savage or his more cultured congener, accounted 
the work of hateful demons. The Neo - Platonic 
philosophy referred ritual excesses or mistakes to 
demonic influences. 

Restrictions. — Life would be a burden, were not 
limits set to the action of demons. But uncultured 
man is fertile in his inventions against these foes. 
The semi-sensuous constitution of those creatures is 
\ in itself a restraining power. The Egyptian double, 
in default of better diet, might be forced to take to 
stable refuse ; and the Babylonian demon might some- 
times be driven to contend with dogs over offal. 
The Zoroastrian demons " take food and void filth." 
The Chinese spirits stand in need of the good things 
of their former existence ; and are therefore supplied 
with mock -houses, mock -clothes, mock -money, and 
other mock-comforts. The huntsman of the Brazilian 
forests knows of some that are lame ; and the China- 
man knows of others that are lame, and blind, and 
headless. The idea of a " second death " ranges among 
peoples whose intellectual limits are represented, on 
the one hand by the Fiji Islanders ; and on the other, 
by the Neo-Blatonists.'^ Plutarch relates what he 
believed to be an authentic instance of the death of 
a demon. He recounts with poetic emotion the 
" passing " of Pan, as announced by a voice and con- 
firmed by lamentations, in the hearing of the voyagers, 

^ Plutarch gives a peculiar interpretation to the "second death," 
in his essay on "The Face in the Moon " (xvii, xxviii.). 

48 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

abreast of Palodes. The mortality of this order of 
beings was also a tenet of the Stoics. 

Management. — Where earthly relatives have ne- 
glected the soul of the departed, demonic annoyances 
may be expected by way of asserting spiritual rights. 
The remedy is the immediate satisfaction of out- 
standing claims. Modes of keeping evil spirits in 
their proper place are simply legion. Among these, 
fire holds a conspicuous place. The Babylonians put 
their trust in Gibil (Gihir), the lord of fire. The 
peoples of Africa, Australia, India, among many others, 
are vigorous upholders of the ancient rite. Lamps, 
lanterns, torches, and fires, have always been much in 
demand for such purposes. The exact significance to 
be attached to the lighting of consecrated candles, in 
the Eoman Church, is that " in whatever places these 
candles are lit or placed, the powers of darkness may 
depart in trembling and flee away in terror." Ablu- 
tions, odd articles of dress, or curious amulets, have 
always had their advocates for the subjection of 
demons. Incantations and cryptic formula3 are 
universal among exorcists ; the more meaningless, 
apparently the better. A most valiant sentence is 
that thundered against the Druj Nasu, when exorcised 
from the corpse. This withering denunciation is de- 
scribed as " fiend-smiting," and " most healing " — 

Perish, fiendish Druj ! Perish, brood of the fiend ! 

Perish, O world of the fiend ! Perish away, Druj ! 

Rush away, Druj ! Perish away, O Druj ! 

Perish away to the regions of the North ! 

Never more to give to death, the living world of the Holy Spirit ! 

Historic Demonology 49 

The efficacy of this menace is enhanced by the use 
of Sagdid, — the look of the four-eyed dog. The Druj 
is supposed to become weaker at every word, and 
finally to flee away in confusion. In Southern India 
more especially, devil-dances and bloody sacrifices are 
often employed to pacify offended demons. The 
British officer of Travancore, already alluded to, was 
worshipped as a local demon ; receiving offerings of 
cigars and brandy, which the thrifty devotees them- 
selves consumed thereafter. Prayer is an obvious 
mode of combating the powers of evil. The Zend- 
Avesta comes near to Scripture, when it represents 
Zoroaster as warding off demons by chanting. The will 
of the Lord is the Law of Holiness. This prophet 
also fends them off by prayer and the keeping of the 
Law. The Eabbis do not seem to have contemplated 
such arduous methods of disposing of evil spirits, 
as clubbing, shooting, stabbing, or exporting them ; 
though these practices are still honoured in many 
parts of the world. Ethnic methods of ejecting 
possessing demons receive separate consideration. 

Redeeming features. — Like a few of the Jewish 
Shedim, some ethnic spirits are genial and helpful. 
The Zulus, the Chinese, the Jains of India, and many 
others, look to the shades of their ancestors for help 
and direction. They are thus like the good demons 
of Hesiod in the Golden Age. Some of the Jewish 
Shedim were learned in the Law ; but they have no 
monopoly of such excellence. Some of the Arabic 
Jinn are converts to Islam ; having heard the prophet 

50 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

read the Koran. Hence they confess, " Verily we 
have heard an excellent discourse which directeth 
unto the right institution ; wherefore we believe 
therein and will by no means associate any other with 
our Lord. We formerly attempted to pry into the 
transactions of heaven ; but we found the same filled 
with a strong guard of angels and with flaming darts ; 
and we sat on some of the thrones thereof to listen to 
the discourses of its inhabitants ; but whoso listeneth 
now, findeth a flame laid in ambush for him, to guard 
the celestial confines. There are some among us that 
are upright, and there are some among us otherwise. 
Some of us are Moslems, and others of us swerve from 
righteousness." ^ Demons, in China more particularly, 
are resorted to for the cure of disease ; sometimes 
promising their aid, of their own accord, through their 
human mediums. 


A comparison of the Rabbinic and ethnic demon- 
ologies reveals certain interesting results — 

1. The preceding ethnic parallels possess a char- 
acter which is really universal, both as regards time 
and place. 

2. Between the two systems of doctrine there is 
substantial harmony ; their salient features being in 
essential agreement. 

3. Any slight divergences remaining are traceable 

^ Koran, Sura Ixxii. 

Historic Demonology 51 

to local differences of environment. The seed is one ; 
the soil and climate slightly diverse. 

Ethnic demonology may be said to be practically 
timeless. It represents a phase of culture rather 
than a definite era ; just as the Stone Age of the 
archaeologist represents a stage of civilisation rather 
than a specific period. Eabbinic demonology bears 
a similar stamp. It was no new creation in the 
time of our Lord. It drew from out the deep of 
primitive ages. When the people were carried into 
captivity, their mind was no mere tabula rasa 
awaiting the impress of Babylonian and Persian 

They had their magic waters, oracular trees, divining 
rods, consultations of the Teraphim, interviews with 
the ghosts of the departed, and possessing spirits. In 
common with other peoples, the fathers of the Hebrew 
race had sought to press behind " the shows of the 
world," and to find in the activities of spirits their 
machinery of causation. 

The Eabbinic doctrine of demons, as a whole, was 
undoubtedly prevalent in the time of Christ. Most 
of the preceding quotations from Eabbinic literature 

^ To trace tlie whole or the greater part of Jewish demonology to the 
influences of the Exile, is a proceeding which greatly fails to commend 
itself to the student of anthropology. Certain consequences are per- 
ceptible as flowing from contact with the jieoples of the East ; but it 
will require much stronger evidence than any now available to prove 
extensive importations of Shedim. Lenormant, Sayce, and Gaster 
seem to attach undue importance to Babylonian factors ; while Kohut 
and Schorr, who are strongly discrepant inter se, appear to overestimate 
the Zoroastrian influence. See also Cheyne, Origin of the Psalter, 
p. 391 ff-. 

52 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

are taken from the Mishua, which, according to 
Schllrer, was " collected and edited towards the end of 
the second century after Christ." But " the final re- 
daction had been preceded by two earlier summaries 
of written documents." ^ The teaching of the Mishna 
was therefore in circulation in the time of our Lord. 

Independent proof of this is found in the narratives 
of the Book of Tobit and the Antiquities of Josephus. 
In point of date, the former approximates to the Book 
of Daniel ; while the latter is almost in contact with 
Christ. The theory and practice underlying the 
demonology of these writings is identical with that 
embedded in Eabbinic literature. Their common pre- 
supposition is the popular animistic (poly-demonistic) 
philosophy which repeatedly emerges in the pages of 
\} the New Testament. What luas the attitude of Jesus 
to the foregoing siqjerstitions ? 

One tradition describes demons as purely spiritual 
beings ; attributing their condition to delay or mis- 
take on the part of the Creator. That belief was an 
audacious assault upon the power and wisdom of God. 
Christ could have had no sympathy with such a state- 
ment. But this opinion was essentially heterodox 
even among superstitious Jews ; because it was incon- 
sistent with the magical practices of the times ; and 

^ The Jewish People, i. i. p. 129. Occasional reference lias been 
made to writings which are somewhat late of publication ; such as 
Bereshith Rabba, Pesiqta, Pirqe de R. Eliezer, Tanchuiiia, and Yalkut 
Shimeoni. These are, however, relevant to the issue on hand ; because 
they go back to older traditional or written material, and are entirely 
homogeneous with the earlier writings. 

Historic Demonology 53 

at variance with the fundamental tenet of Eabbinic 
demonology which assumed the semi-sensuous nature 
of the Shedim. As " half-spirits," they possessed a 
psycho-sarcous constitution which involved them in 
physical needs and functions. But in two passages, 
Christ gave what is practically a definition of " spirit," 
whicli is wholly opposed to the Eabbinic conception — ; 

God is spirit. John iv. 24. 

A spirit liatli not flesli and bones. Luke xxiv. 39. \ 

According to Christ, then, the non-material, the 
incorporeal, is the specific attribute of " spirit." That 
in itself disposes of the greater portion of Eabbinic 

Origin. — Primitive man draws a fluctuating line 
between animals, men, and superhuman beings, in 
accordance with the principles of his animistic creed. 
But Jesus recognised that in all worlds and amid all 
the changes of the future, the distinctive rank of man 
among intelligent beings must be maintained with- 
out faltering. Comminglings of the human and the 
demonic, or transmutation of the human into the 
demonic, must have been incredible to Him. That is 
the condemnation of the legends of Adam and Eve 
with reference to demons, and the derivation of 
demons from the profane. The evolution of a demon 
from a hyena was unthinkable to Christ, Who had a 
clear insight into natural processes. The loose wan- 
derings of the souls of the wicked dead as Shedim are 
opposed to His doctrine of moral retribution. 

54 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Numlcrs. — The idea that demons hustle the 
Eabbis, wear out their dresses by friction, or bruise 
their shins by impact, implies their semi-sensuous 
nature, which Jesus did not credit. The assertion 
that demons swarm everywhere, to the incessant 
danger of man, is not in harmony with our Lord's 
teaching on divine providence. It is likewise opposed 
to His action on many occasions. 

Forms. — Forms of spirits, animal, human, or mon- 
strous ; appendages such as cock's toes, wings, multiple 
heads ; eating, drinking, propagation, death by mis- 
adventure or constitutional defect ; all presuppose the 
error of the semi-sensuous nature of demons, and are 
therewith set aside. 

Haunts. — The Eabbis crammed the earth with evil 
spirits, and thrust them even into heaven. But while 
Jesus allowed a restricted place to the demons on 
earth. He assigned them no place in heaven. He 
commanded His disciples to gather up the fragments ; 
thus discouraging the idea that demons lurk on 
crumbs. He had no faith in the ceremonial washing 
of hands ; so repelling the notion that spirits may 
rest on unwashen hands. He asked a draught of 
water from the woman of Samaria and thereafter 
entered the city ; proving that He had no fear of 
drinking borrowed water and no belief in local 
Shedim. He retu^ed repeatedly to desert places and 
fasted in the wilderness ; therein rejecting the popular 
conception that the waste is the special haunt of evil 
spirits. The hiding of these beings among trees, 

Historic Demonology 55 

shadows, and foul places, postulates their psycho- 
sarcous constitution which stands rejected with its 
correlates. The association of demons with animals 
is in conflict with Christ's assertion of God's special 
care over them. 

Times of activity. — In opposition to current ideas, 
Jesus did not regard one hour of the day as more 
dangerous than another. The only risk of travelling 
by night is that of stumbling in the dark (John xi. 
9, 10). That discounts the division of the day into 
four parts for the four classes of demons.^ Christ 
refused to think of sexual distinctions as existing 
among spiritual beings (Luke xx. 36). That reduces 
Ashmedai and Lilith, with their attendant hosts, to 
non-existence. With the disappearance of the queen 
of female demons, vanish the perils of the eves of 
Wednesday and the Sabbath ; as well as dangers to 
children, solitary travellers, lone sleepers, and others. 
To abet an evil spirit by wishing a demon a mistaken 
God-speed, is a puerility whose presupposition is the 
seeing of a Shed in human form. 

Poivers. — Dangers supposed to threaten sick women, 
brides, bridegrooms, and others ; also gastric troubles 
ascribed to the ingestion of demons, rest upon the 
mistaken assumption of the psycho-sarcous constitu- 

^ The warning of Peter and the crowing of the cock have been 
foolislily connected with demonic activity. Satau is not a demon. 
The temptation is not demonic, bnt Satanic ; the issue not pliysical, 
but ethical. The common idea was that the power of the night- 
demons ceased at cock-crow ; wliereas that was the beginning of fresh 
peril for Peter. 


56 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

tion of the Shedim. To ascribe the causation of 
accident or disease to those beings, contradicts Christ's 
doctrine of the sovereignty of God. As a matter of 
fact, He did not trace accidents (Luke xiii. 4), nor 
special diseases such as leprosy, blindness, or cardiac 
disease,^ to the foregoing agents. The conduct of the 
possessed was never attributed by Him to possessing 

Bestrietions. — The Eabbis were free to imagine the 
semi-sensuous nature of the Shedim as a partial 
restraint upon their mischievous doiugs. But such 
limitations become inconceivable with the rejection of 
the underlying error. Eestrictions of demonic energy 
by measures, seals, fastenings, and similar devices, could- 
find no favour with Him, Who steadfastly abjured the 
employment of all charms and counter-charms. 

Management. — Many of the Eabbinic methods for 
controlling demons were operative only on the 
assumption of their being " half-spirits." Belief in 
their pneumatic mode of existence reduced such 
methods to sheer absurdities. To that category 
belong attempts to wash off demons from the hands 
with water, or to frighten Shabriri with a rattle. 
Other methods amounted to a chronic confusion of 
the physical and the ethical. The clear distinction 
drawn by Jesus between those two sets of phenomena, 
(Matt. XV. 16-20), disclosed the irrational character of 
the Eabbinic procedure. To this class belong the use 

^ The dropsical iiuin in Luke xiv. 2 may have suffered from cardiac 

Historic Demonology 57 

of the covenant salt, the practice of ch'cumcision, and 
the observance of certam festivals. Other common 
methods involved the use of incantations, Scriptural 
or non- Scriptural. But Christ neither used, nor 
permitted the use of, magic formulie. These were 
essentially " vain repetitions." The ethnic manage- 
ment of demons as a whole was an outstanding 
contradiction of His view of God and the world. 

Redeeming features. — While Eabbinic demonology 
might contemplate good and evil demons, such beings 
were for Jesus all evil, always evil, and incurably 
evil. To attribute to spirits the gifts of divination, 
the healing of disease, the teaching of the Law, or 
the service of the saints, must have appeared to 
Christ pure fabrications. 


Among the Jews in the time of our Lord, the 
magic arts were widely diffused. Abraham is made 
to figure as an expert ; imparting gifts to the sons of 
his concubines. These are " gifts of impurity " (Sanh. 
91&), which Eashi explains as "exorcism and the 
works of the Shedim." Solomon is assigned high 
rank in this department, as one taught of God (Jos. 
Ant. VIII. ii. 5). Hezekiah was another patron of 
the occult sciences ; having had a " Book of Eemedies " 
(Pes. 56«). But magic was practised under both its 
forms — " white " and " black." 

A new religious movement among polytheists may 

58 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

result iu the reduction of the gods to demonic rank, 
with their retention as objects of veneration or dread. 
The old magic ritual may continue sliglitly modified, 
according as the degraded gods are demons, good or 
evil. In the former case, they are virtually dii 
minores. Among them, the magician moves as among 
the excellent of the earth and heaven ; their goodwill 
being a guarantee of his safety, and their power a 
pledge of his success. He is a theurgist whose art 
is properly called " white magic." Where the operator 
deems that he has to do with irate demons, he com- 
mands their services by force and against their will ; 
believing himself safe in his pseudo-scientific panoply. 
He is a sorcerer whose art is properly called " black 
magic." ^ 

Among theurgists might be counted E. Chaninah 
and E. Oshayah, who created a calf equal in size to 
a three-year-old, every Friday; and ate it (Sanh. Goa). 
The creation of such a fine calf, and its consumption 
by its creators, are, doubtless, complementary opera- 
tions ; but history does not show how far those 
Eabbis fattened on their spectral diet. Others of 
this gifted fraternity could create vegetable marrows, 
melons, deer, bucks, and does (Jer. Sanh. vii. 25d). 
Eabbi Simeon could likewise say to a valley. Be 
filled with gold dinars ; and it was so (Jer, Ber. 
13d). Sorcery was much more in evidence. Women 
were deeply suspected of being adepts in it (Pes. 
lllh; Ber. 53a; Erub. 64&; Jer. Sanh. vii. 9). The 

' Cf. Leuormant, Chuldocan Magic, cliap. v. 

Historic Demonology 59 

daughters of the Eabbis dabbled in it (Gittin 48a). 
Members of the Sanhedrim were obliged to possess a 
knowledge of it ; so as to be able to act as judges in such 
cases (Sanh. 1 7«). The claims of rampant sorcery 
are well set forth in the story that E. Yannai was 
once presented in an inn with a magic potion by a 
woman. Being suspicious, he poured out some of the 
draught, which turned to scorpions. He then said to 
the woman, I have drunk of thine, now thou shalt 
drink of mine. So the woman drank and became an 
ass, on which the gallant Eabbi rode to market. But 
the ass was restored to womanhood by a friend who 
broke the spell (Sanh. 675). Again, by intense study 
of the " Book of Creation," Eabba succeeded in creat- 
ing a man whom he sent to E. Zira. But this recent 
creation was not endowed with the gift of speech ; 
and E. Zira said to the new man, Thou art a fabrica- 
tion (of the necromancers). Eeturn to thine original 
dust ! At once the dumb figure returned to nothing 
(Sanh. 65&). 

Wholly remote from these magical practices are the "^ 
miracles of our Lord. Their fine humanitarian tone 
alone thoroughly differentiates them from the vulgar 
glorification of the theurgist or the hateful spite of the 
sorcerer. " He went about continually doing good." 

CAUSE OF Christ's freedom from superstition 

One large section of Jewish demonology was incon- 
sistent with a pure monotheistic faith and morality. 

60 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

The malignity, caprice, and independence allowed to 
demons were compatible only with a polytheistic 
creed ; and intensely alien to Israel's prolonged ex- 
perience of Jehovah's goodness, righteousness, and 
power. A rigid application of the monotheistic prin- 
ciple would have abolished those crooked supersti- 
tions which impinged upon the majesty of God and 
the moral freedom of man. The fuller illumination 
possessed by Jesus rendered these irrational beliefs 
unthinkable for Him. 

Another large section of Jewish demonology was 
inconsistent with a true knowledge of Nature. The 
error here could only be removed by clear insight 
into natural processes. That has been wrongly denied 
to Jesus. He evinced a deep insight into the pro- 
cesses of health and disease on many occasions ; as 
when He asked the Gerasene for his name, or 
appointed rest and diet for the daughter of Jairus, 
or made a physical examination of the ears and 
tongue of the stammerer. On these and other op- 
portunities, He showed that He was not working 
in the dark. Hence His superiority to ordinary 
superstitions, which in others were the product of 
sheer ignorance of Nature. 


Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 

data of the pkesent inquiry 

rriHESE are primarily the narratives of the New 
-*- Testament. But the descriptions often savour 
of the terminology of the animistic philosophy.^ To 
the latter, demons and spirits are natural enough ; 
but to modern psychological medicine, these are un- 
known as causes of disease. They involve a theory 
which is alien to the principles of scientific pathology. 
Investigation would thus be blocked at the outset, 
had not the Synoptists also furnished us with an 
account of the symptoms manifested by the possessed. 
These phenomena constitute the fundamental facts for 
the elucidation of the real nature of the derangement 
called " possession." In the case of the demoniacs of 
Capernaum and Gerasa, with that of the boy at the 
Hill of Transfiguration, these symptoms have been 
recorded in profusion. There are also duplicate or 
triplicate narratives of these three cases, which may 
be called " typical." The details are not identical ; 
but they are never divergent. Their wealth of 

^ Appendix B, Nomenclature of the New Testament. 

62 Demonic Possession in the Neiu Testament 

clinical material furnishes the clue to the right 
understanding of the physical basis of the " demoniac 
state." By the help of these three typical cases, we 
are able to explore the more obscure. The ailments 
of the Syro-Phoenician girl, the dumb demoniac, the 
blind and dumb demoniac, Mary of Magdala, and the 
infirm woman, are thus cleared up. The investigation 
of these proceeds with a great degree of confidence ; 
for in the earlier analysis, the " demoniac state " has 
attained to the precision of a scientific conception. 
The uses of a correct diagnosis are many, some of 
which may be indicated here — 

1. The exhibition of the physical basis of possession. 

2. The testing of the value of " psychological 


3. The demonstration of the historicity of the 

Gospel narratives. 

4. The discovery of the proper criterion of genuine 

demonic possession. 


In the Authorised Version, we read that Christ 
healed " those which were possessed with devils, and 
those which were lunatic, and those that had the 
palsy" (Matt. iv. 24). The term lunatic (creXrjvia^o- 
fievoL) is a misnomer. Bruce alleges here " a certain 
want of strictness in the use of terms." ^ But 
Matthew's language is most exact. The o-eXrjvia^o- 
^ Miraculous Elements in the Gospels, p. 176. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 6 3 

^evoi are the cjnlcjytic. The evidence on this point is 
unimpeachable. AretaBUS, in his treatise on Chronic 
Diseases, remarks that epilepsy is regarded as a dis- 
graceful disease ; for it is supposed to be inflicted on 
persons who have sinned against the moon} Galen, 
another physician, in his work on Critical Days, 
says that the moon governs the periods of epileptic 
seizures. Lucian, in his Fhilojjseudcs, describes cer- 
tain persons as falling to the ground by moonlight, 
rolling their eyes about, and foaming at the mouth. 
Alexander Trallianus, in his medical disquisitions, 
alludes to a cure which l^e had learned from a 
countryman in Etruria. The latter w^as cutting rue, 
when his companion, being epileptic {aekrjviaKO'i), fell 
down. The aeXrivial^o^evoL of Matthew are therefore 
most clearly the epileptic, and are here distinguished 
from the possessed. A'part from this notice, there is 
no reference to this class of sufferers in the Neiu Testa- 
ment. Weiss is wrong in supposing that the boy at 
the Hill of Transfiguration was simply epileptic. It 
will be shown that he suffered from epileptic idiocy.- 

^ Hobart is mistaken in asserting that Aretseus admits tlie " possi- 
l)ility of this disease being produced by diabolical agency." Aretteus 
states that epilepsy "is reckoned a disgraceful form of disease ; for it 
is supposed to be an infliction on persons Avho have sinned against the 
moon, and hence some have called it the Sacred Disease ; and that 
for more reasons than one ; as from the greatness of the evil, for the 
Greek word iepos also signifies ' great ' ; or because the cure of it is 
not human but divine ; or from the ojiinion that it proceeded from 
the entrance of a demon into a man. From some one or all of these 
causes together, it has been called ' Sacred ' " (Chronic Diseases, 
Bk. I. iv.). 

- The popular idea that there is some connection between the moon 

64 Demonic Possession in the Nciv Testament 


And they go into Capernanm; and straightway on 
the Sabbath day, he entered into the synagogue and 
taught. And they were astonished at his teaching ; 
for he taught them as having authority, and not as the 
scribes. And straightway there was in the synagogue 
a man in an unclean spirit ; and he cried out, saying. 
What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth ? 
art thou come to destroy us ? I know thee who thou 
art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, 
saying, Hold thy peace and come out of him. And the 
unclean spirit, tearing him and crying with a loud 
voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, 
insomuch that they questioned among themselves, 
saying. What is this ? a new teaching ! With authority 
he commandeth even the unclean spirits, and they obey 
him. And the report of him went out straightway 
everywhere into all the region of Galilee round about. 
Mark i. 21-28. 

And he came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. 
And he was teaching them on the Sabbath day ; and 
they were astonished at his teaching; for his word 
was with authority. And in the synagogue there was 
a man, who had a spirit of an unclean demon ; and he 
cried out with a loud voice. Ah ! what have we to do 
w^ith thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth ? art thou come to 
destroy us ? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One 
of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy 
peace and come out of him. And when the demon liad 
thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him ; 
having done him no hurt. And amazement came upon 
all, and they spake together, one with another, saying, 

and epilepsy is partly due to the coufusiou of epilepsy witli ejJLleptic 
insanity. The bright moonlight of the Orient has a curious stimu- 
lating effect on such creatures as crows and dogs ; making them rest- 
less and noisy. It has an exciting effect on those afflicted with 
epileptic insanity also. In both cases, darkness acts as a sedative. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 6 5 

What is this word ? for with authority and power he 
commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out. 
And there went forth a rumour concerning him into 
every place of the region round about. Luke iv. 31-37. 

The cure of this man was the beginning of miracles 
in this department of Christ's activity. It naturally 
led to a great stir in Capernaum and the regions 
adjacent to or depending on this flourishing com- 
mercial community. Mark's account is highly graphic, 
and bringrs us into close contact with the original 
eye-witness ; while the little artistic touches of Luke 
may contain a tincturing of medical lore. But even 
with the aid of both Evangelists, it does not seem 
easy to expiscate a diagnosis from the meagre details 
thus provided. Keim boldly asserts that " the inci- 
dent bears all the marks of invention." Holtzmann 
sees here " the glorification of miracle " ! One bound 
by authority would hesitate to go further. But there 
is a luminous background to the story, imperceptible 
to those writers, providing an abiding refutation to 
this overweening dogmatism. The two narratives, by 
their suggestive hints, lead to one sure conclusion. 

The word " straightway " (€vdv<;) is an invaluable 
contribution to this investigation. It is furnished by 
Mark aloue (i. 21). The Authorised Version weakly 
omits it ; obviously owing to the fact that its retention 
seemed very superfluous to scribes and commentators. 
The Eevised Version rightly restores it ; but most 
exegetes are inclined to treat it with neglect. Mark, 
however, uses it with a purpose. It embodies an 

66 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

important fact. The demoniac was an intruder from 
without. His appearance in the synagogue took the 
worshippers completely by surprise. The services of 
the day were well advanced ; and Jesus had been 
addressing the people so long and so impressively 
that they had passed into a state of extraordinary 
enthusiasm. At the height of this excitement — 
" straightway " — without pause and without warning, 
within the building there was " a man in an unclean 
spirit." How he got there, remains unexplained. 
Possibly, he glided in noiselessly without attracting 
attention ; more probably he shot through the door 
with a bound before any one could arrest his career. 
Conjecture was needless. The startling fact now 
patent to all was that the man, with the unclean spirit, 
was in their midst. He was an outsider who by 
stealth or agility had thrust his most unwelcome 
presence upon the congregation. The surprise and 
horror caused by his sudden appearance w^ere intensi- 
fied by his loud cry, What have we to do with thee, 
Jesus of Nazareth ? Thou didst come to destroy us ! 
I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God ! 

These phenomena were manifest at the moment of 
entrance into the synagogue, and were plainly maniacal 
in character. There is here complete loss of self- 
control with intense emotional excitement, evinced in 
wild shrieks and boisterous conduct. The demoniac 
is quite out of touch with his surroundings, and wholly 
unable to appreciate his position. The rules for 
decorous conduct in the synagogue are stiU extant ; 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 67 

forbidding such things as talking, laughter, and 
frivolity. But this man was lost to all sense of 
propriety ; for he cried with a loud voice and inter- 
rupted the services of the hour. The bearing of this 
intruder towards Jesus is that of a man aggrieved 
and labouring under a sense of persecution. His 
demeanour is aggressive and menacing. He addresses 
Christ as an enemy bent upon his destruction. Yet 
in the same breath almost, he invokes Him as " the 
Holy One of God." The whole conduct of this 
demoniac proves that he is labouring under a maniacal 
attack of an acute and dangerous kind. 

That does not however complete the diagnosis ; 
for epileptic symptoms conclude the cycle of events. 
These are described in the words of the two 

The unclean spirit, having convulsed him, and 
having cried with a loud voice, came out of him. 
Mark i. 26. 

The demon, having dashed him into the midst, 
came out of him, having done him no harm. 
Luke iv. 35. 

Kestricting attention to the physical symptoms here 
present, three things emerge — 

1. A loud cry. 

2. A falling down. 

3. A severe convulsion. 

But these are the specific features of an epileptic 
attack, and are to be placed alongside of those features 
which point to acute insanity. By correlating these 

68 BemGnic Possession in the Neio Testament 

two groups of symptoms with each other, the final 
diagnosis is reached without difficulty. The case is one 
of epileptic insanity. 

That conclusion is not only consonant with all the 
features here manifest ; but enables us to clear up 
certain other things previously obscure. Judging from 
the absence of paralysis, imbecility, or dementia, this 
man's disorder is in its less advanced stages, and of an 
intermittent character. Probably there had been 
hallucinations of the senses, more specially those of 
hearing ; so that this patient was likely to suffer from 
piercing noises, or warning and threatening voices. 
In such cases, delusions often arise spontaneously, 
causing the subject of them to believe that he is 
persecuted. Hence the frequent and powerful ten- 
dency to violence, either homicidal or suicidal ; mostly 
the former. In those earlier stages of this disorder, 
there is commonly a peculiar disposition to w\ander 
abroad aimlessly ; and religious monomania is not in- 
frequent. On the eve of an attack, the temper is 
liable to sudden change. There is restlessness with a 
readiness to react violently to any stimulus, moral or 
physical. That seems to have been precisely the con- 
dition of this demoniac prior to his invasion of the 
synagogue. Apparently he was wandering abroad, 
when overtaken by the maniacal impulse. That con- 
spired with his religious instincts to precipitate him 
unceremoniously into the synagogue. Consciousness 
was manifestly impaired at this moment ; so that he 
failed to realise his position, and assailed Jesus as a 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 69 

destroyer. But this blind fury, this eclipse of con- 
sciousness, this appearance of deliberation, are integral 
parts of the malady from which this demoniac suffered ; 
being essentially reflex, automatic, mechanical. 

Madmen of this sort are extremely prone to crimes 
of horror and bloodshed. Probably this man was 
known already in Capernaum as a dangerous character ; 
and his presence in the synagogue would therefore be 
the signal for a panic. His noisy demonstrations 
must have produced great consternation. Saved from 
a grave impending disaster, the former enthusiasm of 
the congregation returns, reinforced by a gratitude 
proportioned to the magnitude of the peril from which 
they had escaped. Hence the volley of interjections. 
What is this ? A new doctrine ! Fully authorised ! 
He rebukes even foul spirits ! And they obey him ! 


When he was come to the other side into the 
country of the Gadarenes, there met him two possessed 
with demons, coming forth out of the tombs, exceedingly 
fierce so that no man could pass by that way. And 
behold, they cried out, saying. What have we to do 
with thee, thou Son of God ? Art thou come hither to 
torment us before the time ? Now there was afar off 
from them a herd of many swine feeding. And the 
demons besought him saying, If thou cast us out, send 
us away into the herd of swine. And he said unto 
them, Go ! And they came out and went into the 
swine : and behold, the whole herd rushed down the 
steep into the sea, and perished in the waters. And 
they that fed them fled, and went away into the city. 

70 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

and told everything, and what was befallen to them 
that were demonised. And behold, the whole city came 
out to meet Jesus : and when they saw him, they 
besought him that he would depart from their borders. 
Matt. viii. 28-34. 

And they came to the other side of the sea, into the 
country of the Gerasenes. And when he was come out 
of the boat, straightway there met him out of the tombs 
a man in an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling in the 
tombs : and no man could any more bind him, no, not 
with a chain ; because that he had often been bound 
with fetters and chains, and the chains had been rent 
asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces : and 
no man had strength to tame him. And always, night 
and day, in the tombs and in the mountains, he was 
crying, and cutting himself with stones. And when he 
saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped him; and 
crying with a loud voice, he saith, What have I to do 
with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God ? I 
adjure thee by God, torment me not I For he said 
unto him. Come forth, thou unclean spirit, out of the 
man. And he asked him, What is thy name ? And 
he saith unto him. My name is Legion; for we are 
many. And he besought him much that he would not 
send them away out of the country. Now there was on 
the mountain side a great herd of swine feeding. And 
they besought him, saying. Send us into the swine that 
we may enter into them. And He gave them leave. 
And the unclean spirits came out and entered into the 
swine; and the herd rushed down the steep into the 
sea, in number about two thousand ; and they were 
choked in the sea. And they that fed them fled, and 
told it in the city and in the country. And they came 
to see what it was that had happened. And they come 
to Jesus, and beheld him that was possessed with 
demons, sitting, clothed, and in his right mind, even 
him that had the legion : and they were afraid. And 
they that saw it declared unto them how it befell him 
that was possessed with demons, and concerning the 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 7 1 

swine. And they began to beseech him to depart from 
their borders. Mark v. 1-17. 

And they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, 
which is over against Gahlee. And when he was come 
forth upon the land, there met him a certain man out 
of the city, who had demons ; and for a long time he 
had worn no clothes, and abode not in any house, but 
in the tombs. And when he saw Jesus, he cried out, 
and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said. 
What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the 
Most High God ? I beseech thee, torment me not. 
For he commanded the unclean spirit to come out of 
the man. For often it had seized him : and he was kept 
under guard, and bound with chains and fetters ; 
and breaking the bands asunder he was driven of the 
demon into the deserts. And Jesus asked him, What 
is thy name ? And he said Legion ; for many demons 
were entered into him. And they entreated him that 
he would not command them to depart into the abyss. 
Now there was there a herd of many swine feeding on 
the mountain ; and they entreated him that he would 
give them leave to enter into them. And he gave 
them leave. And the demons came out of the man, 
and they entered into the swine ; and the herd rushed 
down the steep into the lake, and were choked. And 
when they that fed them saw what had come to pass, 
they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 
And they went out to see what had come to pass : and 
they came to Jesus, and found the man, from whom the 
demons were gone out, sitting, clothed, and in his right 
mind, at the feet of Jesus : and they were afraid. And 
they that saw it told them how he that was possessed 
with demons was made whole. And all the people of 
the country of the Gerasenes round about asked him 
to depart from them ; for they were holden with great 
fear ; and he entered into a boat and returned. Luke 
viii. 26-37. 

Matthew's account is meagre, and is chiefly remark- 

72 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

able for the mention of two demoniacs. This dis- 
crepancy receives further attention and does not 
affect any conclusion regarding the nature of the 
disorder present ; for the first Evangelist knows of no 
difference in the condition of the two men whom he 
mentions. From the medical standpoint, if not also 
from the historical, the two are one, Mark's narrative 
again takes us back to the eye-witness, while Luke's 
account adds nothing to the previous details ; except 
by way of inference. The three Evangelists represent 
a Triple Tradition ; but supply data which lead to one 
congruous result regarding the derangement under 

The order of events as set forth by Mark is signi- 
ficant. It shows that the company sailed for the 
eastern shore of the Lake about sunset. The Jews 
had two evenings ; the first beginning about the 
middle of the afternoon, the second at sunset. A 
comparison of Mark i. 32 (Matt. viii. 16), with Mark 
iv. 35 (oi/r/a?), shows that the second Evangelist fixed 
the time of departure at the close of the day. The 
destination was a point in the region of Gerasa to the 
south-east of the Lake. Hence they " sailed down " 
to the country of the Gerasenes (Luke viii. 26). 
Evidently there were tokens of a coming tempest ; so 
that without loss of time, they took Jesus " even as 
he was." The distance was not great ; but the strong 
head-wind baffled the skill and the strength of the 
voyagers, so that the landing on the other side could 
scarcely have occurred before the dawn of the follow- 

Medical Asjjects of Demonic Possession 7 3 

ing morning. Anyhow, there was sufficient light for 
the party to see the demoniac(s) emerging from the 
tombs (Matt. viii. 28); and for the latter to single 
out Jesus as the leader of the company (Mark v. 6 ; 
Luke viii. 28). The landing itself was effected with- 
out difficulty and may not have been seen by the 
possessed. Sound rather than sight seems to have 
first excited his attention. Certain things confirm 
this supposition. The man was apparently within 
the tombs at the moment of disembarkation. There 
was likewise " a great calm " at the time (Mark 
iv. 39). Presumably there was also an excessive 
sharpness of hearing on the part of the demoniac, as 
is common in such cases. Owing to the extraordinary 
irritability of his acute mania, he was painfully sus- 
ceptible to the slightest disturbances. The outward 
conditions concurred with the inward; and the result 
was the diversion of the attention of the possessed to 
the new-comers. The absence of all self-control is 
pathognomic of acute mania ; and this lunatic's un- 
governable fury manifested itself in charging down 
upon the enemy. The encounter took place close to 
the point where the party landed ; for the man " ran " ; 
and so met them " immediately." This violent haste 
was not the fruit of an amiable curiosity ; but the 
proof of malevolent intention. It was natural on the 
part of one who had long been the pest of the locality ; 
" exceeding fierce," so that none passed that way (Matt. 
viii. 28). Dangerous homicidal propensities were 
strikingly manifested as he rushed upon the party 

74 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

with menacing demeanour and furious yells, crying 
out, What have I to do with thee, Jesus ? Yet such 
wild maniacs, though fierce in form, are but weak in 
will and destitute of steady purpose. That peculiar 
instability finds illustration here, in the sudden change 
from the most defiant insolence to a crouching atti- 
tude. This madman, overawed by the dauntless bear- 
ing and the forceful words of Jesus, " fell down before 
him" (Luke viii. 28), and " worshipped him " (Mark 
V. 6). 

This rapid change of thought, feeling, and activity 
is highly characteristic of acute mania. There is a 
supersensitiveness to impressions derived from the 
organs of sense, tending to the instant reproduction 
of these in speech and action. This tumultuous 
activity is inevitable where normal self - control is 
lacking, and the power of self-suppression so greatly 
in abeyance. Under such circumstances, the passing 
fancy and impulse demand instant embodiment ; so 
that waywardness of speech and eccentricity of con- 
duct are pronounced features in the morbid process. 
Of that condition there is a notable example in the 
alternating use of the words " I " and " we," which 
Mark with wonted care has put on record, and which 
Luke implies. This is commonly cited as clear proof 
of a double consciousness and of a double personality, 
human and demonic. It has therefore been relied on 
to prove in the most positive manner, the presence of 
a demon within the demonised. But the inference is 
far from conclusive ; because this feature is not at all 

Medical Asjjcds of Demonic Possession 75 

exceptional. It is best explained on ordinary patho- 
logical principles as an example of that acceleration 
of mental processes which is common in certain phases 
of acute mania ; giving the semblance of a twofold 
consciousness, only because the colligating factors are 
hidden from our view. We have here apparently no 
more than a regular part of the current disorder. 

The amazing strength and the paradoxical endur- 
ance of this man also claim attention. The popular 
opinion is that maniacs are unusually strong. Even 
Herbert Spencer gravely endorses this fallacy, and 
finds here " a fact having noteworthy implications." ^ 
But the truth is that these manifestations of extra- 
ordinary strength among the insane are somewhat 
rare ; and, if present at all, are temporary phenomena, 
occurring mostly at the beginning of the disorder. 
The Evangelists are faithful to the facts of observation 
when they furnish data which prove that these ex- 
hibitions were occasional. There had been " many 
times," when this man's strength had been insufficient 
to save him from capture and durance vile. There 
were also those other periods marked by invincible 
wakefulness night and day, by ceaseless wanderings 
to and fro, by incessant roarings which made the 
hours of light and darkness equally hideous. Even 
in captivity his energies were not arrested. These 
were then concentrated on his fetters, which were 
probably nou - metallic ; so that they were soon 
" rubbed to pieces." When his lower limbs were 
1 Sociology, i. pp. 228, 233, 410. 

76 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

thus free, the rending of his bonds may have been 
a simple matter. The result was another spell of 
wild freedom and privation. But these exertions were 
mechanical rather than deliberate ; reflex rather than 
intentional. Their incentive is to be sought in the 
pathological diversion of his energies into one morbid 
channel ; rather than in any concentration of his will- 
power. Ill-informed critics who have hitherto found 
in these descriptions only a concatenation of pictorial 
details, have yet to learn that these painful perform- 
ances are the genuine parts of a severe case of acute 
mania, whose parallels are still unhappily common in 
our asylums. 

We can now understand how this demoniac, in 
reply to Jesus, calls himself Legion. Previous to his 
illness, he w^as, no doubt, familiar with the Jewish 
extravaganza which supplied the individual with a 
whole legion of demons ; prepared to assault him for 
a trifling misdemeanour. He must also have been 
familiar with the movements of Eoman troops. Six 
legions were stationed in Syria. Detachments of these 
were to be found in adjacent parts ; such as Megiddo, 
then called Ligyon (Legion), and the towns of Deca- 
polis. Serious disorders of sensation were associated 
with the mental derangement, producing the hallu- 
cination of portentous strength. Thus, a variety of 
circumstances, external and internal, concurred in the 
formation of this man's delusion. Under tlie fancy 
that he embodied the power and organisation of some 
six thousand demons, he felt himself more than a 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 77 

match for all invaders upon those domains which his 
ferocity had turned into a madman's paradise. 

Insane ideas are again in evidence when this man 
in his antipathy to human society fled from the 
habitations of his fellows and cast off all social re- 
straint. His dismal surroundings were in keeping 
with his dismal state of mind ; though there may 
have been no aggravation of his condition from this 
source.^ The pastures of the swine and the tombs of 
the dead were sought out as furnishing a convenient 
lair ; not on the ground of any sentimental associa- 
tions. He was liable to be hunted down like a wild 
beast, and experience had taught him that in those 
ghastly tombs he might find a secure retreat. There 
he would not be pestered by the attentions of his 
neighbours ; who, if Jews, would shun the haunts of 
the swine ; and whether Jews or Gentiles, would be 
chary of the sepulchres of the dead. Deliberate 
choice is not here to be thought of. Instinct rather 
than intelligence guided this demoniac to his strange 
quarters, where his brutish instincts would have full 

The shocking nakedness of the possessed is also in 

^ FaiTar, in liis Life of Christ, here draws attention to Sir Walter 
Scott's description of effects alleged to have been produced on the 
minds of the Covenanters by their cavern retirements. Historically, 
Sir Walter is in error. But the point to be noted is that no compari- 
son can be instituted between the demoniac who, under the stress of 
mental disease, sought the caves of the mountain, and the men who 
were driven by sore oppression to seek such shelter. The solitude and 
foulness were agreeable to the lunatic of Gerasa ; l)ut were odious to 
any in their right mind. 

78 Demonic Possession in the Neiu Testament 

place as a characteristic element of his formidable 
malady. Among those afflicted with acute mania, 
this is no uncommon thing ; traceable variously to 
uneasy cutaneous sensations or sheer destructiveness 
or unmitigated brutishness. This patient had been ill 
for " a long time " ; perhaps with intervals of improve- 
ment. Yet the nakedness seems to have been con- 
stant, and to have lasted through more than one 
season. In any case, it must have exposed this 
lunatic to severe experiences ; for in Palestine, the 
diurnal range of temperature is considerable at all 
seasons. It was therefore the lot of this man to 
endure the scorching heat by day and the chilly air 
by night, in his ceaseless peregrinations among the 
mountains and the tombs. Clothed only in sunlight 
or starlight, he had " for a long time " braved the 
elements ; yet apparently with no great detriment or 
discomfort. His behaviour in this respect is quite in 
harmony with that of his class, who have sometimes 
preferred to disrobe themselves on a cold winter's 
night in our more rigorous climate, without visible 
uneasiness. That is however but a proof of a diminu- 
tion of normal sensibility, which is so largely present 
in these cases. 

The same condition finds additional expression in 
self -mutilation. He " cut himself with stones " ; not 
as a solitary act ; but " night and day," as a constant 
practice. This is no penance, as Olshausen thought ; 
but a well-recognised symptom of acute mental de- 
rangement. Here it concurred with the great fury of 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 7 9 

liis delusion, and seems to have been the source of 
pleasure to him. Such delight in the pain of mutila- 
tion has received in Germany the technical designa- 
tion, — " freudenschmerz." A curious classical parallel 
to this is the case of the Spartan king, Cleomenes, 
the subject of acute mania. When under confinement, 
he got possession of a sword and began to cut off the 
flesh of his thighs, and otherwise mutilated himself, 
till he perished (Herodotus, vi. 75).^ 

The impairment of memory is another notable 
feature in this case. Insanity always involves a 
breach of greater or less extent in the continuity of 
the life of the patient. Memory suffers as severely 
as any other faculty. Sometimes its contents are 
sharply sundered ; so that the individual has a normal 
memory in his normal state, and a morbid memory 
when in his morbid mood. The facts of the normal 
life may thus be clearly separated from those of the 
morbid condition. This demoniac's memory was a 
blank for the former, so that he had forgotten what 
ought to have been nearest to him, — his own name. 
Yet for the facts relating to his previous attacks of 
insanity, his morbid memory was rather acute. Ac- 
cording to the rough-and-ready manner of the times, 
he had often been put under close confinement, in 
chains and fetters. These were sore torments to 
this lunatic, who could only regard his wardens as 

^ Certain opium-eaters in Bombay stimulate their deadened sensi- 
bilities by the sting of a scorpion ; deriving tlieiefrom a pleasant 

80 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

his tormentors. His old morbid associations still 
dominate his mind when he cries out in mingled 
tones of defiance and dread, What have I to do with 
thee ? Thou didst come to torment me before the 
time ! And truly, the tormentor always comes " be- 
fore the time." Labouring under this fancy, it was 
quite natural for this madman to " run " with homi- 
cidal fury upon the strangers ; prepared to fight with 
the will, if not with the strength, of a " legion." 

The diagnostic indications need not be further 
pursued, as the conclusion is eminently beyond dis- 
pute. The whole of the symptoms point to acute 
mania of a formidable, but not of an exceptional, 
type. In conventional language, this patient had 
been " driven by the demon into the wilderness," and 
his disorder had lasted " a long time." The case was 
one of great urgency; for the tremendous excitement, 
the prolonged insomnia, the incessant wanderings, the 
cruel mutilations ; coupled with the lack of proper 
food, clothing, and shelter, must have placed this 
demoniac in a most critical condition. Clearly this 
was his last chance. Death from sheer exhaustion 
must otherwise have put a speedy termination to his 
wretched existence. 

Finally, we have to note the absence of any con- 
vulsions at the ending of this case. Olshausen, Ewald, 
Lange, Trench, and others, have without warrant in- 
troduced them. The proceeding is not more arbitrary 
than unscientific. The demoniac of Capernaum suffers 
from epileptic insanity ; the demoniac of Gerasa from 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 8 1 

acute mania. Convulsions are in place in the former 
derangement ; but out of place in the latter. The 
Gospel narratives are thus completely in harmony 
with clinical observation. The two parties ought in 
no wise to be confounded. 


When they were come to the multitude, there came 
to him a man kneeling to him and saying, Lord have 
mercy on my son ; for he is epileptic, and suffers griev- 
ously ; for oft-times he falleth into the fire, and oft- 
times into the water. And I brought him to thy 
disciples, and they could not cure him. And Jesus 
answered and said, faithless and perverse generation, 
how long shall I be with you ? How long shall I bear 
with you ? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus re- 
buked him ; and the demon went out of him ; and the 
boy was cured from that hour. Then came the disciples 
to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast it out ? 
And he saith unto them. Because of your little faith. 
Matt. xvii. 14-20. 

When they came to the disciples, they saw a great 
multitude about them, and scribes questioning with 
them. And straightway, all the multitude, when they 
saw him, were greatly amazed, and running to him, 
saluted him. And he asked them. What question ye 
with them ? And one of the multitude answered him, 
Master, I brought unto thee my son, who liath a dumb 
spirit ; and whithersoever it taketh him, it dasheth 
him down ; and he foameth and grindeth his teeth, and 
pineth away; and I spake to thy disciples that they 
should cast it out ; and they were not able. And he 
answereth them and saith, faithless generation, how 
long shall I be wdth you ? How long shall I bear with 
you ? Bring him unto me. And they brought him 

82 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

unto him ; and when he saw him, straightway the 
spirit tare him grievously ; and he fell on the ground 
and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How 
long time is it since this hath come to him ? And he 
said, From a child. And oft-times it hath cast him 
both into the fire and into the waters to destroy him : 
but if thou canst do anything, liave compassion on us, 
and help us. And Jesus said unto him. If thou canst ! 
All things are possible to him that believeth. Straight- 
way, the father of the child cried out, and said, I 
believe ; help thou mine unbelief. And when Jesus 
saw that a multitude came running together, he rebuked 
the unclean spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and 
deaf spirit, I command thee, come out of him, and enter 
no more into him. And having cried out, and torn him 
much, he came out : and the child became as one dead ; 
insomuch that the more part said. He is dead. But 
Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up ; and 
he arose. And when he was come into the house, 
his disciples asked him privately, saying, We could 
not cast it out ? And he said unto them. This kind 
can come out by nothing, save by prayer. Mark 
ix. 14-29. 

When they were come down from the mountain, a 
great multitude met him. And behold, a man from the 
multitude cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee to 
look upon my son ; for he is mine only child : and behold 
a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out ; and it 
teareth him that he foameth, and it hardly departeth 
from him, bruising him sorely. And I besought thy 
disciples to cast it out ; and they could not. And Jesus 
answered and said, faithless and perverse generation, 
how long shall I be with you, and bear with you ? 
Bring hither thy son. And as he was yet a coming, 
the demon dashed him down, and tare him grievously. 
But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the 
boy, and gave him back to his father. And they 
were all astonished at the majesty of God. Luke 
ix. 37-43. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 83 

This outstanding case of possession deservedly 
receives a prominent place in the Triple Tradition. 
The narrative of Mark is realistic. Its diagnostic 
value exceeds that of the other two Evangelists. The 
complaint of this boy might seem to need no defini- 
tion ; for " all have knowledge " of it, as a case of 
epilepsy. There is the cry preceded by the uncon- 
sciousness, the sudden fall, the convulsive seizure, the 
gnashing of the teeth, the foaming at the mouth, the 
rolling on the ground ; then the utter exhaustion, so 
that, in the graphic words of the father, the boy " is 
shrivelled up" {^ripaiverai, Mark ix. 18). The latter 
is also the description of the distinguished Eoman 
physician, Celsus. The comatose condition ensuing on 
the rapid repetition of severe fits, shows itself in the 
remark of many who said, He is dead ! These features 
belong to a severe type of epilepsy {haut mal), and 
complete the popular diagnosis. 

They do not, however, complete the points on 
which Jesus laid stress, no more than they would 
satisfy the inquiries of a physician whose skill is 
above that of a charlatan. It is very instructive to 
observe Christ passing beyond the coarse and pro- 
nounced symptoms of epilepsy ; penetrating beneath 
the surface with the question : How long ago is it since 
this befell him ? " Since childhood," says the father. 
That piece of information is peculiar to Mark ; although 
the technical value of it could not have been realised 
by him. To one's surprise, Luke has nothing to say 
of the matter ; though he tells us, evidently on the 

84 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

authority of Matthew, that the patient was still in the 
age of boyhood. That note is important ; because it 
is capable of reduction to a numerical estimate, and 
throws much light on the condition of the boy. 

The illness dated " from childhood " {Ik iraiSiodev, 
Mark ix. 21). Possibly it was congenital. At any 
rate the convulsions began early in life, and had been 
frequent. At this date, the fits were so numerous 
that in the language of the times, " the demon hardly 
departed from the boy, wearing him away." Boyhood 
here denotes an age of some twelve years.^ Here 
then are convulsions, beginning early in life, severe, 
and of frequent occurrence. These three factors are 
clearly brought out, and claim attention. The signi- 
ficance of them lies in the fact that they are the sure 
precursors of imbecility or idiocy. If any confirma- 
tion of this conclusion were needed, we find it in 
Christ's recognition of the fact that the boy's dumb- 
ness and deafness were constituent parts of the mental 
disorder (Mark Lx. 25). They were correlated by 
Him with the broad epileptic symptoms which were 
open to all observers. Both sets of symptoms are 
traced by Jesus to one common underlying condition. 
That is in full accordance with the observation that 
sense-defects are common among imbeciles and idiots. 
In these cases, the loss of any one of the special 
senses is not to be taken into account as a separate 
matter ; for such a loss denotes an addition also to the 
other disabilities under which the patient labours, — an 

1 So in Luke ii. 4"2, 43. Cf. "Wagner's Manual of Palholoyy. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 8 5 

aggravation of the whole condition. The dumbness and 
the deafness here are great calamities per se ; but they 
further signify increased mental defect or degeneration. 
Yet the mere physical health of those subjects may 
remain surprisingly vigorous, and the bodily strength 
may be well mamtained. That seems to have been 
the case here ; apart, of course, from the temporary 
exhaustion following the fits. It is clear that the 
boy did not remain indoors ; otherwise he could not 
have fallen " often into the fire and often into the 
water." These words are explicit evidence that the 
lad was prone to wander abroad, apparently baffling 
the care of his guardians. Like other epileptic idiots, 
he was restless in his habits. Indications of wild 
impulses, unruly passions, destructive propensities, and 
suicidal intent, are furnished by the assertion that the 
" spirit often dashed him into fire and into waters, 
that it might destroy him." As in kindred cases, 
these outbreaks were likely to be mostly unprovoked 
and not easily circumvented. The dumbness and 
deafness, the multiplicity and severity of the con- 
vulsions, are proofs of serious organic disease or 
degeneration of the brain ; issuing in this deplorable 
imbecility or idiocy, with its attendant perils. The 
case of this boy is almost desperate, even among 
epileptic idiots.^ 

^ Jurists liave drawn distinctions between imbecility and idiocy. 
Coke defined an idiot as one ' ' who from liis nativity by a perpetual 
infirmity is non compos mentis." Alienists are content to assume the 
clinical standpoint and to regard both imbecility and idiocy as but 
degrees of weakmindedness. 

86 Demonic Possession in the Nevj Testament 


These then are the three " typical cases " of posses- 
sion. From them we derive the meaning to he attached 
to the demoniac state as described in the New Testa- 
ment. On the physical side, these are concrete in- 
stances of epileptic insanity, acute mania, and epileptic 
idiocy. In other words, they all belonged to the 
general category of " Lunacy and Idiocy." That, there- 
fore, is the real significance of the demoniac state ; and 
this definite conception is to be carried forward for the 
consideration of the more obscure cases. 


Jesus went out thence and withdrew into the parts 
of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanitish woman 
came out from those borders and cried, saying, Have 
mercy on me, Lord, thou son of David ; my daughter 
is grievously vexed with a demon. Jesus answered 
and said unto her, woman, great is thy faith, be it 
unto thee, even as thou wilt. And her daughter was 
healed from that hour. Matt. xv. 21, 22, 28. 

From thence he arose, and went into the borders of 
Tyre and Sidon. Straightway, a woman whose little 
daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of him, 
came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was 
a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by race. And she besought 
him that he would cast forth the demon out of her 
daughter. And he said unto her. For this saying, go 
thy way ; the demon is gone out of thy daughter. And 
she went away to her house, and found the child laid 
upon the bed, and the demon gone forth." Mark vii. 
24-26, 29, 30. 

In point of time, this case precedes that of the idiot 
boy; but the previous study of the latter greatly 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 8 7 

facilitates the consideration of the present instance. 
The two have several notable points of contact with 
each other, which are specially noted by Mark. These 
common features are the sure guide to the proper 

1. The ages of both patients are nearly the same, 
Mark applies to each of them the designation, " child " 
(iracBtov, vii. 30, ix. 24), But the age of the boy 
was shown to be about twelve years. That also 
appears to be the age of the " young daughter " of 
the Syro-Phcenician mother. 

2. The symptoms of their derangements are closely 
akin. The boy "suffers badly" (Matt, xvii. 15); the 
girl is " badly demonised " (Matt, xv, 22), The infest- 
ing spirit in each case is " filthy " (Mark vii. 25, ix. 25). 
In both there is the suggestion of wild roving habits. 
There is a note of surprise in the mother returning to 
find her daughter " laid upon the bed." The absence 
of deafness and dumbness in the case of the girl only 
proves that her illness has not yet reached its worst 

3. The termination of the two cases is in convulsions. 
The Authorised and Eevised Versions, with admirable 
equivocation say that the girl was found "laid upon 
the bed." The common but false variant reading — 
^e^XtjfievTjv eVt r?}? K\ivr]<i — would denote " resting 
upon the bed." ^ But the correct reading here signifies 
that the " child " was hurled upon the bed (^e^Xrj/jiivov 
iirl Ti]v KKivr}v,M.3i,Yk vii. 30). The second Evangelist 

1 Cf. Matt, ix, 2. 

88 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

rightly draws attention to the fact that a convulsive 
seizure was the antecedent common to the healing of 
those two. 

This brief comparison of their symptoms proves 
that the ailments were essentially alike. The diag- 
nosis here is thus epileptic idiocy. But while the boy 
was brought to Jesus for cure, the girl was healed at 
a distance. There is then a difference in the sequel 
to those two cases. The lad vras returned to his 
father in the full enjoyment of both mental and 
physical health ; the girl was Jiurled upon the heel ; 
freed from her mental derangement, but with her 
physical energies not as yet recruited. In the former 
cases, the commanding word and the invigorating 
touch of Jesus issued in complete restoration ; in the 
latter the word was effective, but the touch was lack- 
ing. The lad had undergone a double miracle ; not 
so the girl. The complete convalescence of the 
daughter of Jairus was left to rest and diet (Mark v. 
43); and a similar course is indicated in the case of 
the daughter of this Syro-Phoenician mother. 


And as they went forth, behold, there was brought 
to him a dumb man {-/.(upo;), possessed with a demon. 
And when the demon was cast out, the dumb man 
spake. And the multitudes marvelled, saying. It was 
never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said. By the 
prince of demons, casteth he out demons. Matt, ix, 
32-34; cf. Luke xi. 14, 15. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 89 

This brief and almost casual description of this 
demoniac's condition is very unpromising. Mental 
derangement is assumed on the grounds already 
stated. The dumbness with which it is associated 
puts us on the track for the discovery of its specific 
form. Dumbness may arise from many causes. It 
is often the sequel of deafness ; for the normal ante- 
cedent of speech is hearing. Deafness, therefore, 
complete or nearly complete, if congenital or acquired 
early in life, through defect or disease or injury to 
the parts connected with the organs of hearing, is 
almost a certain precursor of dumbness. This close 
relation between deafness and dumbness is reflected 
in the Greek term /cco(^o9, as in the Hebrew ^-\r\, 
which alike denote deaf, or dumb, or deaf-and-dumb. 
But by far the commonest cause of true dumbness 
is that associated with mental disorder arising from 
cerebral defect or disease. The mental derangement 
implied in the demoniac state here coexists with 
dumbness which involves deafness. This triple con- 
junction of mental disease, dumbness, and deafness, 
leads straightway to the diagnosis of idiocy or 


Then was brought unto him one possessed of a 
demon, blind and dumb : and he healed him, insomuch 
that the dumb man spake and saw. And all the multi- 
tudes were amazed and said, Is this the son of David ? 
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This man 

90 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebul as prince of 
demons. Matt. xii. 22-24; cf. Luke xi. 14, 15. 

This case is not at all to be identified with the 
preceding, as if it were a duplicate of the same.^ But, 
like the former, it is a case of idiocy or imbecility ; 
with the additional feature of blindness. That is a 
new element of serious import here. Blindness may 
arise from congenital defects in the organs of vision, 
or it may be the outcome of local disease or injury. 
In like manner, it may be the result of disease or 
defect in those parts of the brain which are connected 
with the organs of vision. It may then coexist 
with intellectual incapacities. There is every reason 
to believe that the dumbness, deafness, and blindness, 
here present, are in organic union with the mental 
disorder, and therefore constituent parts of one 
underlying condition, namely, grave cerebral defect 
or disease. The idiocy or imbecility is thus of an 
aggravated type. Though life might not be immedi- 
ately endangered, there was here a four-fold disaster 
which must have reduced the patient to a condition 
of most abject misery and helplessness. 


With him were certain women who had been healed 
of evil spirits and infirmities, — Mary that was called 
the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone 
forth. Luke viii. 2 (cf. Mark xvi. 9). 

^ See Appendix C, The dumb demoniac versus tlie blind and dumb 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 9 1 

This is the ouly demoniac who bears a name ; 
and she is the unhappy possessor of seven demons. 
Talmudists have much slandered her ; but in this 
matter they are hardly worse than those who con- 
found her with the woman who washed the feet of 
Jesus with her tears (Luke vii. 37, 38); or have made 
her the patroness of unfortunates. John Lightfoot 
understood by the term " Magdalene," " a hair-curler," 
which metaphorically bears a suspicious significance. 
In this unfortunate conjecture, he has been followed 
by Lagarde and others. But the obvious interpret- 
ation is that which associates Mary with the town 
of Magdala, then largely engaged in dyeing and 
woollen manufactures. She was probably a widow 
in affluent circumstances, like Lydia of Thyatira (Acts 
xvi. 14). Her appearance in the company of the 
wife of Herod's steward, and her ministrations to 
Jesus in life and in death, confirm our conjecture 
as to her good social position. The interest of the 
situation lies in its indication of the existence of 
mental disease among the upper classes of the Jews 
at this date. 

Celsus (not the Eoman physician of that name, 
but the friend of Lucian) calls Mary a " half -frantic 
woman " (yvu^] irdpotarpo^)} While insanity was doubt- 
less present, it is not quite easy to assign a precise 
meaning to the " seven demons." To connect these 
with her " many sins " is a gratuitous assumption. 
Or to discover here, seven attacks of illness and 

^ Oiigen, Contra Cclsum, ii. 55. 

92 Demonic Possession in the Nevj Testament 

seven recoveries, is iuconsisteiit with the fact that 
Jesus turned out the " seven " at a single operation. 
Eenan associates the derangement of Mary with the 
Persian Asmodieus, " tlie cause of all the hysterical 
afflictions of women." But the ailment here is not 
hysteria. Nor is her case parallel with that where 
the single demon goes forth to consort with " other 
seven," more wicked than himself ; for the demons 
of Mary are seven, not eight. The best explanation 
is that which leads us to recognise here the operation 
of Babylonian influences. In the " Magical Texts " of 
Babylonia, the " seven spirits " are of frequent oc- 
currence. Possession by them was of the gravest 
significance ; necessitating an appeal to Ea, Lord of 
spirits. The appointed remedy was the smoke of the 
cedar tree, on whose core was written the name of 
Ea, ascending to the roof of the chamber, coupled 
with the spell supreme, the spell of Eridu and of 
purity.^ The mention of the " seven " thus attests 
the severity of Mary's disorder ; proving that it sur- 
passed the skill of ordinary practitioners. Evidently 
she too was brought to Jesus in a state of utmost 
distress. Her ailment is acute mania. 


And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on 
the Sabbath day. And behold a woman who had a 
spirit of infirmity eighteen years ; and she was bowed 
together, and could in no wise lift herself up. And 

^ Sayce, Hihbert Lectures, pp. 459, 470, 471. 

Medical As2Jects of Demonic Possession 9 3 

when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, 
Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he 
laid his hands upon her. And immediately she was 
made straight, and glorified God. (Jesus said). Ought 
not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom 
Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, to have 
been loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day ? Luke 
xiii. 10-13, 16. 

Consideration of this case has been deferred, be- 
cause it is not clearly a case of possession. The 
woman is said to have been bound by Satan, and to 
have had " a spirit of infirmity." Meyer puts her 
in the class of the demoniacs. For him, " the spirit 
of infirmity " is a demon who has " paralysed her 
muscular powers." " As a daughter of Abraham, she 
belongs to the special people of God, and must hence 
be wrested from the devil ; since he, by means of one of 
his servants, — a demon, has taken away her liberty." ^ 
The proof of this statement must rest upon the report 
of the symptoms and the express testimony of our Lord. 

1. The report of the case. — The symptoms enumer- 
ated are such as refer to the inability of the woman 
to assume an erect carriage. The points noted are — 

(«) A constant and pronounced stoop. 

(6) A marked loss of muscular power. 

(c) A rigidity of certain structures. 

(d) A disorder not psychical but surgical. 

In the first instance, the case is described as one of 
" infirmity." In the second, as " spirit of infirmity." 
But the two terms are coextensive. The latter 
^ Meyer, in loco. 

94 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

cannot contain any more than the former. Then 
mention is made of a " bond " ; but its significance 
is demonstrably pathological. To its existence, tlie 
woman owed her inability to " look up at all." It 
has been variously interpreted as " gouty contraction," 
" muscular contraction," and " paralytic crippling." An- 
other suggestion is " rheumatism." But until popular 
expositors condescend to enlighten us on the group 
of muscles thus affected, their conjectures are not 
worth a moment's consideration. The woman " was 
bowed together," and had been in that state for 
" eighteen years." The stoop was not more severe 
than prolonged. We regard this therefore as an 
exteme instance of spinal disease, in the form of 
" Pott's curvature." The passage is rich in medical 
terms, all pointing to the same conclusion. Hippo- 
crates, speaking of curvature of the spine, uses the 
term Xvetv, for its removal. Galen employs dvaKvir- 
recv, for the straightening of the vertebal column. 
The ancient surgeons use airoXveiv, for the relaxation 
of tendons, membranes, and other structures ; also 
avopdovv, for replacing parts in their normal position. 
Luke employs the current terminology in these con- 
nections.^ The crowning corroboration of this view 
is found in the term " bond." In disease of this sort, 
there is at the conclusion of the morbid process the 
formation of a " bond," by the fusion and cementing 
together of the disorganised tissues ; entailing an " in- 
firmity," through the atrophy of the dorsal muscles. 

1 Hobart, Medical Language of St. Luke, p. 21. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 9 5 

There is no evidence whatever for the belief that this 
spinal complaint concurred with mental derangement. 
The woman is a quiet member of the synagogue, 
approaching Jesus without confession or adjuration. 
In this respect, she is on a level with the sanest of 
her neighbours. 

2. The testimony of Jesus. — This includes His 
acts as well as His words. In all other cases, the 
demoniacs are healed " by a word." Here, however, 
there is no exorcism, but imposition of hands. The 
latter is indeed expressly reserved for non-demonic 
cases; such as leprosy (Matt. viii. 3), fever (Mark i. 
31), blindness (Matt. ix. 29), and common ailments 
(Mark vi. 5 ; Luke iv. 40). That further forbids the 
inclusion of this case among the demonised. The 
phrase " spirit of infirmity," which is Luke's, does not 
militate against this assertion ; for both Hellenistic 
and Eabbinic custom permitted its use as an abstract 
form in place of the concrete term "infirmity," here 
employed by our Lord. What then are we to make of 
the description, " — whom Satan has bound " ? Trench 
discovers in this comment " a deeper spiritual root " 
to the woman's calamity. " Her sickness, having its 
first seat in her spirit, had brought her into a moody, 
melancholy state," of which her outward condition 
" was but the sign and the consequence." ^ It will 
readily be granted that the kingdom of Satan has its 
physical as well as its ethical side. But the latter 
is not here in evidence. This woman is a devout 
^ Trench, Notes on the Miracles. 

96 Demonic Possession in the Nev) Testament 

worshipper, " a daughter of Abraham," and therefore 
still an heir of the promises. She is no " profane 
person," no abandoned wretch, no God-forsaken Judas, 
into whom Satan has entered. The " binding " then 
has no reference to any ethical operation ; but simply 
to the physical condition. Neither the symptoms of 
this case, nor the testimony of Christ, can be con- 
strued into proof of demonic possession. 


And it came to pass that as we were going to the 
place of prayer, a certain maid, having a spirit, a 
Python, met us, who brought her masters much gain by 
soothsaying. The same following after Paul and us, 
cried out saying, These men are servants of the Most 
High God who proclaim to you a way of salvation. 
And this she did for many days. But Paul being sore 
troubled, turned and said to the spirit, I charge thee in 
the Name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And it 
came out that very hour." Acts xvi. 16-18. 

The special features of this case suggest two 
theories, — fraud or insanity. The discovery of the 
truth here is not a simple matter. We start from the 
fact that somehow there was a decided change in the 
condition of this maid, which rendered her incapable of 
pursuing her former vocation. She was cured of 
something, — either fraud or insanity. 

1. Was this a case of fraud and wilful imposition ? 
The prophetic art, such as it was among the nations at 
this time, laboured under severe suspicion, though the 
age was notorious for its credulity. It is wrong, how- 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 9 7 

ever, to suppose that the ancient oracles were mere 
manufactories of hes. Sometimes we find them advo- 
cating patriotic schemes, such as naval defence and 
foreign colonisation. Statecraft w\as here supplemented 
by priestcraft ; but collusion need not be supposed. 
Even the delivery of ambiguous oracles cannot always 
be traced to intentional equivocation. The whole 
profession was a vast pseudo-science, whose agents, by 
the very rules of their art, had often to halt betwixt 
two opinions. That is the best that can be said for 
the oracles of old. The element of crookedness 
tended to enter into their transactions. Modes of 
tampering with seals were quite well known. ^ If, in 
the higher ranks of this calling, fraud was frequent, 
the same was much more common among the venal 
and rapacious soothsayers of the streets. Was this 
maid then a mere impostor ? The foregoing considera- 
tions would point in that direction. But there are 
others which are quite decisive against the theory of 
wilful imposition. The august counterpart of this 
woman was the Pythoness of Delphi. Both were 
supposed to be inspired by Apollo. Both belonged to 
a religious system keenly antagonistic to that pro- 
claimed by Paul. No mere trickster would have ven- 
tured to advertise this rival company as " servants of 
the Most High God who announce a way of salvation." 
But that was the very thing this soothsayer did, " for 
many days " ; to the vast loss of the syndicate who 
owned her, and to the great grief of Paul. A shrewd 
^ Luciau, Pscudomantis. 


98 Demonic Possession in the JVeiv Testament 

adv^enturess would not liave created those troubles for 
lierself and her employers. If the Apostle had sus- 
pected her of mere deceit, her discomfiture would not 
have lingered so long. Before his " glittering eye," 
Elymas, the well-seasoned sorcerer, had already re- 
coiled in terror. A sagacious fortune-teller would 
have instinctively avoided such company. So the 
theory of fraud entirely fails to substantiate itself. 
2. Was this a case of insanity ? There are 
abnormal symptoms of that sort ; such as want of 
self-control, along with noisy demonstrations. Clearly, 
the woman was incapable of taking in the situation ; 
whether it affected her masters, whose sordid selfish- 
ness she did not understand, or Paul, who was vexed 
with her monotonous wail. Her insanity was of a 
mild chronic type, quite harmless to the lieges. She 
had wit enough to distinguish Paul and his company 
day after day, and memory sufficient to pick up a few 
phrases among those strangers ; such as " servants of 
the Most High God," and " way," and " salvation." 
The very mildness of her derangement was one of her 
best qualifications for discharging the functions of a 
Pythoness. Euripides remarks that " madness has a 
good deal of the prophetic art ; for whenever the god 
largely enters the body, he makes the madmen foretell 
the f utvire." ^ Plato similarly says that " the greatest 
blessings we possess, spring from madness, when granted 
by the bounty of heaven. For the prophetesses at 
Delphi and the priestesses at Dodona, when mad, have 

^ Bacchic, 241, 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 99 

done many and noble services to Greece, but in their 
sober senses, little or nothing." ^ How easily a lunatic 
might pass for a heaven-sent messenger, is seen from 
the words of Plato, as quoted by Clement of Alex- 
andria, attributing " a certain dialect to the gods ; 
concluding this specially from dreams and oracles, as 
well as from demoniacs, who do not speak their own 
language, but that of the indwelling demons." In the 
case before us, this maid had " a spirit, a Python " ; 
otherwise a soothsaying demon (Bai/xovtov fiavTiKov).- 
" The inspired idiot " is a well-known phrase, recalling 
the preceding opinions. It remains a conviction with 
some who regard themselves as illuminated, but whose 
affinities in this respect are decidedly with the races of 
the lower culture. 


And God wrought special miracles by the hand of 
Paul ; insomuch that unto the sick were carried from 
his body handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases 
departed from them, and the evil spirits went forth. 
But certain also of the strolling Jews, exorcists, took 
upon them to name over them that had evil spirits, the 
name of the Lord Jesus, saying, I adjure you by Jesus 
whom Paul preacheth ! And there were seven sons of 
one Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest, who did this. And the 
evil spirit answered and said unto them, Jesus I acknow- 
ledge and Paul I am acquainted with ; but who are ye ? 
And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on 
them, and mastered both of them, and prevailed against 

1 Fhccdrus, 47. 

- Meyer, in loco ; cf. ^ncid, vi. 77-80. 

100 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

them, so that they fled out of that house, naked and 
wounded. Acts xix. 11-16.^ 

There is a change here in the character of the cases 
of possession compared with those previously con- 
sidered. The superstitious of the Ephesian Christians 
are thrust into unhappy prominence, as well as their 
magical practices. Paul had long laboured in Ephesus ; 
the result being that " all those who dwelt in Asia 
heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks." 
His reputation as a worker of miracles was also 
firmly established ; so that " from his person were 
brought to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons," when 
demons and diseases alike departed. The Apostle 
had thus, in popular esteem, become a store of healing 
virtue, which required only a material vehicle to 
render it effective to the afflicted at a distance. At 
an earlier period, we find Peter in Jerusalem, the object 
of a similar veneration. People resorted to him for 
therapeutic purposes, trusting not in " handkerchiefs 
and aprons"; but in his "shadow" (Acts v. 15). 
There is no evidence whatever to prove that either 
Peter or Paul encouraged those practices, which 
savoured strongly of superstition. The grace of God 
is not of necessity bound to the correctness of a 
theory. Jesus responded to a genuine, though super- 
stitious, faith in the case of the sick woman (Matt, 
ix. 22). 

The cure of the possessed at Ephesus would have 
been reduced to its simplest ethnic terms, had clothes 

^ Appendix D, Fact-basis of the Ephesian narrative. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 101 

" touched to the body " of Paul been used alone. It 
is evident, however, that the Name of Jesus was the 
potent instrument in the cure of the demoniacs by the 
Christians, The strolling Jews were prompt to notice 
the point ; and the sons of Sceva forthwith resolved 
to add the Name to their repertory of incantations. 
Their first attempt to operate with the new talisman 
was not more dangerous tlian ludicrous. A genuine 
experiment was aimed at by those exorcists. The 
demoniac was no selected impostor. He was appar- 
ently a sufferer from epileptic insanity, now enjoying 
a temporary intermission of his troubles. There are 
indications of a certain degree of mental vigour, and 
traces of religious monomania. The course of events 
becomes quite intelligible. 

The initial state of this man betokened no immediate 
danger. He was in a house, when sought out by this 
enterprising couple. But his condition was one of exces- 
sive irritability ; predisposing him to violent reaction 
on the application of even a trifling stimulus. The 
routine Jewish practice, as attested by Josephus and 
Justin Martyr, comi^rised adjurations and fumigations. 
The method was undoubtedly most provocative to a 
person " possessed." What more certain than that the 
alarming adjuration combined with the acrid smoke 
would produce an instant outburst of maniacal fury ? 
The lunatic, now roused to the highest pitch of excite- 
ment by those sons of Sceva, summed up all his griev- 
ances in a comprehensive " assault and battery " on 
his tormentors. They had gone, no doubt, to that 

102 Demonic Possession in the Nevj Testament 

house in the brave attii'e of the magician ; ^ but after 
being "jumped upon " and " mastered " (Acts xix. 16), 
they fled from the scene of their operations, bare and 
bleeding ! That spectacle was highly edifying to those 
who had hitherto reconciled their profession of Chris- 
tianity with the practice of " curious arts." Burning 
their books, they thenceforth purged themselves from 
this leaven of paganism. 

' See Lucian's Fhilo2)scudes, Kecuomantis, and Pseudomantis. 


Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession — 

numbers of the possessed in the time of 


AN approximation only is possible ; but even that 
leads far afield. When, however, the indica- 
tions available are carefully considered, a fair appre- 
ciation of the numbers of the possessed at this date 
is attainable. 

A. The regions u'hcnce the j^osscssed were brought 

These were Jud;ea, Galilee, PercTa ; also Decapolis, 
Tyre, and Sidon.^ The three former districts com- 
prised the great divisions of Jewish territory proper. 
The other three were outlandish, and inhabited by 
mixed populations. The cities of Decapolis are not 
uniformly defined by the ancient geographers. The 
number may have varied, as the towns composing 
this confederacy were loosely combined for mutual 
purposes of commerce and defence. Pliny men- 
tions Scythopolis, Hippos, Gadara, Pella, Philadelphia, 

1 ]\ratt. iv. 2') ; Mark iii. 7, 8 ; Luke vi. 17. 

104 Demonic Possession in the Ncvj Testament 

Gerasa, Dion, Canatha, Damascus, and Eaphana. 
Ptolemy gives eighteen cities ; but the numerical 
difference is immateriah The point to be noted is 
that Damascus is common to both Usts. That dis- 
poses of the attempt of Keim to remove it from the 
catalogue of " The Ten Cities." It also points to 
the reason for Christ's choice of Capernaum as a 
centre for effective work. Capernaum was the foeal 
2Joint of the Eastern and Western Dispersions, heeause 
of its situation on the great commercial highway between 
the East and the West. It dominated the following 
regions : — 

1. The Euphrates Valley. 

2. Decapolis and the towns of Galilee. 

3. Tyre, Sidon, and other Mediterranean ports. 

4. Jerusalem and its southern dependencies. 

At this date the Jewish merchants of Babylonia 
and Alexandria almost monopolised the Indian and 
Eastern Trade of the Eoman Empire. The former 
were interested in the sea - borne commerce which 
passed up the Persian Gulf, by the Euphrates Valley, 
through Palmyra, Damascus, and Capernaum ; thence 
to such ports as Tyre and Sidon ; and so to the cities 
of the West generally. Any event of uncommon 
importance occurring in Capernaum would within a 
few days be reported in the Eastern and Western 
Dispersions. The news sped along the great trade- 
routes radiating from Capernaum. After the stirring- 
events associated with the beginning of the Healing 
Ministry of Jesus in that city, we can at once under- 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 105 

stand how multitudes should flock from all parts of 
the land of Israel ; also from Decapolis, Tyre, and 
Sidon. The Jews of the Diaspora^ might have availed 
themselves of the gracious activity of our Lord in the 
healing of the afflicted. 

B. The population of Palestine 

The census returns of Augustus have vanished lono; 
ago ; and we must rely on indirect evidence. The 
enumeration of Joab covered an area closely corre- 
sponding to " Jud»a, Galilee, Peraja ; Decapolis, Tyre, 
and Sidon." It indicates a population of not less 
than 4,000,000. Another account gives even a 
larger reckoning.^ The figures may seem high for 
a land mainly engaged in agriculture ; but the 
period was a prosperous one. That census may 
fairly represent the case also in the time of our 

When Sennacherib captured " forty-six of the strong 
cities of Hezekiah, with innumerable fortresses and 
small towns," he " counted as a spoil 200,150 per- 
sons, great and small, male and female." This loss 
does not seem to have been much felt in the little 
Southern Kingdom, whose population could scarcely 
be less than 1,000,000. Comparing the area con- 
cerned with that traversed by Joab, we are prepared 
to accept 4,000,000 as the population under David 
and under the early rule of the Eomans. 

Josephus asserts that in his day, Galilee contained 

"•■ 2 Sam. xxiv. 5-9 ; cf. 1 Chrou. xxi. 5, 6. 

106 Demonic Possession in the Nciu Testament 

"240 cities aud villages " ; ^ each containing " more 
than 15,000 people." ^ That gives a population of 
more than 4,000,000. But these figures are fabu- 
lous. They give a density of population of more 
than 3000 per square mile; whereas Lancashire, the 
most popvdous county of England, after Middlesex, 
has less than 2000 on the same unit of surface. 
Again, the exports of Galilee were enormous, and 
found an outlet in the markets of the world. But if 
the population of this district were 4,000,000, then 
the home consumption must liave been very vast ; not 
permitting exports of the magnitude indicated. We 
shall not greatly err, if we reduce the estimate of this 
historian by half, aud take the population of the 
whole country at 4,000,000, as found within " Judiica, 
Galilee, Peraea ; Decapolis, Tyre, aud Sidon," in the 
time of our Lord.^ 

C. The mental temperament of the 2')coplc 

The history of the Hebrews is open to us for many 
generations, Abraham represents the Arabic strain 
in this race ; Jacob, the Aramaic. The temperament 
of this nation was highly emotional, greatly impulsive, 
and prone to melancholy in critical situations. These 
pathological elements are not at variance wdth the 

1 Vita., 45. - B. J. in. iii. 2. 

^ The number of the passover pilgrims was some 3,000,000 {B. J. 
VI. ix. 3). Another account suggests 6,000,000; the kidneys of the 
paschal lambs being 600,000 (Pes. 64&). Many of these pilgrims were 
from the Diasporae ; so that there is here no clue to the population of 
the land of Israel proper. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 107 

possession of great excellences otherwise. The liability 
to excessive emotion reminds us of the weeping 
warriors of Homer. Thus, after a temporary reverse, 
Joshua and the elders of Israel fell to the earth, upon 
their faces, before the ark, till eventide ; rending their 
clothes and casting dust upon their heads (Josh, 
vii. 6). A similar picture is given when the tribes 
were defeated by Benjamin ; for they wept and fasted 
(Judg. XX. 26). In like fashion, David and his mighty 
men cried over their losses, till they had no more 
power to cry (1 Sam. xxx. 4). The ambassadors of 
Hezekiah similarly shed bitter tears over their ill 
success with Sennacherib (Isa. xxxiii. 7). Jeremiah 
describes the daughters of Zion, as sitting in silence 
on the earth, casting dust upon their heads, and girding 
themselves with sackcloth (Lam. ii. 10). Ezra gave 
way to temporary religious melancholy when he tore 
his mantle, plucked out the hair of his head and 
beard, and sat down dumb with astonishment (Ezra 
ix. 3). These instances of a strong neurotic element 
in the temperament of the people readily became 
conventional or theatrical, on the one hand ; or easily 
developed into mental disease under adverse circum- 
stances, on the other. 

The records of suicide are not of much consequence 
in this connection ; because the significance of the act 
is not always discernible. Abimelech was really a 
suicide (Judg. ix. 54). Saul and his armour-bearer, 
also Ahithophel, figure thus in the Old Testament, 
and Judas in the New. But Josephus and other 

108 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

writers attest an unhappy frequency of such rash acts 
at a later date.^ 

D. The mental health of the pcoiile 

Here the concrete mstances of mental derangement 
recorded in the Old Testament fall for description. 
To these are to be added certain general indications 
of the existence of sach ailments, derivable from the 
same source — 

1. David's feigned dementia." — The easy and success- 
ful imitation of this condition by David argues its 
frequency at this date ; in this locality at least. It 
would otherwise have been impossible to impose so 
completely on the court. David " changed his con- 
duct " ; scrabbling on the doors, and slavering on his 
beard. So aptly did he play his part, that the king 
curtly dismissed him with the remark : Lo, the man 
is mad ! 

2. Said's 2'x^'i'secution mania? — The history of this 
case is most striking. From the first, Saul evinced 
a supersensitive disposition. When called to be king, 
he hid himself. His speedy assumption of the pro- 
phetic role was natural to him ; though surprising 
to the spectators. Not long afterwards, he be- 
trayed decided symptoms of mental disorder, for 
which his courtiers advised the services of a cunning 
musician. Saul's first outbreak of jealousy against 

^ Jus. B. J. III. viii. 5, 6, 7, vii. viii. 6, 7 ; Gittiii bib ; Cliulliu 

- 1 Sam. xxi. 13, 14. ^ 1 Sam. xvi. xviii.-xxi. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 109 

David occurs in connection with the ode of 
triumph- — 

Saul has slain liis thousands, 

And David his ten thousands. 

From that day onward, he eyed David. The period 
of the insane interpretation of the conduct of others 
has now begun ; also a deeply rooted aversion to 
David as the cause of all his troubles. Probably, the 
king suffered, like others of this class, from hallucina- 
tions ; such as imaginary voices, urging him on to 
acts of violence. Preceding these outbreaks, there is 
a phase of mental exaltation, with much incoherent 
talk. He prophesied (raved E.V.) in the midst of the 
house. The sequel was a deliberate attempt on the 
life of David. Failing in this, he adopts a more 
politic course by giving David a commission against 
the Philistines. Again disappointed, he incites others 
to secret assassination ; but in accordance with the 
usual course of this ailment, he shows himself, for a 
little, amenable to reason, upon the intercession of 
Jonathan. His derangement again suddenly asserts 
itself; and, yielding thereafter to his homicidal im- 
pulses, the king renews his attempts on the life of 
David. Being thwarted once more, he sends forth 
emissaries to kill him at dawn. His morbid sus- 
picion is now fully organised ; and in the pursuit of 
David, he passes again into the ecstatic state ; strip- 
ping himself of his clothing ; lying down unclad, all 
that day and all that night. After David's escape. 
Jonathan falls under suspicion as the accomplice of 

110 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

the absentee ; and becomes in turn the object of 
homicidal passion. This third outbreak of maniacal 
fury is the antecedent to the characteristic complaint 
against the army as partisans of the son of Jesse. 
The outcome of this is the ferocious onslaught on the 
priests. Then follow two prolonged pursuits of David, 
which mark the progress of his malady.^ It is not at 
all surprising to find again that Saul on each of these 
occasions, should again prove for a season amenable 
to reason. His mental vigour as yet does not seem 
to be impaired in other directions. His suicide saved 
him from the dementia in which such cases usually 
end. The whole case is a notable illustration of 
" persecution mania." Its affinities are w^holly remote 
from the fine poetic creation of Eobert Browning, 
entitled " Saul." 2 

3. NebucliadnezzcLrs lyccmthropy.^ — The historical 
difficulties of the narrative are not under considera- 
tion ; but the enumeration of a set of symptoms indi- 
cating the presence of that peculiar form of mental 

^ The two narratives are from different sources, aud some regard 
tliem as duplicates (1 Sam. xxiv. 1-22, xxvi. 1-25). From the psycho- 
logical standpoint, two separate pursuits are extremely probable. 

^ Josephus misunderstands the disorder of Saul. He speaks of 
"dreadful and demoniacal disorders," involving "suffocations" and 
"strangulations" ; "an evil spirit and demon assailing him" {iyKadi- 
^oixevuv). He evidently relies on the Sejituagiut, which asserts that 
"an evil spirit from the Lord choked him " (^7r>'t7e;'), rather than on 
the Hebrew, which declares that ' ' an evil spirit from the Lord troubled 
him." Josephus thinks, no doubt, of ejiileptic seizures; and ascribes 
these to demonic agency. He is at the ethnic standjioint ; not so, the 
first Evangelist. 

" Dan. iv. 33. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 111 

disorder, in which the person imagines tliat he is 
changed into a beast, and attempts to act in character. 
This disease was much commoner in ancient times 
than now ; judging from the numerous forms of the 
myth of the were-wolf. Here the king flees the 
habitations of men ; eating grass like an ox ; his body 
being wet with the dews of heaven, till his hairs were 
grown like eagle's feathers, and his nails like bird's 
claws. It is interesting to recall, in this connec- 
tion, the story of the hero, Eabani, of Chakhean 
legend. He was apparently the victim of lycanthropy 

In addition to these specific cases of mental disease, 
which were familiar to the Jews, there are other in- 
dications of the existence of a large amount of mental 
disorder. There is madness from drunkenness (Jer. 
XXV. 16, li. 7); from misfortune (Deut. xxviii. 34); 
from religious excitement (Hos. ix. 7; Jer. 1. 38): 
from prophetic afflatus (2 Kings ix. 11 ; Jer. xxix. 26). 
In the progression of events, circumstances emerged 
unfavourable to the vigorous mental health of the 
nation. Their whole environment in the land of their 
captivity among Babylonians and Persians tended to 
agsrravate latent elements of mental disease. " The 
Preacher " testifies to an extensive prevalence of in- 
sanity in his times. He professes to have made a 
special study of it (Eccles. i. 17); referring to the same 
in a series of passages.- This writer brings us near to 

^ See Maspero, Dawn of Civilisation, p. .57611". 
- Eccles. ii. 2, 12, vii. 7, 25, ix. 3, x. 13. 

112 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

the year 200 B.C. Eenan suggests the year 125 B.C. 
These dates both introduce us to troublous periods in 
the history of the Jews. In the former case, they 
were distressed under the Seleucid^e ; in the latter, 
they bore the hardships of the War of Independence. 
Any existing mental infirmity among the people would 
now tend to a disastrous issue. But the crowning 
aggravation of previous adverse conditions was the 
weary struggle against the might of Eome, with its 
tyrannies, its fanaticisms, and its copious bloodshed. 
These things prepare us for the discovery of a large 
amount of psychical disease among the Jews in the 
time of Christ. 

E. The repi^esentations of the Gospels 

1. Capernaum is the first scene of Christ's activity 
in this department; but not the first scene of His 
miraculous powers. In addition to the healing of the 
demoniac in the synagogue, we find a large concourse — 

When the even was come, they brought unto him many 
that were denionised and he cast out the spirits witli a word, 
and all that were ill he healed. Matt. viii. 16. Cf. Mark 
i. 3-2, 34. Luke iv. 40, 41. 

2. The scene of a wider ministry is now Galilee, of 
which we have little more than summary notices — 

Jesus was goiug about in the whole of Galilee, teaching in 
their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom, 
and healing every disease, and every infirmity among the people. 
Matt. iv. 23. Preaching and casting out demons. IVIark i. 39. 
Cf. Luke iv. 44. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 113 

3. The climax of this work appears in the great 
multitudes who were drawn from all parts of the 
country and from regions beyond — 

The report of him went into the whole of Syria, and they 
broiTght unto him all that were sick, holden of divers diseases 
and torments, specially also ^ the denionised and the epileptic 
and the palsied ; and he healed them. And there followed him 
great multitudes from Galilee, and Decapolis, and Jerusalem, 
and Judsea, and from beyond Jordan. Matt. iv. 24, 25. Cf. 
Mark iii. 7, 8, 10, 11. Luke iv. 14, 15. 

4. This vast movement proved that the harvest 
was great and the labourers few, so that the choosing 
of the Twelve is in close relation to it — 

He called unto him his twelve disciples, and gave them 
authorit}^ over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal 
every disease and every infirmity. Jesus commanded th6m, 
saying, Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, 
cast out demons. Matt. x. 1, 5, 8. Cf. Mark vi. 7. Luke 
ix. 1. 

5. At a later date, the healing of the possessed is 
still proceeding apace — 

Master, we saw one casting out demons in thy name and we 
forbade him. Mark ix. 38. Cf. Luke ix. 49. 

Go ye and tell that fox. Behold I cast out demons to-day and 
to-morrow. Luke xiii. 32. 

G. The mission of the Seventy is important in 
attempting to estimate the mmiber of the demonised ; 
both on account of the numbers employed and the 
success attained. The arguments of Strauss, De 
Wette, Gfriirer, Baur, and others, lack cogency to pro- 

^ ileycr, in loco. 

11-i Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

cure its rejection. A full examination of the subject 
leaves no doubt upon a candid mind regarding the 
reality of the Mission.^ The record of it is brief and 
somewhat paradoxical — 

Heal the sick and say to tliem, The kingdom of God 
is come nigh nnto you. The Seventy returned with joy, 
saying, Lord even the demons are subject to us, in thy name. 
Luke X. 9, 17. 

7. There may have been other occasions when 
the demoniacs were healed, though unmentioned ; as 
when Jesus went forth and " saw a great multitude, 
and was moved with compassion towards them, and 
healed their sick" (Matt. xiv. 14); or as when they 
broucrht to Him the afflicted " out of the cities and 
villages and country " of Gennesaret (Mark vi. 55, 56). 
It is a mistake, however, to suppose that the demon- 
ised were always in evidence when the healing of 
disease was going forward. The testimony of Christ 
is explicit on the point. To the deputation from the 
Baptist, He said. Go and tell John the things which 
ye do hear and see. The blind receive their sight 
and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the 
deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor are 
evangehsed (Matt. xi. 4, 5).- 

^ Appendix E, The ^lissiou of the Seventy. 

- Luke repeats the words of Matthew with a notable addition as 
jireface : "In that same hour, he cured many of their diseases and 
plagues and evil spirits, and unto many that were blind, he gi-anted 
sight " (Luke vii. 21). The mention of ' ' evil sitirits " is an independent 
touch. Is it the hand of a redactor ? 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 115 

F. Comparison of the Jews ivith the Greeks and the 

It has been shown that the hereditary factor was 
pronounced in the case of the Jews, and was much 
aggravated in later times. The narratives of the 
Synoptists prove the existence of a large amount of 
lunacy and idiocy among this people in the time of 
our Lord. Were they, then, any worse off than their 
neighbours in this respect ? 

1. The Greeks. — Latent elements of mental dis- 
order are here also clearly perceptible. Lycanthropy 
was rather common in Arcadia. The daughters of 
Proetus were thus afflicted, and the contagion spread 
to the women of Argos. Bellerophon was insane, 
" shunning the trodden path of men." Sophocles, in 
his noble Ajax, skilfully describes a case of acute 
mania. Similarly, Euripides, in his thrilliug Hercules 
Furens, depicts artistically a case of epileptic 
insanity. Herodotus records at some length the 
madness and self-mutilation of Cleomenes. Plato, in 
his BepuUic, provides for the adequate cai'e of 
lunatics. Aristotle repeatedly refers to such ailments. 
Plutarch, in his Superstitions, gives an excellent de- 
scription of religious melancholy. In his work on 
" The Failure of the Oracles," he relates the case of 
the Pythoness at Delphi, who became insane in the 
discharge of her office ; being seized with " a speechless 
and evil spirit," and dying shortly afterwards.^ In 

^ The Pythoness inhaled the vaiiours emanating from the oracular 

116 Demonic Possession in the Ncio Testament 

accordance with these indications, we find insanity 
and allied diseases receiving scientific attention in 
the Greek schools of medicine, from the time of 
Hippocrates onwards. These meagre hints go far 
to show that in the matter of mental temperament 
and health, the Greeks were not superior to tlie 

2. The Bomans. — Hereditary factors are here also 
strong. That popular play-wright, Plautus, used to 
spice his comedies with the lighter phases of insanity, 
as in his Amphitruo, Aulularia, Captivi, Mensechmus, 
and P(ienulus. Horace gives an amusing instance of 
delusional insanity in the gentleman of Argos, who 
listened with rapt pleasure to imaginary actors in the 
empty theatre. He denounced his meddlesome friends 
for curing him of a most delighful delusion. In one 
of his satires (il. iii.), this poet gives a locus classicus 
on the subject ; describing the simple mania of one 
who treasures up trash ; the acute mania of him who 
pelts his neighbours with stones ; the delusional 
insanity of him who takes a lambkin for his daughter ; 
the dementia of the grey-beard whose joy is baby- 
games ; the active melancholy of the slave who rushes 
through the streets, bawling out for immortality. 
Then we have also the valuable treatise of Celsus on 
mental diseases, and the appalling array of quack 
remedies preserved (passim) by the elder Pliny in his 

cave. When under tlieir influence, licr movements and utterances were 
interpreted hj the presiding priest. These niephitic fumes may have 
precipitated lier insanity. 

Medical Asjiects of Demonic Possession 117 

Natural History. The Emperor Caligula (37—41 
A.D.) was full of the wildest ideas ; being a sufferer 
from epileptic insanity. These fragmentary indica- 
tions demonstrate that in regard to mental tempera- 
ment and health, the Eomaus were not superior to 
the Jews.^ 

G. Comparison of the Jews with the peoples of the 
British Isles 

Many other standards of comparison are available ; 
this being merely a matter of convenience. An 
attempt is here made to reach the practical bearing 
of the preceding facts, namely, the discovery of the 
probable number of the possessed in the time of our 
Lord. The general similarity of the conditions pre- 
valent among those different nations is much more 
striking than appears at first sight. A comparison is 
feasible, provided that two things are constantly kept 
in view. 

1. The factors of causation of mental diseases in 
general. — These cannot be enumerated in detail ; but 
with a wide outlook on all the elements of a perplex- 
ing problem, it may be asserted that the two cases are 
fairly on a par. In favour of the Jews was their 
greater temperance ; to their disadvantage was their 
adverse environment at this date. The excessive use 

^ Suicide among the Romaus throws little or no light upon the 
present subject ; having practically become a philosophic adieu to 
life. The act is, however, always inconsistent with a healthy, self- 
sufficient temperament. 

1 1 8 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

of stimulants in these Islands is confessedly re- 
sponsible for more than twelve per cent, of the 
existing cases of mental disease. But tlie trying 
surroundings of the Jews, social and political, could 
scarcely be less baneful, in this regard. The " occur- 
ring " cases must therefore be regarded as nearly 

2. The treatment of the 2^ossessed. — The Jewish 
methods were magical and irrational ; productive of 
much harm on the whole. That is part of the infor- 
mation conveyed in the parable of the demon return- 
ing reinforced by other seven, worse than himself 
(Matt. xii. 43-45). But the ill effects of the ancient 
methods acted in two directions. The rude empiri- 
cism of an ignorant age multiplied the numbers of 
the possessed. Injudicious treatment or neglect 
killed them off. The one factor balanced the other. 
Similarly, the beneficial effects of modern medicine 
act curiously in two directions. The scientific 
methods of to-day tend to the restoration of mental 
health and to a diminution in the numbers of the 
insane and idiots. But rational treatment and care- 
ful nursing prolong lives formerly sacrificed by the 
lack of these advantages. The total, therefore, 
of " existing " cases stands somewhere about the 
old level. 

Where the factors of causation are so nearly identi- 
cal, and where countervailing elements in treatment 
produce almost similar results, the proportion of 
" existing " cases of mental diseases in those two 

Medical Asjjeds of Demonic Possession 119 

communities is practically the same. If so, then the 
following results accrue : — 

Census returns for the British Isles (1891) — 

Total Population . . . 37,888,153 
Insane and Idiots . . . 115,641 

Estimated returns for Palestine {circa 30 a.d.) — 

Total Population . . . 4,000,000 

Insane and Idiots . . . 12,000 

That seems to be the nearest possible approximation 
to the numbers of the possessed in the time of onr 
Lord. The application of the proper technical 
formulae would readily disclose the average number 
cured within any given period. But such an attempt 
would be useless ; because the healing of the possessed 
neither proceeded at a uniform rate, nor was it com- 
pleted. Christ had at one time the assistance of the 
Twelve ; and at another, the aid of the Seventy. Help 
was thus placed within the reach of all. Yet large 
numbers at a later date resorted to the Apostles in 
Jerusalem for the cure of such ailments (Acts v. 16). 
That fact, coupled with the representations of the 
Gospels, seems to corroborate the foregoing estimate 
of the numbers of the demonised in Palestine in the 
time of our Lord.^ 

^ The Jews of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt alone were reckoned 
at many millions. Being in very close touch with their brethren in 
the home-land, they were doubtless aware that ' ' a great prophet " had 
arisen in Galilee. But their contribution to the number of the de- 
moniacs cured by Christ must have been small, if any. The difficulties 
in tlie way of bringing such patients so far were enormous. Perhaps 

120 Demonic Possession in the Nevj Testament 


The physical basis of the " demoniac state " has 
been shown to be " lunacy or idiocy." We have now 
to consider how natural the ancient theory of pos- 
session was. The demonstration need not proceed 
beyond the three typical cases. 

1. Epileptic insanity. — During his convulsive 
seizures, the person seems to be throttled by an 
unseen foe, as he writhes and foams on the ground. 
During the fury of his maniacal excitement, conduct 
and character seem to have wholly changed. There 
is also an air of purpose and method in those out- 
bursts of fury and destructiveness, which bespeaks a 
guiding agency. At the end of this abnormal state, 
the patient may have no remembrance of wliat has 
transpired, or he may give an erroneous account of 
himself. What simpler explanation of the matter, 
then, than that of the untutored mind ? A demon 
has entered into the person, overpowering his soul, 
and compelling the members of the possessed to do 
its wicked will. 

2. Acute mania. — The personality is here also 
changed ; the thoughts, affections, and activities being 

the heathen contributed more than those Jews to the multitudes of 
the demonised. There is the case of the Syro-Phoenician girl ; possibly 
also that of the Gerasene. At least, Josephus calls the adjacent 
Gadara "a Hellenistic city." The natives of Decapolis, who in 
characteristic phrase, "glorified the God of Israel," may have witnessed 
the cure of the possessed in their midst ; among the "many others" 
(Matt. XV. 30). 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 121 

disordered. Memory is dislocated. The person is 
out of harmony with his surroundings. He becomes 
indifferent to social customs and established usages ; 
sometimes so violently hostile to them that he prefers 
wild solitude. He seems to have entered the society 
of invisible beings ; holding ghostly conference with 
them ; seeing what no other sees ; hearing what no 
other hears ; now crouching in dread before his 
spectral foes ; now shouting out defiance ; now re- 
lentlessly mutilating himself. What other inter- 
pretation can the unscientific mind put on these 
proceedings than demonic possession ? 

3. Epihptic idioey. — The epileptic seizures are 
evidently the work of a wicked spirit. If the con- 
dition has begun early in life and is constantly 
progressing, then it is plain that the demon has been 
gaining the upper hand and usurping the body of 
its victim. If the attacks are severe and frequent, 
then it is evident that the " demon hardly departeth"; 
every fresh attack being a new onset of the foul 
demon ; every cessation of the symptoms a departure 
of the assailant. Attempts at suicide are clearly the 
efforts of the malignant demon to destroy the life 
of the possessed. The simplest explanation is the 
primitive one. The person is demonised ! 


Evil and unclean spirits are sometimes " spirits of 

122 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

the tombs," ^ " spirits of foul places," " spirits of un- 
clean diseases," " sonls of the wicked dead." But in 
connection with the demoniacs, this nomenclature has 
evidently a significance of its own. On ethnic prin- 
ciples, the conduct of the possessed was the clue to 
the character of the possessing demon. The use of 
the preceding descriptive terms arises naturally out 
of the circumstances ; and remembering that the 
physical basis of the demoniac state is lunacy or 
idiocy, a further study of the subjects of those 
derangements at once discloses the rationale of the 
designations, " evil " and " unclean." Esquirol declared 
that moral alienation is the proper characteristic of 
mental derangement ; adding that though " there are 
madmen in whom it is difficult to find any traces of 
hallucinations, there are none in whom the -passions 
and the moral affections are not perverted or de- 
stroyed." These propositions may not command un- 
limited assent ; but they represent the facts of a very 
wide experience, and help us now. A consideration 
of the three typical cases explains and justifies the 
use of the terms under consideration. 

1. The demoniac of Capernaum. — His outburst of 
epileptic insanity was preceded by a certain amount 
of mental deterioration, shown in his aimless wander- 
ings which implied inability to discharge the duties 
of his position, and loss of interest in his occupation. 
In cases of this sort, memory becomes defective ; the 
temper is liable to exacerbations of violence or homi- 

^ See note on Sauli, Ql)h. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic I^ossession 123 

cidal fury. The finer sensibilities are impaired ; low 
tastes or nasty habits are contracted. Eeligious 
monomania may coexist with erotomania. As the 
case advances to its worst, brutish instincts tend to 
predominate, and the very physiognomy may assume 
a brutal aspect. With such crass comminglings of 
religion and repulsiveness, the terms " evil " and " un- 
clean " are sadly significant. 

2. The demoniac of Gerasa. — This man, prior to 
his being healed, was in a most deplorable state. His 
normal memory was gone ; his sense of propriety had 
vanished. He was quite unfit for the society of his 
fellows, and sought a congenial abode in the place of 
uncleanness. But things still worse were present. 
There was his delight in odious nudity, and his 
horrid self -mutilations. In him, as in others of his 
class, the moral sense is largely suppressed ; the 
result being that brutish impulses become regnant. 
Through all these phenomena of degradation, physical, 
mental, and moral, there appears to have run, as so 
often under such circumstances, a strain of religious 
fervour. The terms " evil " and " unclean " are there- 
fore most unfortunately in place. 

3. The idiot hoy. — The welfare of maturer years 
presupposes the acquisition of correct habits in child- 
hood. The early onset of the boy's illness may have 
prevented him from surmounting the normal in- 
firmities of infancy. To these initial defects, others 
would be added in the course of years. Where the 
primary instincts are distorted or depraved or sup- 

124 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

pressed, the rudiments of a sound morality are 
wanting. Under those conditions, the impulses of 
youth are likely to defy the decencies of life. The 
instability of temper and the tendency to violence, 
common to epileptic idiots, are not to be lost sight 
of. What piteous emphasis is thrown into the appeal 
of the despairing father : If thou canst do anything, 
pity us and help us ! In the lurid background are 
the spectres, " evil " and " unclean." 


Having discussed the raison d'etre of the preceding 
terms, their natural sequel now claims attention, 
namely, the responsibility of the demonised. On 
ethnic principles, these unfortunates were supposed, 
through some fault or other, to have given occasion 
and opportunity to the demons to enter them. They 
were therefore answerable for their incipient condition 
as well as for its continuance. But the demoniacs 
were either lunatics or idiots, whose mental defects, 
according to the teaching of modern science, were a 
bar to their being held responsible for their doings. 
Insanity or idiocy is ahoays a devolution. The higher 
centres of the brain are enfeebled, while the lower are 
more or less unchecked in their operation. Lunatics 
and idiots, being mentally below par, cannot be held 
responsible for their behaviour. 

Was that also the opinion of Christ ? Some have 
attributed to Him another view, JSTo one emphasised 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 125 

moral responsibility more than He. With a keen out- 
look upon men and the facts of disease, He asserted 
at times a connection between the sufferer and his 
sins, in a tone which could not be misunderstood. To 
the man sick of the palsy He said, Courage, child, 
thy sins be forgiven thee (Matt. ix. 2). To the man 
at the pool of Bethesda He said, See, thou art now 
well ! Sin no more, lest a worse thing happen unto 
thee (John v. 14)! The hideous physical and moral 
disabilities of the possessed could not be hidden from 
Christ ; yet He never once hinted that they were 
monsters of iniquity, who were receiving the due 
reward of their deeds. He healed them of His 
own accord ; dismissing them without reproach or 
rebuke. He regarded them evidently as beyond 
the common rule ; and in this respect, His attitude 
towards those demoniacs was in perfect accord 
with the highest requirements of science and 


This subject is really encyclopaedic ; and a meagre 
sketch of the same must suffice. Only a few typical 
methods can be adverted to, which were used either 
singly or in combination. 

^ It is hardly possible to take Olshausen, Trencli, aud others, 
patiently, when they affirm that Christ required even from the pos- 
sessed a declaration of their fiiith in Himself. It was not a fact ; 
because it was not a possibility ! 

126 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

A, Jewish methods of treatment 

1. Coaxing demons. — This method implies a timor- 
ous attitude towards the demons, rather inconsistent 
with the grandiose claims of the exorcists. It was 
however not uncommon. In the case of Saul, it 
took the form of music. Justin Martyr notes it in 
connection with adjuration. " Now assuredly, your 
exorcists make use of art when they exorcise, even as 
the heathen do ; employing fumigations of incense and 
incantations." ^ 

2. Disgusting demons. — The case of Sarah, the 
daughter of Eaguel, is of great interest, whether 
regarded as a case of obsession or possession ; the 
treatment being the same. Eaphael, the angelic 
comrade of Tobias, has a fine conception of the mal- 
odorous. He advises that the heart and liver of the 
magic fish be laid upon the embers of ashes. The 
fumes from the putrid remains of the fish must have 
been outrageously irritating (sulphuretted hydrogen, 
acrolein, etc.), — " fiend-smiting " and " most healing " ; 
amply sufficient to drive Asmodreus " post to Egypt," ^ 
or anywhere else. In Tanchuma 70, fumigations are 
also mentioned. 

3. Terrorising demons. — Josephus affirms that he 
was witness of the performance of Eleazar, before the 
Emperor Vespasian and his army ; when the exorcist 
put a ring that had a root of one of the sorts men- 
tioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demonised 

1 Dial, iciih Tnjpho, Ixxxv. - Tob. viii. 2. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 127 

(BaifiovL^o/jbivov) ; after which he drew out the demon 
through the nostrils. When the man fell down instantly, 
he adjured the demon to return into him no more ; 
still mentioning the name of Solomon, and reciting 
the incantations he composed. The root referred to 
is, no doubt, that which our author elsewhere calls 
" baaras," whose colour was like that of a flame ; 
emitting towards evenmg a ray like lightning. The 
root could only be got by magical means, one of 
which involved the death of the dog yoked to it. 
The sole value of the plant depended on its anti- 
demonic properties.^ It is really the mandrake (Man- 
dragora verncdis). A little imagination with a little 
manipulation soon discovers in the root the semblance 
of a man ; so that Semitic and Aryan races have 
deemed it the home of a spirit and possessed of 
supernatural qualities. Pliny gives the Latin rite for 
gathering the plant {H. N. xxv. 94).^ He knew that 
it possessed certain soporific and anaesthetic powers. 
The practice and the outfit of Eleazar are of great 
interest ; because they clearly show the relation of 
Jewish demonology and exorcism to ethnic principles 
and customs. 

"^ Ant. viir. ii. 5. Cf. B. J. vii. vi. 3. The name "baaras" may 
have two references — 

1. Burning, — n-ij'3 : in reference to its red and white flowers. 

2. Stupid, — nyn : in reference to its anresthetic and soporific pro- 

perties. The folk-lore of Shakespeare included the mandrake — 

The insane root that takes the reason prisoner. Macbeth. 
Give me to drink maudragora. Antony and Cleopatra, 
Not poppy nor mandragora. Othello. 

128 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

(a) The ring. — This plays the part of the magic 
pentacle in the extraction of demons. Liician, in his 
Fhilopseudes, mentions an iron ring, obtained from 
a gibbet, as used for a similar purpose. Among 
Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, and others, spirits 
were supposed to enter the interior by the mouth or 
nostrils. The ear-ring was originally the nose-ring, 
designed to guard these portals. The former remains 
as an ornament ; the latter has disappeared in the 
West, owing to adverse climatic influences. Eleazar, 
in imitation of Solomon, had his ring probably 
engraven with the Ineffable Name ; so rendering it 
super-potent against all demons. 

(b) The root. — This really included the whole plant 
(B. J. VII. vi. 3). Pliny, in the passage already 
cited, says that the odour of the mandrake was so 
potent that it sometimes struck persons dumb. It 
was inherent mainly in the root and the fruit. The 
application of the plant to the nostrils brought its 
powerful odour into operation ; and at the same time 
utilised the bright colour of its flowers. 

(c) The ineanfation. — Eleazar was not content with 
an appeal to the senses of smell and sight. He 
appealed also to the sense of hearing ; making use of 
the rubric ascribed to Solomon. This reference to a 
" Past-Master " of the black art and the use of his 
incantations reminded the possessing spirit of the 
triumphs of the king over " the prince of male 
demons." The success of these menaces is as little 
to be doubted as their alleged authorship. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 129 

B. Ethnic parallels to Jewish methods 

The demonology of the Greeks/ and their scientific 
system of medicine/ claim a place of their own. The 
treatment of the insane among this people is sur- 
prising for its excellence and its effectiveness. The 
sufferer was a patient, labouring under mental disease, 
whose relief v)as to he accomplished hy rational thera- 
peutics. But among other pcoijles, the sufferer was the 
hold of an unclean spirit, which had to he dislodged 
hy magical processes. In the West, the foundations of 
scientific medicine were already laid in observation 
and experiment. In the East generally, professional 
lore was but superstition systematised. In these 
matters, the Jews were simply at the ethnic stand- 
point ; only more humane. The following parallels 
are proof. 

1. Coaxing demons. — Evil spirits are still soothed 
by the burning of incense in India and China. Music 
is also a recognised mode of effecting the same end. 
The offering of savoury foods for the pleasuring of 
demons has still its advocates. Tylor cites an excel- 
lent instance of the same, in the case of a Bengalee 
cook, who was seized with an apoplectic fit. His wife, 
among other things, laid out little heaps of rice, saying, 
Oh, ride him not ! Ah, let him go ! Grip him not 
so hard ! Thou shalt have rice ! Ah, how good it 
tastes ! Among certain savage races, evil spirits are to 

^ Appendix F, Greek Demonology. 
- Appendix G, Greek Medicine. 

130 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

be extracted by stroking, sucking, licking, or caressing 
the person of the possessed. 

2. Disgusting demons. — This implies an appeal to 
the senses of smell and taste. On the theory that 
a demon has been inhaled or swallowed, this method 
is obvious, and of easy application. Apuleius mentions 
the use of " artemisia," an aromatic plant, extolling 
also " aristolochia" for fumigations. Serenus Samonicus 
notes that " villainous odours often cure the insane." 
The concoction of " hell-broths " requires but little 
more ingenuity. The Babylonians had reduced the 
preparation of these to a fine art. Brecher mentions 
mixtures of wood, snake, mead, and raw flesh ; tree 
root and dog's tongue ; sheep's heart, skin, herbs, and 
reed. The Eomans, according to Pliny {H. N. passim), 
were not less ingenious in the making of things loath- 
some to smell and taste. Not one whit behind the 
chief of exorcists are the witches of Macbeth — 

Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the caldron boil and bake : 
Eye of newt, and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, 
Adder's fork, and blindworm's sting, 
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing, 

These substances, powerfully odorous or fearfully 
nauseous, by their very loathsomeness to the senses of 
smell and taste, must often have produced violent 
emetic or drastic effects. The result would be an 
occasional success, in cases of epilepsy and hysteria ; 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 131 

sometimes even of insanity. Thus, the art of the 
exorcist would perpetuate itself, and plunge still more 
deeply into tlie vile and the loathsome, for the ejection 
of demons. 

3. Terrorising demons. — This was vii'tually an appeal 
to the further senses of the demonised, — to hearing, 
sight, and touch. These had their respective functions 
to fulfil. 

3a. Terrorising hy menacing ttwds. — The adjuration 
is the simplest of all methods ; but as the fancy or the 
need of the exorcist directed, the appeal was made to 
various parties. 

A. The gods might he direetly invoked. — The ancient 
Egyptians applied to Thot, the Master of the Magic 
Formula, skilled in the fears, the infirmities, and the 
ritual, which dominated all superhuman beings. The 
magician being partner in this lore, was the equal of 
Thot ; and from the utmost bounds of space could 
summon the mightiest of the mighty, against mischiev- 
ous spirits. In like manner the Babylonians appealed 
to the gods of heaven, specially to Merodach, Gibil, 
and Ea. Of this trinity, Ea was the most powerful ; 
being lord of spirits. Justin Martyr says to Trypho, 
Though you Jews exorcise any demon in the name of 
those who were among you — either kings, or righteous 
men, or prophets, or patriarchs — it will not be subject 
to you. But if any of you exorcise it in the name of 
the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, it will 
perhaps be subject to you {Dialogue, c. 85). To the 
same effect is the testimony of Origen, who says that 

132 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

" many of those who give themselves to the practice 
of conjuring demons, employ in their spells the expres- 
sion, 'God of Abraham'; though they do not know who 
Abraham is. And the same remark applies to Isaac 
and Jacob and Israel ; which names, though confessedly 
Hebrew, are often introduced by those Egyptians who 
profess to produce some wonderful results by their 
incantations" {Contra Celsum, i. 22). 

B, The sujjerior demons miglit he directly invoked. — 
After Ea had been confounded with Mul-lil, lord of 
spirits and ruler of the under-world, appeals to this 
" prince of demons " for the ejection of lesser demons, 
became current. At the present day in China, the 
same idea holds sway. Where the native doctor fails 
to cast out a demon, spiritualists are called in. A 
charm is written out and then burnt, that it may 
reach any spirit hovering about. Incense is also 
burnt. If no name is written on the paper, the 
nearest demon accepts the invitation to eject his 
feebler congener. The first comer may offer " a 
robustious and rough oncoming " ; so that another 
charm is prepared, and inscribed to Lu-tou, a more 
facile demon. These are instructive illustrations of 
one satan casting out another. This pagan rite was 
Christianised, when the angels were invoked instead of 
the superior powers of evil {Clem. Homil. v. 5). 

C. Tlie infesting siyirit might he directly menaced. — 
The Jewish adjuration addressed to the demon of 
epilepsy is a fine sample of " a railing accusation " : 
tliou demon that art hidden, thou son of foulness, 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 133 

thou son of abomination, thou son of uncleanuess, be 
thou cursed, crushed, anathematised, as Schmagas, 
Marigas, Istemaa (Shab. Bab. 67a). Words were 
often used, devoid of any significance, save perhaps to 
the demons thus menaced. Plutarch relates that the 
magi advised the demonised to read and repeat the 
" Ephesian Letters" when alone {Sympos. vii. 5). 
These words were said to have been uttered with 
great effect by Croesus on the funeral pyre ; and were 
also said to have been used by an Ephesian wrestler, 
whom his Milesian antagonist could not overcome, till 
these " Letters " were removed from his ankle, when 
the Ephesian was overthrown thirty times in succes- 
sion.^ The " Letters," often referred to, but never 
quoted, are cited by Clement of Alexandria and by 
Hesychius : — askion (darkness), kataskion (light), aix 
or lix (earth), tetrax (year), damnameneus (sun), aision 
(true). The Milesians had a similar set of words for 
the plague-demon : — bedu, zaps, chthon, plectron, 
sphinx, knaxbi, chthyptis, phlegmon, drops. Lucian 
testifies also to the use of occult Hebrew and 
Phoenician names in his Pseudomantis. On a grade 
little inferior to the foregoing are the noisy demonstra- 
tions of the Indian " medicine-man," aided by drum 
and rattle, who barks the demon out of his patient. 

3&. Terrorising hy startling sights. — Here the appeal 
was to the sense of sight. Fire was commonly used 
in this connection ; and the rite became Christianised 
at an early date, when it was thought sufficient to 

^ Eustathius. Homer, Od. 24. 

134 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

warn the demons of the fire of hell in store for them. 
Exorcists have always sought to enhance their dignity 
by grotesque exhibitions and fantastic dress. The 
following quaint tale illustrates a regal method of 
imposing upon a stubborn demon. When Eameses xii. 
was suzerain over Mesopotamia, he met and married 
one of the daughters of a subject chief. At a later 
date, came a request to Egypt for a physician to cure 
the sister of the queen, who had become possessed of 
an evil spirit. A physician was sent ; but his best 
efforts were futile. Eleven years later, came another 
request ; this time not for a physician, but for a god, 
to heal the patient. Accordingly, the god Khonsu of 
Thebes was sent in his ark, taking some eighteen 
months on the journey. Confronted by the god, the 
demon cried out, Great god, that chaseth demons, I 
am thy slave, I will go to my place whence I came ! 
They sacrificed therefore to the spirit, and it went in 
peace. Bat the father-in-law of Eameses coveted this 
mighty god, and resolved to cheat the Pharaoh out of 
his property. This knavish design was frustrated by 
a dream, in which tlie chief saw Khonsu flying off to 
his own country in the form of a golden sparrow-hawk ; 
while the would-be thief was suddenly seized by ill- 
ness. Thus admonished again of the powder of the 
demon-compelling deity, the latter was returned, after 
an absence of some seven years from his Thcban 

^ Lenoi'iiiaiit, Anci'-nl Ilislory, i. ]>. 270 f. Maliafiy, ProJcgomena 
to Ancient Hisiory, }>. 300. 

Medical AsiKcts of Demonic Possession 135 

3c. Terrorising ty 'painful sensations. — Here the 
appeal is to cutaneous sensibilities. This method is 
heroic, and has been unhappily popular in all ages. 
Cyprian put the matter in its true ethnic form when 
he asserted that Christians were able to compel evil 
spirits, to overcome them, and to force them to confess 
what they were, by threats and rebukes ; and by harsh 
stripes, press them to depart ; to augment their punish- 
ment more and more, till they were forced to struggle, 
to lament, and to groan ; to beat them with stripes 
and to burn them with fire. These things were done 
upon the theory that they operated invisibly on the 
demons, and were manifestly a punishment to the 
possessing spirits.^ Among savage races, beating, 
squeezing, and kneading of the possessed are still 
common methods for expelling those baleful foes. 
Torture by fire is frequent. The Sumatrans enclose 
the possessed in a hut, which is then set on fire ; leav- 
ing the occupant to escape as best he can, — minvs 
his demon. In China, the thumbs of the demonised 
are tied together ; also the great toes. A pill is then 
placed at the root of the finger-nails, and another at 
the root of the toe-nails. These are kindled and kept 
in place till the flesh is deeply burned. During the 
process the demon cries out : I am going ! I am 
going at once ! I'll never dare to return ! Oh, have 
mercy on me this once ! I'll never dare to return ! 
In that country also, needles are not infrequently 
plunged into the tips of the fingers, likewise into the 

' Ujiisfic lo Duncdits. 

136 Demonic Possession in the Ncio Testament 

nose and the neck of the possessed, for the removal of 
the demon. 


It has been shown that between the Jewish and 
the ethnic doctrine of demons there is substantial 
agreement. Both bespeak a hoary antiquity. But 
the treatment of the possessed is only the practical 
application of current theories to individual cases. 
Harmony in regard to underlying principles, carries 
with it harmony in concrete methods. The preceding 
parallels are the demonstration of that essential agree- 
ment in therapeutic practices. The belief of the 
exorcist was that the demon was to be reached through 
the avenues of sense. By these channels, influence 
might be brought to bear upon the possessing spirit in 
the way of coaxing, or disgusting, or terrorising it ; the 
result being the dislodgement of the enemy and the 
restoration of the possessed. But it is to be very 
distinctly noted that the success of all these methods 
depended on the comparative soundness of the organs 
of sense.^ Given a fairly healthy organism, the possess- 
ing demon was open to assault through the medium 
of the senses, either singly or in combination. 

1. Through the sense of smell, hi/ fumigations, 
pleasant or odious. 

^ Wliere tlie sensory organs were but little affected, the illness was 
slight and likely to proceed to spontaneous cure. That result would be 
claimed by the exorcist as his ; hence the perpetuation of superstitions 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Poi^scssion 137 

2. Throwjh the sense of taste, hy " hell-broths," or 

vile mixtures. 

3. Through the sense of hearing, hy violent threats 

or withering abuse. 

4. Through the sense of sight, by fantastic or terrific 


5. Through the sense of touch, by the infliction of 

m anifold tort arcs. 
These circumstances are of special importance in 
clearing up the cases of the dumb demoniac, the blind 
and dumb demoniac, and the idiot boy. To the two 
former, is attached the charge of Christ conspiring with 
the prince of demous. In the light of the preceding, 
their former obscurity vanishes. 


The Gospels show that Christ's method was neither 
magical nor medical. The cures of Christ were 
effected quite apart from the popular superstitions of 
the East or the scientific methods of the West.^ He 
cured "by a word" (Matt. viii. 16), and "instantly" 
(Luke xiii. 13). If so, then the treatment of the 
possessed by Jesus was transcendental in character 
and attainment. But that is the very conclusion 
which a negative criticism has always deprecated. It 
has its philosophic inventory of things in heaven and 
earth, and aught beyond that is inconceivable. Its 
mood has changed for the moment. Where an older 
' Appendix G, Greek Medicine. 

138 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

scepticism once denied the miraculous with offensive 
assurance, a more recent rationalism gives effusively 
with one hand what it artfully removes with the 
other. A striking feature of the present situation is 
the concurrence of an ostentatious acknowledgment 
of the miraculous with a real negation of it. The 
psychological ex2)lanation is the grand instrument of the 
modern Naturalistic School. The views of its principal 
representativ^es demand consideration. 

1. Strauss attempts to explain the cure of the 
possessed by two remarkable canons. 

{a) The more strictly the malady was confined to 
mental derangement on which the word of Jesus might 
have an immediate moral influence, or to a comparat- 
ively slight disturbance of the nervous system, on 
which He would be able to act powerfully through the 
medium of the mind, the more possible was it for 
Jesus, " by a word " or " instantly," to put an end to 
such states. On the other hand, the more the malady 
had confirmed itself as a bodily disease, the more 
difficult is it to believe that Jesus was able to relieve 
it in a purely spiritual ^ fashion and at the first 

{h) To any extensive spiritual^ influence on the 
part of Jesus, the full recognition of His dignity as a 
prophet w\as requisite ; whence it follows that in 
districts where He had long had that reputation, 
He could effect more in this way than where He 
had it not. 

' Psycliolugical. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 1 '-5 9 

Strauss here contempktes three degrees or forms of 
the malady : (1) affecting the mind; (2) affectmg the 
nervous system ; (3) confirming itself as a bodily 
disease. Yet he regards possession as "a species of 
madness." But mental disease is not an entity, 
separable from the nervous system, or from the body. 
The brain is the organ of mind ; and mental disease 
has always a physical basis, the pathological traces of 
which are to be sought in the brain. To throw the 
prophetic character of Christ into the scale is most 
misleading ; for that, as will be shown, was not at all 
apparent to the possessed. Apart from the heated 
imagination of its author, this pathology of Strauss is 
purely " mytliical." 

2. Eenan holds that the disorders which were ex- 
plained by possession were often very trilling. " In 
our times, in Syria, they regard » as mad or possessed 
by a demon (these two ideas were expressed by the 
same word — medi/noun), people who are only some- 
what eccentric. A gentle word in such cases often 
suffices to drive away the demon. Such were, doubt- 
less, the means employed by Jesus. Who knows if 
his celebrity as an exorcist was almost spread without 
his knowledge ? Persons who reside in the East are 
constantly surprised to find themselves possessed of 
a great reputation as doctors, sorcerers, or discoverers 
of hidden treasures, without being able to account 
to themselves for the facts which have given rise to 
these strange fancies." 

Here again is a total lack of api)reciation of the 

140 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

gravity of the disorders, ]iianifested in the three 
typical cases of possession. Kenan's explanations are 
even less satisfactory than the pseudo-scientific canons 
of Strauss. Slight eccentricity may sometimes pass 
for possession in the East ; but to present such cases 
as genuine parallels to the three foregoing instances, 
described in detail Ijy the Evangelists, is to ignore the 
facts of observation. To call persons suffering from 
grave forms of epileptic insanity, acute mania, and 
epileptic idiocy, " only somewhat eccentric," is an 
abuse of language. To suggest that such would be 
cured by " a gentle word," betrays the profoundest 
ignorance of the ailments under consideration. 

3. Keim holds that it was the superstition itself, 
the superstitious idea of possession, and not any actual 
phenomenon, which formed the generative cause of 
the disease. In the cure of demoniacs, therefore, 
Jesus did not put foreign guests to flight ; but only 
freed an enslaved self-consciousness from the morbid 
dispositions and the melancholy with which the super- 
stition of the sufferers themselves, and of others, 
were w^ont to trammel men. If incantations, magic 
formulae, fumigations, anointings, and ablutions were 
conceivably beneficial to the insane, restoring them to 
health for a longer or shorter time ; then must we 
attribute much greater success to the impressions and 
influences produced and exercised by the person of 
Jesus, by His holy calm. His imposing confidence, and 
His authoritative word of command ; even without 
semi-magical formuhf. The influence of Jesus was 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 141 

brought to bear with triple energy upon the possessed, 
through His name in the mouths of the people, His 
look, and His authoritative utterance. Keim adds that 
modern science is unanimous in accepting this view 
of Christ's influence; Paulus, Schleiermacher, Hase, 
Neander, De Wette, Bleek, Winer, Strauss, Schenkel, 
Holtzmann, Weizsiicker, and others, being cited in this 

Medical experts liave still to learn that these autlior- 
itics are representatives of " modern science " ; wliatever 
their worth otherwise. It is natural that one w^ho finds 
the cause of possession in the mere superstitious con- 
ception, should laud psychical and moral agencies for 
the cure of such troubles. Yet even hallucinations 
and delusions have an organic basis ; and the cor- 
rection of the psychical processes attends the adjust- 
ment of the physical functions. The demoniacs of 
Keim are certainly not those of the Gospels; but fig- 
ments of his own imaghiation. His pseudo-scientific 
therapeutics are on a level with his imaginary 

4. Matthew Arnold asserts that " medical science 
has never gauged — never perhaps set itself to gauge 
— the intimate connection between moral fault and 
disease. To what extent, or in how many cases, what 
is called illness is due to moral springs having been 
used amiss, wdiether by being over-used or not being- 
used sufficiently, we hardly know, and we too little 
inquire. Certainly it is due to this much more than 
we commonly think ; and the more it is due to this. 

142 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

the more do moral therapeutics rise in possibility and 
importance. The bringer of light and happiness, the 
calmer and pacifier, or invigorator and stimulator, is 
one of the chiefest of doctors. Such a doctor was 
Jesus ; such an operator, by an efficacious and real, 
though little observed and little employed agency, upon 
what we, in the language of popular superstition, call 
the unclean spirits, but which are to be designated 
more literally and more correctly as the uncleared, 
unp^irified spirits, which came raging and madding 
before him." 

The litterateur, doubtless, finds more " sweetness " 
in the term " uncleared " ; but the scientist more 
" light " in its alternative — " unclean." Psychological 
medicine takes account of " moral causes " in the pro- 
duction of mental disorders ; but holds aloof from 
" moral springs," and allows to the former only a 
limited field of operation. In hke manner, it takes 
cognisance of moral treatment, in the prosaic form 
of rational discipline ; but has not yet generally, if 
at all, risen to the moral glorious term " moral 
therapeutics." These, however, are points of minor 
consequence. What we have to notice is the assertion 
of Matthew Arnold that " by an efficacious and real 
agency," " upon unpmified spirits," Jesus proved Him- 
self in such cases " the bringer of light and happiness, 
the calmer and pacifier, or invigorator and stimulator." 
In a word. He acted as " one of the chiefest of doctors." 
But that is essentially an under-statement. Take 
again the three typical cases of possession, which on 

Medical Asj^ects of Demonic Possession 143 

their physical side are instances of epileptic insanity, 
acute mania, and epileptic idiocy. If Jesns here 
operated " by an efficacious and real agency," then 
He cured those patients. Hence it follows, that He 
did what no other has ever been able to accomplish ; 
for we freely challenge the records of medicine to 
produce three similar cases of epileptic insanity, acute 
mania, and epileptic idiocy, where the cure was 
effected " by a word " and " instantly." He Who 
confessedly attained to such results is not merely "one 
of the chiefest of doctors," — He is indefeasibly the 
Chiefest ! In a sense wholly unique. He proved for 
those patients " the bringer of light and happiness, 
the calmer and pacifier, or invigorator and stimulator." 
It will be time enough to discuss the modus ojjcrandi 
of our Lord, when the followers of Arnold furnish us 
with a scientific definition of " moral springs," ^ and a 
complete system of " moral therapeutics." Till then, 
the student of science must regard these elegant dis- 
quisitions as superfluous verbiage. 

It is needless to go beyond these representatives 
of the Naturalistic School. Their fundamental mis- 
take is an inability to discover, or a refusal to recog- 
nise, the fact that mental diseases of a most formidable 
type can never be equated with simple eccentricity 

1 What had the idiot boy, whose illness dated " from childhood," to 
do with the excessive use or the disuse of "moral springs" ? Had the 
Gerasenes some fore-glimmerings of the value of "moral theraiieutics," 
when theytried to "tame" their demoniac (Mark v. 4) ? In Jerusalem 
the method was unknown or lightly esteemed, judging by the remark : 
He has a demon and is mad ! Why hear ye him ? 

144 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

or common hysteria. The pathological factors can 
neither be minimised nor dismissed. It remains, 
therefore, for the negative critics, either to acknow- 
ledge outright the supernatural success of Jesus or to 
renew their Sisyphean labours.^ 


Josephus relates that wiien Eleazar wished to 
demonstrate to the Emperor Vespasian and his army 
the ejection of a demon from his demoniac, he placed 
a cup or foot-bath, filled with water, a little in front 
of the spectators. The demon was charged to upset 
the vessel on his exit ; to furnish ocular demonstra- 
tion of his departure. The evil spirit, from fear or 
courtesy, complied with the injunction, to the satis- 
faction of all. Philostratus, in his Life of ApoUonius, 
tells how the sage discovered a demon in a young 
man, who laughed and cried, without apparent reason. 
The evil spirit, when disclosed, broke out into all the 
foul language used by people on the rack, and swore 
to depart for good. ApolloDius rebuked the demon 
as a master does a saucy, cunning slave ; bidding him 
depart. At once the spirit cried out and promised 
to go ; the proof of departure being the overturning 
of a certain statue. That was done accordingly, amid 
great uproar. The young man then woke up, as out 
of sleep, and thereafter amended his ways according 
to the precepts of Apollonius. A modern instance 

^ Appendix H, Testimonies to the success of Jesus. 

Medical Aspects of Demonic Possession 145 

of a similar sort is that recorded by Nevius, in his 
Demon Possession. It occurred in the house of one 
Chang, a Chinaman, in 1883. Different women of 
the family were demonised. Worship was demanded 
for the demons in their name ; but refused by Chang. 
Thereupon, food, clothing, and valuables were stolen 
in the most mysterious way. Furniture and dishes 
shook and rattled without perceptible cause ; fires also 
broke out without apparent reason and destroyed 
several buildings. On one occasion, two women were 
possessed. One of them set herself to the drinking 
of wine ; tossing her arms about, using strange lan- 
guage, and giving way to tears. A religious service 
was held by some Christians, at the conclusion of 
which the woman was lying unconscious or asleep.-^ 
After a time she woke up, and sought out her visitors 
who were still in the house. She said she had had 
a long sleep and was her old self again ; having had 
no idea of what had happened during her aljuormal 
state. " About this time, just before dark," there was 
a great commotion among the fowls and swine of the 
house, which continued for some time, and was be- 
lieved to he due to the entrance of the demons into 
them. We need not tarry over the credibility of 
these events ; but note that ethnic custom required 
tangible proof of the departure of possessing demons. 
The onlookers had to be convinced of the reality of 
success by spectacular results. How different the 
practice of our Lord ! He offered no ocular demon- 

1 Tipsy ? 

146 Demonic Possession in the Keiv Testament 

stration of the ejection of spirits. The stampede of 
the swine is no exception to that rule. Such a sign 
loould have been useless to the man under any circum- 
stances. If really cured, he had the witness in himself 
in the sense of restoration. If still uncured, no 
hecatomhs of swine would have convinced him that 
he was sane. The old hallucinations and delusions 
would have remained. In these cases, Jew and Greek 
and Chinaman trust to lying vanities ; but Christ is 
wholly superior to such devices. He effected the cure 
and left it to bear its own testimony. 


The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 

~DY placing the symptoms of the possessed alongside 
-*-^ of their modern parallels, it has been shown 
that all cases designated " demoniac " belong to the 
category of "Lunacy or Idiocy." But was there 
aught in these cases which went beyond the mere 
pathological phenomena ? Were there forms of 
possession with which real demons were directly con- 
cerned ? Two simple rules must guide this inquiry. 

(a) Whatever is explicable on the principles of 

modern science is to be regarded as natural. 

(b) Whatever is inexplicable on the principles 

of modern science is to be regarded as super- 

Corresponding to those axioms, two classes of the 
possessed emerge potentially. 

(a) Cases simply natural and not genuinely demonic. 

(&) Cases truly supernatural and genuinely demonic. 

The latter appear as a residual phenomenon ; tran- 
scending the former. As the issue may seem to turn 
here upon a single point, the real strength of the 
position is to be recognised. That introduces a new 

148 Demonic Possession in the Mew Testament 

There is no need to travel far afield, as the facts 
to hand have a cogency of their own. The narratives 
of the three typical cases are varied ; but at the 
same time, congruous and complementary. They 
afford clear testimony to the veracity of the different 

1. The Capernaum demoniac. — Keim says, " This 
incident did not happen." That dictum only proves 
that he has no eye for the luminous background 
which is patent to the expert alienist. The signi- 
ficance of the symptoms here described was not 
open to the spectators and reporters of this miracle. 
They merely narrated what they saw and heard ; 
interweaving the same with collateral events in the 
synagogue. But the product is the correct repre- 
sentation of a set of complex morbid phenomena with 
a complex local environment. Invention is entirely 
out of the question ; because it is so manifestly beyond 
the capacities of the writers or their informants. 
They are saved from inevitable blunders, only by 
faitliful delineation of an actual case of epileptic 

2. The Gcrascnc demoniac. — This example is equally 
instructive and reveals the same fidelity to fact. Here 
the symptoms are manifold and the details of time 
and place plentiful. The stampede of the swine is 
an integral part of the narrative which greatly com- 
plicates the whole situation. Yet it is in a precise 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 149 

and natural relationship to the cure of the possessed. 
The occurrence gave rise to a theory of the occur- 
rence ; but the objective phenomena are thoroughly 
in harmony with each other. That result is accom- 
plished only by unswerving adhesion to the concrete 
facts, in a manner which is wholly beyond the power 
of any literary artist who lacks either the training or 
the guidance of an expert in mental diseases. 

3. The idiot hoy. — His condition is set forth with 
large enumeration of features whose meaning was 
quite beyond the comprehension of the spectators ; 
such as the query about the onset of the illness, and 
the remark about the lad being cast " both into the fire 
and into the waters." The command of Jesus and 
the subsequent convulsions are essential parts also of 
one great whole, which is fitted together, not by art, 
but by precise attention to the solid facts. The close 
and necessary inter-connection of the diverse parts of 
this spectacle is not within the ken of the observers. 
Yet the Gospels furnish a consistent succession of 
events which could only be derived from an actual 
example of this ailment. 

The correlation of so many diverse elements in 
those three cases, in a manner which satisfies the 
highest scientific requirements, spontaneously produces 
the impression that we are here on the impregnable 
rock of solid fact. This is one of the most delicate 
tests of historicity which can be applied to the records 
under consideration. There are other arguments of 
a technical sort, whose nature, force, and relevancy 

150 Demonic Possession in the Xev: Testament 

may be ascertained from formal treatises on evidence. 
But the preceding test can stand by itself ; for it is 
minute, searching, complete, and decisive. It cannot 
be surpassed or superseded : for it eliminates the 
subjective factor which is the bane of historical 
criticism. It rests upon objective data, and stamps 
vrith authenticity, if not with inerrancy, the material 
subjected to it. The historicity of those narratives of 
possession is thus placed beyond conjecture. 


That is now discoverable from the Gospels them- 
selves — 

1. The Capernaum demoniac — 

The man in the unclean spirit said, I know Thee Who Thou 
art, the Holy One of God. Maik i. 24. Cf. Luke iv. 34. 

2. The Garasene demmiiac — 

He saith, What have I lo do -with Thee, Jesus, Son of God 
Most High ? Mark v. 7. Luke viii. 28. (Matt. viii. £9.) 

3. The general cases — 

He cast out many demons, and He suffered not the demons 
to speak, because they knew Him. Mark i. 34. Cf. Luke 
iv. 41. 

And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down 
before Him, and cried, saying. Thou art the Son of Grod. And 
He rebuked them much that they should not make Him manifest. 
Mark iii. 11, 12. 

The confession of Jesus as the Messiah or Son of God 
is therefore the classical criterion of genuine demonic 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 151 


Tills phenomenon is without parallel anywhere. 
It therefore demands the most careful scrutiny. 
Attempts to explain it have usually ended in explain- 
ing it away. The following hypotheses really cover 
the whole ground : — 

1. Accident. — This theory recognises that in the 
case of the insane, the unexpected is that which 
happens. Their mental instability renders them 
extremely sensitive to external influences ; so that 
the issue is beyond prediction. Their freedom from 
conventionality of speech and imagination, and their 
tendency to refer their novel sensations and experiences 
to the mysterious but plastic element of religion, 
predisposes them to all manner of erratic things. But 
the confession of Jesus as the Messiah is not an 
accident. This striking feature is manifested under 
the most diverse circumstances, by different persons 
who suffer from different types of mental disease. 
This strange constancy among a class notorious for 
caprice and inconsequence is the condemnation of any 
theory of accident. 

2. Clairvoyance. — This we may call the theory of 
Lange; who does not define his terms. He declares 
that the nervous and insane subjects of our time, as 
well as the demoniacs of the Gospels, are capable of 
divining the disposition and intention of persons 
around them, by an intensified power of foreboding. 
They are in a morbid state of psychical agitation and 

152 Demonic Possession in the Nev) Testament 

iu closer affinity to the psychical movements of by- 
standers than healthy persons ; having specially an 
extraordinary sensitiveness to states of mind which 
are in contrast to their own. And as clairvoyantcs 
can be disturbed by the nearness of impure persons, 
so demoniacs and lunatics often become excited by 
the approach of saintly persons. They feel the opera- 
tion of a power which even at a distance comes into 
collision with their own, and presses punitively on the 
secret consciousness of psychical terror with which 
commonly their state of bondage is connected. That 
the demoniacs were the first to proclaim Jesus as 
Messiah, may be accounted for, by the activity and 
perceptive vigour of their intensified power of fore- 
boding, which brought them into a peculiar relation 
with the consciousness of Christ and with the secret 
thought of their own time. Such is Lange's theory. 
The truth or falsehood of clairvoyance is immaterial 
to the issue on hand. What is " intensified power of 
foreboding " ? Whatever else it may stand for, in this 
sample of obscurantism, it clearly implies a concentra- 
tion of attention. But that is the very point wherein 
the insane are specially defective. It is not at all too 
much to say that even believers in modern spiritualism 
would have found the intense mental disturbances 
of the demoniacs of Capernaum and Gerasa, an in- 
superable obstacle to the conditions supposed to be 
necessary for clairvoyance. Eeactions produced on 
lunatics by the mere presence of saintly persons are 
the wildest fancies. This theory of clairvoyance is in- 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 153 

effably impossible as an explanation of the recognition 
of the Messianic dignity of Jesus by the demonised. 

3. Vei'hal information. — The question before us 
touches the possible sources of information. Jesus 
Himself could not have been the informant ; because 
He uniformly and vehemently repelled the testimony 
proffered by the demoniacs. His attitude determined 
that of the Apostles in this matter ; whatever their 
private hopes or convictions might have been thus 
far. These did not receive formal expression till 
late in the ministry of our Lord, at Ciesarea-Philippi 
(Matt. xvi. 13—20). On that occasion also the 
strictest silence was enjoined upon the disciples. Nor 
could the information have been derived from persons 
outside of the circle of Jesus, because, up to the 
moment of Peter's confession, public opinion had not 
ventured beyond the timid conjecture that Jesus 
might be Jolm the Baptist risen from the dead, or 
Elias, or Jeremias, or one of the prophets (cf. Matt, 
xvi. 14). Any authoritative declaration from any 
external source was not available for the information 
of the possessed. Yet their confessions of Jesus as 
Messiah are coincident with the beo-innintr of the 
ministry of Christ, and are made without reserve or 
hesitation. Truly, flesh and blood had not revealed 
this secret unto them. 

4. Genuine discrimination. — This theory has found 
considerable favour where the recognition of Jesus is 
regarded as the resultant of the Messianic hope and 
the impression ])roduced by the august personality of 

154 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

Christ. " The Messianic hope was immanent in the 
hearts of the Jewish people, ever ready to break forth 
into expression, and it was quite to be expected that, 
when the Messiah came, among the first to recog- 
nise Him should be those diseased in their minds, 
especially those whose thoughts moved within the 
religious sphere. Insanity is much nearer the king- 
dom of God than worldly-mindedness. There was, 
doubtless, something in the whole aspect and manner 
of Jesus which was fitted to produce almost instantane- 
ously a deep spiritual impression to which children, 
simple, ingenuous souls like the Galilean fishermen, 
sinful yet honest-hearted men like those who met 
at Matthew's feast, readily surrendered themselves. 
Men with shattered reason also felt the spell, while 
the wise and strong-minded too often used their 
intellect, under the bias of passion or prejudice, to 
resist the force of truth. In this way we may 
account for the prompt recognition of Jesus by the 
Gadarene demoniac. All that is necessary to explain 
it is the Messianic hope prevalent in Gadara as else- 
where, and the sight of Jesus acting on an impression- 
able spirit. The view of the Blessed One acting on 
the remnant of reason drew the poor sufferer to His 
presence in instinctive trust and expectation of benefit. 
The same view acting on the dark element produced 
repulsion and fear. Hence the self-contradictory 
attitude, as of one saying, It is the Christ ; He is 
come to save me ; He is come to destroy me." ^ 

^ Bruce, MiraciiJous Element, p. 187. 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 155 

Certain things here are really preposterous ; ^ 
certain others are to be freely admitted ; such as the 
impressiveness of the person of Jesus, and the wide 
prevalence of the Messianic hope. The latter may 
even have crossed the seas to an alien race.- But 
the bearing of these things on the sane is one thing, 
and on the insane (demonised) is quite another. 

The Messianic hope was both variant in form and 
complex in character. Jewish literature, canonical 
and extra-canonical, reveals different types of it. But 
that hope, wherever found, was in essence a mental 
image of " The Coming One," projected into the near 
future, as the object of the national desire. The 
image, however, was not innate. It was the product 
of education. Its initial development in the case of 
those whose early years were severely marred by 
mental disease was an impossibility. 

Supposing even that the image of the Messiah had 
been duly fixed in the mind, there was always the 
risk that through the accident of mental disease, it 
might be obscured, or distorted, or blotted out. It is 
notorious that such an event affects the mental land- 
marks ; denuding some, destroying others, and more 
or less confounding the whole. The demoniacs of 
Capernaum and Gerasa may have at one time shared 
the hope of the nation. If so, that hope was not at 
all operative on their encounter with Jesus. The 

1 Appendix I, Fallacies. 

" See Suetonius, Vexp. 4. Tacitus, Hid. v. 13. Cf. Joseplius, B. J. 
VI. V. 4. 

156 Demonic Possession in the Xeio Testament 

suspension of memory, judgment, and susceptibility, 
so prominent on those occasions, was wholly incon- 
sistent with the recognition of Jesus as Messiah, in the 
manner suggested. The vast incoherences, contra- 
dictions, and confusions of their mental life, thoroughly 
disqualified the possessed for such discrimination. 

5. Demonic inspiration. — The preceding theories 
cover the whole field of what can be called the human 
and the natural. Their rejection logically carries us 
into the sphere of the superhuman and the super- 
natural. The agency behind these ostentatious con- 
fessions of the Messianic dignity of Jesus, was 
evidently hostile. That is implied in their vehement 
rejection on the part of Christ. Such disclosures 
were really dangerous to the person of the King and 
the establishment of His kingdom. They were an 
incitement to the populace to precipitate a crisis with 
the Eoman authorities. Any day there might arise 
an attempt to make Jesus a king ; creating thereby 
an intolerable situation. These proclamations from 
the unseen world were also misleading. Moral pro- 
gress must proceed accordmg to moral principles. 
Confessions of Jesus as Messiah which failed to do 
justice to His ethical claims upon humanity might 
create excitement, but not faith. Such testimonies 
were not more embarrassing than mischievous. Their 
intent was malicious ; their source was tainted. 
There is no escape from the simple statement of the 
Evangelist, that " the demons knew that Jesus was the 
Christ" (Luke iv. 41). Once we find our Lord refer- 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 157 

ring to David as speaking " in the Holy Spirit " (]\Iark 
xii. 36); i.e. "inspired by the Holy Spii'it." The 
same Evangelist notes that the demoniacs of Caper- 
naum and Gerasa were " in an unclean spirit " (Mark 
i. 23, V. 2). By parity of reasoning, therefore, we 
conclude that the confessions emanating from the 
mouths of the possessed were due to demonic in- 


The preceding investigation has brought into clear 
litrht two distinctive characteristics of genuine 
demonic possession. 

1. Insanity or idiocy of some sort, forming the 

natural element. 

2. The confession of Jesus as Messiah, forming the 

supernatural element. 
The former is established on scientific grounds and 
cannot be shaken ; the latter on exegetical, and equally 
invincible. This confession is a residual phenomenon 
which is not reducible by any means to the purely 
natural. Where this classical criterion is found, there 
we postulate without hesitation, the activity of an 
evil spirit. To this category belong the cases of the 
demoniacs of Capernaum and Gerasa ; with the general 
cases similarly attested. But there remain other cases 
labelled " demoniac," where this criterion is not men- 
tioned. At this stage, then, we recognise two classes 
of the possessed in a tentative manner. 

158 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

1 . Those manifesting the natural features of mental 

disease, coupled with the supernatural feature 
of the confession of Jesus as Messiah. 

2. Those manifesting the natural features of 

mental disease, without report of the super- 
natural feature of the confession of Jesus as 
Does the absence of the report of the confession 
denote the non-existence of that confession ? Presum- 
ably that is the case. No one has ever suggested that 
the writers of the New Testament aimed at belittling 
the power of Christ. Tlie opposite is often asserted. 
But this confession of Jesus was a feature surprisingly 
novel, and absolutely unique. It could not fail to be 
profoundly impressive to memory and imagination. 
Is it conceivable that such a striking phenomenon 
should have been overloooked or suppressed ? We 
may hold, then, that the absence of the record of 
confession denotes the real absence of the same. But 
we are not left to mere presumption or conjecture. 
Several instances corroborate this view of the 

(a) The idiot hoy. — The illness of this lad antedated 
the ministry of Christ. The father described a series 
of symptoms which had persisted with painful 
regularity from childhood onwards. These, neither 
more nor less, according to the narrative, were wit- 
nessed by Jesus when the patient was brought for 
cure. The symptoms thus enumerated or witnessed 
are such as are purely natural ; being readily matched 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 159 

by others in the present day. They present nothing 
inexplicable on the principles of scientific pathology. 
There is nothing corresponding to the criterion of 
genuine demonic possession. 

Further, as the lad was dumb, it is not possible to 
see how a demon could utilise him for perverting the 
minds of the spectators. What testimony could be 
borne to Jesus otherwise than by articulate speech ? 
The sudden scream, the violent fall, the writhing 
limb, the ghastly aspect of one as dead, could have no 
theological significance whatever. Distinct utterance 
was the only weapon wherewith a demon might 
adversely disclose the Messianic dignity of Jesus. 
Other movements could not be thus construed. So 
the lad was useless for the end in view. We therefore 
conclude that the absence of any report of the confes- 
sion of Jesus as the Christ, points to the exclusion 
of this case from the category of genuine demonic 
possession. A confirmation of this view may be 
sought in the peculiar remark of Jesus, This kind 
(of thing) goeth forth by nothing than by prayer 
(Mark ix. 29).i 

Q)) The Philippian Pythoness.- — Was there anything 
more than insanity here ? She followed Paul and his 
company, crying out, These men are servants of the 
Most High God who announce to you a way of 
salvation ! Is this the equivalent of the confession of 
the demoniacs of Capernaum and Gerasa ? At first 

^ See International Critical Commeiitarj^, in loco. 
- Appendix J, The use of popular language by Jesus. 

160 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

sight, that is credible ; but closer inspection of the 
narrative does not confirm that view. Her declaration 
contains elements that are of a neutral character, such 
as " Most High," and " salvation." The former term 
is really international, and applies to such deities as 
Jupiter and Baal. It appears even in the " Poenulus " 
of Plautus as an imported phrase — "Alonim valoniuth," 
" gods and godesses most high." ^ The term " salvation " 
has also a non-sectarian significance ; belonging to 
poetry, philosophy, politics, commerce, and common 
life. These words, if used by Paul, would be easily 
taken up by this woman ; and appear to be a blurred 
remembrance of words uttered by him. The recogni- 
tion of Paul as a servant of the Most High God was 
not immediate. That is to be expected of one who 
was weak of intellect ; not from one truly possessed 
of an evil spirit. The mental capacities of this person 
did not unfit her for picking up a few catchwords, 
such as " way," " salvation," and " announce." These 
were fused together in an incoherent manner, so that 
the combination was not distinctively Pauline ; though 
its parts might be such. In this proclamation, there 
does not seem to be anything inexplicable on natural 
principles, nor anything at all approaching the 
immediate and unhesitating confession of Jesus as 
Messiah, which is the criterion of genuine demonic 

Further, this woman belonged to the order of the 
Puthones {irvOoives:). Plutarch relates that they were 

1 vi. 1. 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 161 

formerly called Euriikleis (EvpvKX€t<;), after Eurukles, 
mentioned by Aristophanes. He was a famous 
ventriloquist, who was supposed to deliver true 
oracles. Galen notes that the ventriloquists 

(iyyaarpL/j^vOoL) were so called, because they spoke 
with their mouths shut, so as to seem to speak out 
of their belly. In any case, it is not feasible to rate 
this woman higher than a common ventriloquist or 
fortune-teller ; in whose case no genuine demonic 
activity is discoverable. Was Paul then mistaken 
when he charged the spirit to go forth ? It is possible 
that at this stage he was not fully emancipated from 
the traditions of the fathers ; but even that cannot be 
proved. Eabbinic custom permitted a certain amount 
of personification in the nomenclature of disease. 
Paul may have used an ethnic formula without en- 
dorsing ethnic doctrine.^ It is remarkable that in 
none of his Epistles does he refer to the ejection of 
evil spirits as one of the " gifts " {'xapia-fjiara) of the 
Church ; while the charisma of healing is repeatedly 
mentioned (1 Cor. xii. 9, 28, 30). Whatever view of 
the matter be now taken, we note that the woman 
was miraculously healed and the Name of Christ 

(c) Tlie Ephesian demoniac. — The extraordinary 
strength alleged to belong to this man is quoted as 
proof of demonic agency. But while he put to flight 
his would-be saviours with sovereign rage and con- 
tempt, supernatural strength is not demonstrable. 

' Appendix K, The deniouising of the heathen god.s. 

162 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

When operating in the presence of what was beheved 
to be a dangerous demon, Jewish exorcists were in a 
state of high nervous tension, ready to flee at the iirst 
approach of peril. Here we recall the tale of the 
Eabbi saved by the friendly cedar and similar stories. 
The dangers inherent in the treatment of the demonised 
were real, and here emerged with explosive violence. 
The hearty onslaught of this demoniac on those parties 
is no proof of superhuman vigour ; but an exhibition of 
portentous cowardice on the part of those miserable 

The mention of the names of Jesus and Paul is no 
indication of a supernatural knowledge. To begin 
with, the demoniac was in a quiescent state. He was 
not under bonds, but free to go abroad and shift for 
himself in some sort. That argues a capacity for 
receiving and retaining impressions of current events. 
Now the preaching of Jesus by the Apostle was the 
great topic of conversation in the city. Wherever 
this man might go, he was sure to hear of Jesus and 
of Paul. But even if he had no previous knowledge 
of this kind, these two names were put into his mouth 
by those exorcists : We adjure you by Jesus whom 
Paul preacheth ! The reply of the demoniac is an 
echo of that formula : Jesus I know, and Paul I am 
acquainted with ; but who are ye ? There is nothing 
here, then, corresponding to the confession of Jesus as 
Messiah by the demoniacs of Capernaum and Gerasa. 

The cases of the Syro -Phoenician girl, the dumb 
demoniac, the blind and dumb demoniac, and Mary 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 163 

Magdalene, need not be discussed. Presumably, if 
not certainly, they belong to the same order as the 
foregoing. By the application of the criterion of 
genuine possession, a twofold classification of the 
possessed has become possible — 

1. Cases self -attested and clearly supernatural. 

2. Cases not self-attested and simply natural. 
These two classes must have been very conspicuous 

to the contemporaries of Jesus. The first was ab- 
solutely novel and unique. The second class was 
commonplace. The " sons of the Pharisees " ^ dealt 
with the latter ; attaining a show of success. It is not 
necessary, with Pressense, Steinmeyer, and others, to 
deny thisy Their remedies were perhaps heroic upon 
occasion, and no doubt beneficial at intervals, because 
of their pungent, drastic, or emetic effects, in cases of 
hysteria, epilepsy, and mild insanity. Jesus acknow- 
ledged so much, and in doing so confirms the preceding 


1. In the cases " not self-attested," there seems to 
be an unwarrantable reduction of the miraculous. 
But that is not so ; for even where there is no more 
than the removal of physical disease, there is no dis- 
paragement of the power of Jesus to save unto the 
uttermost. He is adequate to every occasion. 

Members of the order ol' the Pharisees : I'U'nsri '33 ; like ' ' nieuibers 
of the order of the Elohim " : wrhan 'J3 

164 Demonic Possession in the Nev) Testame7it 

2. In the cases " not self-attested," there is a real 
enhancement of the authority and dominion of our 
Lord. There come into clear light two facts of 
immense importance, which have hitherto received no 
recognition — 

{a) The remarkable paucity of the cases " self-attested." 
{!)) The restriction of them to the earlier portion of 

Christ's ministry. 
Here then is proof that the demons did obey the 
injunction of Jesus that they should cease to " make 
Him manifest." They were already " muzzled." Here 
also is a demonstration that the " strong man " has 
been bound by the Stronger. 

3. This enables us to understand why certain cures 
of the demonised are put on a level with the healing 
of non-demonic ailments — 

In Thy Name have we not cast out demons, and in Thy Name 
done many mighty works ? Matt. vii. 22. 

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out 
demons. Matt. x. 8. Cf. Mark vi. 7. Luke ix. 2. 

In that hour He healed many of their diseases, and plagues, 
and evil spirits, and to many that were blind He granted sight. 
Luke vii. 21. 

Certain women wlio had been healed of evil spirits and 
infirmities. Luke viii. 2. 

Go ye and tell that fox : Beliold, I cast out demons and I do 
cures to-day and to-morrow. Luke xiii. 32. 

This classification of the demoniacs thus fully 
approves itself. The cases " self - attested " were 
clamorous and aggressive. The historical imagination 
can form but the feeblest conception of the powerful 
impression which demonic confessions were fitted to 

The Existence of (jemiine Demonic Possession 1 6 5 

produce on the minds of the contemporaries of our 
Lord. It was never so seen in Israel ; no, nor anywhere 
else ! That fact spontaneously determined a cleavage in 
the ranks of the possessed. 


Moral depravity has been generally cited as the 
precursor to the demoniac state. Proof of the same 
has been sought in the Beelzebul controversy, where 
the ejection of spirits is coupled with the overthrow 
of the kingdom of Satan. But that passage is not 
decisive in favour of this view. The kingdom of 
Satan has its physical as well as its ethical aspects, 
corresponding to the cases " natural " and " super- 
natural." The remark of Christ on the return of the 
Missioners carries us no further. The language of 
Jesus is highly pictorial : I beheld Satan as lightning 
fall from heaven. It is to be remembered that Christ 
offered Himself to men as the Healer of disease and 
the Vanquisher of sin ; so that the successful establish- 
ment of His kingdom involved the curtailment of the 
devil's power in both directions, though these processes 
do not advance j^aW passu. The ethnic theory always 
assumes fault of some sort on the part of the unfortun- 
ate sufferer. That idea appears in the early Church, 
and has maintained itself in some sort until the 
present day. 

The author of the Clementine Recognitions describes 

166 Demonic Possession, in the Nev Tcsfamcnf 

Simon Magus as one possessed and incurable ; " be- 
cause his sickness arises from his will and is become 
spontaneous," the demon not dwelling in him against 
his will (ii. 72). It is further asserted that a demon 
has no power against a person, unless one submit of 
his own accord to its desires (iv. 34). Likewise also, 
Origen declares that demons gain a lodgment in minds 
which have been already laid open to their entrance 
by intemperance {C. C. ill. iii. 2). Jerome likewise, in 
his Life of Hilarion, tells us that a maid, who had 
been cured by the saint, had before her possession, 
induced the demon to take up his abode within her, 
by her unseemly conduct. These ancient authors are 
all on the plane of the old-world superstitions, and it 
is needless to multiply evidence from this source. It 
is remarkable that these old pagan theories should 
reassert themselves in modern times, and should 
receive specific formulation from eminent theologians. 
The following are sufficiently representative : — 

John Lightfoot asserts that the demons were com- 
mon in the time of Christ above all the times of 
the Old Testament, and beyond any instances in any 
other nation. Whether this were due to the fact 
that the spirit of prophecy had so long departed from 
them (cf. 1 Sam. xvi. 14); or that the Lord would in 
justice confute the cursed doctrine of the Sadducees 
(cf. Acts xxiii. 8) by this dreadful experience ; or that 
He did evince His great displeasure against the sin- 
fulness and falsehood of those times which was now 
grown intense, by the delivery of so many to the 

The Existence of rjemmu Demonic Possession 1G7 

power of the father of sia and error ; or that He 
would by this painful experience read all men a 
lesson as to what a misery it is to be in the power 
and subjection of Satan, and so make them more 
intent to hearken after Him that was to break the 
Serpent's head ; or all these things together ; it cer- 
tainly did greatly redound to the honour of Christ 
and to the magnifying of His divine power, and did 
mightily prove that He had come to destroy the 
works of the devil, when, finding so many that lay so 
visibly under his power, He enlarged them all and 
brought them from under that power, and bound the 
strong man who could not resist Him.^ In another 
passage, the same author holds that the cause of the 
trouble was that the " Jewish people, having arrived 
at the very summit of impiety, now also arrived at 
the climax of those curses which are recited in Lev. 
xxvi. and Deut. xxviii." Further, this " nation beyond 
measure addicted to magic arts, did even affect devils 
and invited them to dwell with them." " 

Olshausen in his commentary on Matt. viii. 28-34, 
advocates a similar view. He says that the demoniac 
state presents psychical and physical features which 
always seem to presuppose some form of moral 
delinquency, " not so much as wickedness, properly 
speaking, but more as predominant sensuality (prob- 
ably lasciviousness in particular), indulged in con- 
trary to their better self," Hence a weakening of 

' Lightfoot, Horce Hcbraiccc, i. 639 (1684). 
- Ibid. ii. 175. 

168 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

the bodily organisation, specially the nervous system, 
due to such sinful indulgence. This reacts on the 
inner life, which suffers derangement, apparently pro- 
portionate to the former acuteness of conscience. The 
latter testifies against the demoniac, as to his personal 
responsibility and his inability to save himself from 
the fetters of sin and the kingdom of darkness, to 
whose influence he has resigned himself. In such 
cases there is, however, a desire for deliverance, 
a spark of hope and faith which makes the subjects 
of it susceptible to the powers of a higher life. This 
hope is expressed by all the demoniacs, and faith is 
the necessary condition of their healing. The indi- 
vidual consciousness of the possessed is suppressed or 
absorbed in the influence of the power of darkness, 
but returns to the surface. The condition is not 
therefore to be conceived as if two or more persons 
were contained in them. The hostile power may be 
alternately in the ascendant or in retreat. Demoniacs 
are very miserable, but not the most wicked of man- 
kind. Their state is distinguishable from that of 
those who are " decidedly wicked." In the former 
there is a contest against evil ; whereas in the latter, 
the hostile force has been admitted undisturbed and 
unopposed into the recesses of the heart. The first 
class is salvable ; the second is not. 

Dieringer, a Roman Catholic theologian, puts the 
matter thus. Fallen man is in inward sympathy 
with fallen spirits, and this inward affinity exposes 
him to their seducin^ and tormenting influence. The 

The Existence of genuine Demonic Pofisesdon 169 

extent to which this influence is exercised, depends 
on the moral self-assertion of the individual and the 
decree of God. The antecedents to possession proper 
are temptations, snares, besieging, blockade. These 
preliminaries are hostile influences to which all men 
are more or less exposed ; and possession occurs when 
the self-assertion of the human over against the 
demonic personality, present in the blockading, ceases ; 
so that the demonic force has appropriated the use 
of the bodily organs, and the soul appears to be in 
bondage. The latter is not destroyed but may reassert 
itself, when the possession reverts to obsession.^ 

Trench's views are practically those of Olshausen. 
He holds that the demoniac state presents a blending 
of the physical and the spiritual. Demoniacs are not 
merely great sufferers, but great sinners also ; " greatly 
guilty, though not the guiltiest of all men." Lavish 
sin and specially indulgence in sinful lusts, super- 
inducing a weakness of the nervous system, may have 
laid such sufferers open to the incursions of the 
powers of darkness. There is present in such cases 
a sense of misery, of the true life utterly shattered, 
of an alien power which has mastered them wholly 
and is ruling in the high places of their soul, having 
cast down the rightful lord. The demoniacs feel that 
by their own acts, they have given themselves over 
to the tyranny of the devil, so that his power is no 
longer outside of them as a power which they can 
successfully resist or from which they can save them- 
1 Delitzseh, Biblical Psychology, p. 351 f. 

170 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

selves. The demoniacs do not, however, acquiesce in 
their misery but cry for redemption, when a glimpse 
of hope offers ; and this yearning for deliverance 
makes them the objects and subjects of Christ's 
saving power. Otherwise, there would be nothing 
for the divine power to lay hold upon. Faith is 
the condition of their healing. While the individual 
consciousness may for a moment reassert itself, the 
foreign power forces itself upon the demoniac, taking 
possession of him so that he speaks and acts as its 
organ. Demoniacs are among the most miserable of 
men ; but not of necessity, the most guilty. They 
are distinguishable from " surpassingly wicked men," 
who with heart and will and waking consciousness, 
do the devil's work. In the latter case, there is a 
unity with evil and no cry for pardon.^ 

Weiss regards sin as the precursor of possession. 
" The radical matter of fact was simply this, that the 
sinful condition had reached a height where the man 
no longer had the mastery of sin, but sin of him ; and 
when sunk in his utter impotence, and possessing no 
will of his own, he yielded to the enslaving power of 
sin, this dominion is referred to a superhuman spiritual 
power w^hich held sway over him and deprived him 
of all volition." " What was most striking about the 
appearance of these so-called demoniacs was the con- 
junction with this yielding to Satan and the power of 
sin, of a state of disease whether of a psychical or 
bodily character, which is regarded as the result of 
^ Notes on the Miracles, 

TJie Existence of genuine Demonic Possession 171 

their moral coudition." " These sufferers retained a 
consciousuess of their moral bondage by the powers 
of darkness, such as did not usually appear before the 
beginning of their moral deliverance." ^ 

Further evidence to the same effect is superfluous. 
The relevancy of that already adduced is easily dis- 
posed of, without inquiring into the correctness of 
Lightfoot's conjectures, or the views of Olshausen and 
Weiss regarding the nature of demonic beings. The 
only antecedent to all " self-attested " cases of posses- 
sion is mental disorder of some sort or other. 


To attempt the unattempted is somewhat audaci- 
ous ; but the enterprise here is not without promise 
of success. The phrase, " moral and intellectual 
damage," has passed into international politics. It 
comes to hand conveniently. We have again to 
recall the two factors pertaining to every case of 
possession which answers to the criterion already laid 
down — 

1. The physical element or the presence of mental 


2. The super-physical element or the presence of 

demonic agency. 
(a) The moral damage. — It has been shown that 
the terms " evil " and " unclean " have only a patho- 
logical significance in relation to the conduct of the 

1 Life of Christ, ii. p. 81 ff. 

172 Demonic Possession in the N'or Testawent 

possessed. Their aberrant behaviour is completely 
explained by the facts of psychlogoical medicine. 
The depravity present is but an integral part of the 
disease. Jesus did not therefore hold demoniacs 
responsible for theii" condition ; nor did He at any 
time ascribe to possessing spirits moral influence over 
the possessed, so that the condition of the latter 
should be ascribed to the former. Following that 
ruling, no moral damage can be attributed to the 
possessing spirits. 

{h) The intellectual damage. — The symptoms of the 
possessed have their parallels among the insane of 
to-day ; the confession of Jesus as Messiah alone 
excepted. But the pathological features existed in 
the possessed prior to their confrontation by Jesus. 
There is not the slightest indication of any aggrava- 
tion of the purely physical derangement when the 
demonised of Capernaum and Gerasa were brought 
face to face with Christ. Luke says expressly con- 
cerning the former that the demon went forth, 
" having done no harm." The new feature in these 
and kindred cases was " the confession " ; but that was 
an intercurrent and momentary phenomenon, entail- 
ing no intensification of the mental disorder. No 
intellectual damage is therefore imputable to the 
possessing spirits. 

(c) If " moral and intellectual damage " be thus 
excluded, then the range of the action of possessing 
spirits becomes rather limited. It can have reference 
only to the residual, the super-physical phenomenon, 

The Existence of (jenuinc Demonic Possession 173 

i.e. to the classical criterion of genuine demonic 
possession, — the confession of Jesus as Messiah. 
While the morbid concomitants of the demoniac con- 
dition pre-existed in the cases under consideration, 
this confession was an instantaneous act, evoked in, 
with, and under, the i^'^'&sence of Christ.^ 

(d) Hypnotism is generally supposed to offer a true 
analogy to the action of a possessing spirit upon one 
possessed. That is a twofold error. Hypnotism is a 
physiological or pathological process, always induced 
through the organs of sensation. But the operation 
of a spii'it is not conceivable on this wise. It is 
further supposed that the hypnotic state is due to 
the imposition of the will of the hypnotiser on his 
subject. But the will has really nothing to do with 
it ; for the operator may suggest one thing, and with 
all his power will another, without altering the result. 
Space forbids any theorising on the modus agendi 
here. The fact of experience is to be recognised, — 
the reality of psychical influences or interactions. 

' lu the cases "not self-attested" or "natural," the \vhole of the 
phenomena belong to psychological medicine. To raise there the 
question of antecedents is simply to go back upon the causation of 
insanity and idiocy iu general. Moral depravity may occur as one 
among many other causes of these disorders. It could have no })lace 
iu regard to the idiot boy, whose illness dated " from childhood." 


The Beelzebul Controveksy 

the occasion of the same 

rpHERE are three cases of possession whose intrinsic 
-^ relations, historical, medical, and theological, set 
them apart as a special group. These are — 

1. The dumb demoniac. 

2. The blind and dumb demoniac. 

3. The epileptic idiot. 

The healing of those three produced an astounding 
effect ; being in each case as follows : — 

1. They wondered, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. 
Matt. ix. 33. 

2. They were amazed and said, Is not this the son of David ? 
Matt. xii. 23. 

3. They were all amazed at the majesty of God. Luke ix. 

Compare with this emotion, that aroused by the 
three raisings from the dead. In connection with 
the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, 
and Lazarus, w^e read respectively— 

1. They were astonished with a great astonishment. Mark 

V. 42. 



The Beclzcbul Controversy 175 

2. There came a fear on all, and they glorified God. Luke 
vii. 16. 

3. Caiaplias said, It is expedient that one man die. John 
xi. 50. 

The comparison is instructive ; because it suggests 
that the people regarded the cure of those demoniacs 
as a task rivalling the raising of the dead. The 
sensation produced on those occasions is wholly 
unique. Instances of a similar feeling are to be 
found occasionally ; but only as the product of 
cumulative causes. The healing of the paralytic is 
accompanied with the forgiveness of sins ; and the 
cure of the Gerasene is connected with the destruc- 
tion of the swine. So in other cases, where there is 
a great astonishment, the antecedent is not single 
but composite. The foregoing point is worthy of 

That brings us back to the diagnosis of these three 
cases of possession — 

1. Idiocy, with deafness and dumbness. 

2. Idiocy, with deafness, dumbness, and blind- 


3. Idiocy, with deafness, dumbness, and epileptic 

There is an undoubted increase in the severity of 
these cases, as in the admiration of the multitudes. 
There is likewise a change in the attitude of the 
enemies of Christ — 

1. They said, He casteth out demons iu the prince of demons. 
Matt. ix. 34. 

176 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

2. Tliey said, He lias Beelzebul, and in the prince of demons 
casteth out demons. Mark iii. 22. 

3. They (with the others) were all amazed at the majesty of 
God. Luke ix. 43. 

Here then we have the beginning, the culmination, 
and the sequel of the Beelzebul controversy. We 
soon discover how this personage comes into view. 

These three demoniacs suffered from idiocy, with 
deafness, dumbness, and other sensory defects. The 
exorcist, charged with his superstitious lore, has to 
study his cases for their appropriate treatment. The 
dumbness is immaterial to him ; because, per se, it 
offers no bar to his operations. But the deafness shut 
one door of access to the demon. Adjurations were 
quite useless. The deafness had virtually rendered the 
demon curse-proof. But other avenues of approach 
remained for attacking the loathly tenant ; provided 
that the other organs of sense were comparatively 
sound. But idiocy involves many and grave defects ; 
in advanced cases such as these were. Was the sense 
of smell greatly impaired ? Then the most cunning- 
fumigations were naught. Was the sense of taste 
much disordered ? Then the most odious concoctions 
were irrelevant. Was the sense of sight grievously 
defective ? Then the most startling exhibitions were 
worthless. Was cutaneous sensation much below 
normal ? Then the severest inflictions were out of 
place. The foul spirit was sheltered under the very 
sense-defects of tlie possessed. The exorcist was 
baffled at every turn. His resources were completely 

The Beelzebul Controversy 177 

exhausted. The case was hojjelesshf incurable ! The 
hapless demoniac was abandoned to his malignant demon! 
That then was the conditiou of those three. They 
were wholly beyond professional aid. But in the 
last resort, they had been brought to Jesus. He 
succeeded with ease where all others had failed. The 
further surprise of the situation was that He used no 
fumigations nor other devices of the vulgar exorcist. 
Candid observers could not withhold their tribute of 
admiration. Prejudiced onlookers cast about them 
for an explanation which would be plausible with 
the multitude yet detrimental to Jesus. The ethnic 
doctrine of demons aptly met all the requirements. 
It fancied a world of demons or satans where the 
greater lorded it over the lesser. To an exorcist on 
a friendly footing with " The Prince," nothing was 
impossible in the way of expelling recalcitrant spirits. 
Hence on the cure of the dumb demoniac, the know- 
ing Pharisees said, He casteth out demons in the 
prince of demons ! " The Prince " was then a well- 
known personage ; now he is little more than a great 


The theory of the Pharisees embodied current con- 
ceptions regarding the orders and functions of spiritual 
beings. These must therefore be kept steadfastly in 
view. Thus we learn first of all what Beelzebul was 

1. He is not Ashmedai. To the latter, the title of 

178 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

" Prince " is commonly applied. But his authority 
extended over " male demons " only. The other wing 
of the demonic host was controlled by Lilith, as queen 
of " female demons." These spirits are of the same 
order as Beelzebul ; but his authority is superior to 
theirs. He is sovereign over all foul demons. 

2. He is not Satan, the great devil. Beelzebul is 
a "foul spirit" (Mark iii. 30); and belongs therefore 
to the order of the Shedim, who are semi-sensuous 
beings. He is also a possessing spirit (Mark iii. 22); 
the result of his action being in part conceived as 
a driving of Jesus out of His senses (Mark iii. 22).^ 
But these attributes are in sharp contrast with 
those of Satan. The latter, though " head of all 
the Mazziqin," is no " half-spirit," like the Shedim ; 
but belongs to the order of purely spiritual beings. 
While demon-possession is common ; Judas is the sole 
instance of Satan-possession ; the result of the latter 
is not insanity ; but moral and spiritual ruin. This 
" prince of demons " is clearly not to be identified 
with Satan.- 

Had this " prince of demons " ever enjoyed the 
honours of divinity ? There is a suggestion of that 
in the variant reading of the name ■ — • Beelzebub. 
The authority for it is certainly not the highest ; but 
Jerome accepts it. As science can ignore no fact or 

^ Appendix L, Jesus out of His Senses ? 

- Beliar, Berial, Malkira, Mastemah, Mekembekus, Matanbukus, 
Mastiphat, Mansemat, Asbeel, Satanail, occur as names of Satan in 
extra-canonical writings ; but not Beelzebul. That is distinct con- 
firmation of the foreeoing conclusion. 

The Beelzehul Controversy 179 

suggestion, however tritiing in appearance, the hint 
must not be overlooked. It leads us therefore to 
consider the fly-gods of the ancients, in the hope that 
we may thus discover a clue to the antecedents of 
" The Prince " — 

1. The Egyptian fly-god. — This was the venerable 
Scarab-Beetle. According to Maspero, the scarab was 
" khopirru," and was confounded with Khopri — He 
that is — the sun of the morning. Khopri is thus 
represented as a disc enclosing a scarab, or as a man 
with a scarab for his headpiece.^ The scarab was 
likewise adored as an emblem of Phthah, the Creator. 
In the following fragment, wrongly ascribed to 
Orpheus by Gregory of Nazianzen and Philostratus, 
this deity seems to be referred to — 

Most glorious Zeus, greatest of gods, enwrapt in dung. 
Zev KvBiaTe, /xe'ytcrre 6ea)v, elXvfieve Konpo). 

But no connection is traceable between the scarab- 
god and the prince of demons. The function of the 
latter pertains to Thot among the divinities of Egypt. 

2. The Ekronite god. — Strictly speaking, the name 
Baalzebub denotes " owner of flies." It is thus a title 
of office rather than a personal name. This deity 
was probably of Babylonian origin, and a relic of 
Babylonian supremacy in the West, like his neigh- 
bour Dagon. This Ekronite god had more than a 
local reputation as a giver of oracles ; having been 
applied to by King Ahaziah (2 Kings i. 3). In 

' Maspero, Datcn of Civiliya/ion, p. 139. 

180 Demonic Possession in the Neio Tcstciment 

Babylonia, flies were believed to possess a competent 
knowledge of tlie future, and were consulted accord- 
ingly.^ But the function of the ancient Baalzebub 
is quite remote from " the prince of demons," and 
cannot be in view here. 

3. The classical divinities, — Zeus and Hercules. 
They bore distinctive titles in connection with this 
useful but humble function : — fjbVL-aypo<;, — hunter of 
flies, and — dvo/ubvio'i, — averter of flies. Hercules is 
said to have banished flies from Olympus by sacri- 
ficing to Zeus. Pliny relates that the Eleans acted 
similarly for the removal of flies which were bringing 
on a plague. Clement of Alexandria records that the 
Eomans, in like manner, sacrificed to Hercules. The 
Jews also understood that the divine presence repelled 
flies. Two Eabbis were discussing how the Shunamniite 
knew that Elisha was " a holy man of God." The 
reply was. She never saw a fly cross his table (Ber. 
105). Again it is written. In the place of sacrificing, 
no fly is seen (Pirqe Abh. v. 6, 7). But even so, 
there is here no clue to " the prince of demons." 

It is necessary therefore to turn to the etymologies 
of the better reading — Beelzebul. Only two of these 
are of any consequence.^ 

1 Lenormaut, La Divination, p. 95. 

^ Beelzebul might be derived from Beelzebulj in two ways. Bau- 
dissin suggested a change in the final letter, in the interests of euphony. 
Beelzebul might also be a pun on Beelzebub ; the prophets even being 
fond of punning (of. Micah i. 10 ff.). Both conjectures are unproven ; 
though not without precedent. These suggestions are of no value, 
as at most they lead back to Beelzebub, which has been already 


The Beelzehul Controversy 181 

1. Lord of dung. — So the name is rendered by 
John Lightfoot, followed by Fritzsche, De Wette, 
Bleek, Gesenius, and others. The arguments of 
Lightfoot need not be reproduced. They are vastly 
unconvincing. The insuperable objection to this view 
is that the proper word for dung is not " zebul," but 
" zebel." 

2. Lord of the divelling. — That is the interpret- 
ation of Michaelis, Paulus, Jahn, Hitzig, Hilgenfeld, 
Volkmar, and others. This gives to the name its 
natural significance ; and has also in its favour the 
analogous title of the Phcenician Saturn. There is 
perhaps not much in the discovery of ]\Ieyer that the 
Greek term for '•' the master of the house " is the 
exact equivalent of the Hebrew Beelzebul."^ 

The first interpretation is discredited on many 
grounds ; but the second is plausible. If, however, 
we can proceed no further than mere etymologies, 
our knowledge is little increased. The meaning and 
source of this title are to be further inquired into. 


When describing the case of Mary Magdalene, 
evidence was found of the prevalence of Babylonian 
influences. Among Jewish cultivators of occult arts, 
these influences were making themselves energetically 
felt. In this direction, then, we may seek an explana- 
tion of the name Beelzcbul. 

^ Meyer, in locu. oIko — Sot ; oco-ttotvjs — H'2. 

182 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Proiniuent in the Babylonian pantheon was the god 
Ea. He became also a Semitic Bel. Bel-Ea signifies 
exactly — " Lord of the dwelling." It is therefore 
the precise equivalent of the designation — Beelzehul. 
But we may go beyond this coincidence. The name 
of Ea has reference to the region over which he ruled. 
That was the home of man and animated things. 
His domain was the earth, the sea, the air. As spirit 
of the world and animating it, he possessed all know- 
ledge. As the soul of the zone of the world of living 
things, he was the god who saw that all was in order ; 
defending- the frame of nature asjainst the attacks of 
evil spirits. Having all knowledge, he knew all the 
tricks of demons and w^as able to balile all their 
enterprises. He knew all the magic formulae for 
subduing evil spirits, and was thus of exceptional 
helpfulness to the magician and the exorcist. His 
aid was sought where no rite or word or talisman 
of any other god or goddess availed to destroy the 
power of the demons.^ 

But the god Ea became identified with Mul-lil, 
" lord of the ghost-world," and " king of all the 
spirits of the earth," whose messengers were diseases, 
nightmares, and demons of the night." Like Ea, he 
too became a Semitic Bel. In the Magic Texts of 
Babylonia, he is invoked — - 

O spirit of Mul-lil, king of the world conjure ! 

^ Leuormaut, Bahylonian Magic, p. 158 ft'. 

- Sayce, Hihbert Lectures, pji. 140-147 ; p. 455 ct pas im. 

The Beelzehid Controversy 183 

Mul-lil had thus become an expeller of spmts as 
Ea had been ; and when thus merged in the latter, 
his title and function are those of Beelzebul — 

Bel-Ea . . . Lord of the chvelliug. 

Bel-Mul-lil . . Lord of evil spirits. 

Bel-Ea-Mul-lil . Lord of the dwelling and of evil spirits. 

Here at last then we have found " the prince of 
demons," who is also " a foul spirit." The identifica- 
tion seems to be complete. We can easily understand 
how exorcists who practised upon refractory spirits, 
according to the Babylonian rubric, should have but 
one explanation of the phenomenal success of Jesus. 
That is reflected in the words of the Pharisees : He 
casteth out demons in the prince of demons. 

This first accusation belongs to an early period in 
the ministry of Christ. It spread with amazing 
rapidity. When sending forth the Tw^elve, Jesus 
warned them. If they have cast up Beelzebul to the 
Master of the house, how much more to them of His 
household ? ^ That charge had a twofold merit. It 
satisfied at once the claims of science falsely so called, 
and served to discredit Christ as an ally of the 
powers of darkness. It had, therefore, an ingenious 
and malignant vitality about it which ensured its 
repetition. As the enmity of the scribes and Pharisees 
gathers way, the names of " glutton and winebibber " 
come to be well fixed. The Synagogue Ministry is 
now over ; and the house to house visitation of the 
Twelve also. The training of the Apostles now 

' Appendix M, Was Jesus nicknamed Beelzeliul ? 

184 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

engages attention. " The Teaching on the Mount " 
is concluded. Jesus returns unexpectedly to Caper- 
naum, and the word goes round, He is home (Mark 
iii. 19). These are the antecedents to the more 
embittered accusation which is connected with the 
healing of the blind and dumb demoniac. The whole 
nuance of the narrative presupposes the performance 
of this miracle in the neighbourhood of Capernaum.^ 


Such was the wretched counterblast of desperate 
men in their most desperate mood. The people had 
said, Is not this the son of David ? Meyer notes 
this as the " question of imperfect but growing faith." 
But faith in Jesus was the very thing which these 
Pharisees deprecated, and for the prevention of which 
they had already sent forth their cunning accusation. 
The people had shown an ability to judge for them- 
selves which was most ominous to the future sup- 
remacy of those lordly hypocrites who claimed to do 
the thinking for all. This prospective loss roused 
them to fury. Incipient independence must be 
crushed instantly and for ever. But, upon principle, 
Pharisaic godlessness proceeds in godly fashion. So 
those saintly villains said, He has Beelzebul, and in 
the prince of demons casteth he out demons.- 

^ Appendix N, Scene of the healing of the blind and dumh 

- Appendix L, Jesus out of His Senses '{ 

The Bedzcbul Controversy 185 

But with this passionate declaration there mingled 
a deep note of insincerity. It was reckoned not only 
possible to form compacts with demons, but even 
highly respectable to do so. Had not Solomon, in 
his halcyon days, summoned male and female demons 
to dance before him ? Had he not also through 
those agents got possession of the worm Shamir, in 
the highest interests of religion ? Had not this 
darling of the people likewise been the famihar of 
Ashmedai, the prince of demons ? Could any man 
therefore forbid tliose excellent Pharisees to follow 
these royal precedents ? A public avowal of those 
sentiments might not at this juncture enhance the 
reputation of those Pharisees ; but none the less were 
they convinced that an alliance with Beelzebul meant 
— Power ! That surely was a consummation to be 
devoutly coveted ? How fervently those deceivers 
wished to be potent as Jesus now ! 

CHKIST's refutation of the PHARISAIC THEORY 

There was no question as to the reality of the 
cure of the blind and dumb demoniac. The only 
point at issue was, Whence hath this man this 
power ? Is it devilish or divine ? Jesus refutes His 
enemies calmly and magnificently, by simply pushing 
their theory to its furthest issues. 

1. The logical issue. — The Pharisees believed in a 
kingdom of evil organised on the common ethnic 
model. It was a loose organisation, wherein the 

186 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Satanic units possessed no real community of in- 
terest, sentiment, or activity. One member could 
therefore cast out another. The displacement was 
a mere question of caprice or strength. But Jesus 
showed the utter absurdity of such a conception. 
Under those conditions, the kingdom of Satan must 
have an end. But its continuance proves that it is 
a compact organism ; wherein the several units are 
pervaded by an essential identity of interest, senti- 
ment, and activity. There is one head of this king- 
dom and therefore one responsibility. In this sense, 
then. How can Satan cast out Satan ? He is not 
divided against himself. The ethnic conception of 
the kingdom of evil is irrational ; because it involves 
division and consequent instability. The Pharisaic 
theory is logically untenable. 

2. The social issue. — This is an argumentuni ad 
hominem. If the Pharisaic theory was correct, then 
it was also defamatory to the confreres of this party, 
who busied themselves with the ejection of demons. 
" Jesus reasons ex concessis." He does not deny that 
the Pharisaic exorcists might sometimes attain a 
modicum of success. He is fully aware of the nature 
and limits of it. He argues that if the degree of 
His success is to be taken as the measure of His 
alliance with Beelzebul, then the same rule must 
apply to " the sons of the Pharisees." If a surpass- 
ing infamy attaches to Him because of His surpassing 
success, then highly respectable exorcists must bear 
a proportionate dishonour. The Pharisaic theory, 

The Beelzebul Controversy 187 

already shown to be crassly absurd, now becomes 
socially monstrous. 


The healing of the blind and dumb demoniac 
remained as a supernatural fact. The achievement 
was either devilish or divine. There was no tcrtium, 
quid. Jesus had shown that the former alternative 
was impossible. He had burst up the old theory 
from the bottom, and had covered its advocates with 
shame and confusion. But He never sought a cheap 
triumph even over His enemies. In a conciliatory 
manner, He makes a new sugfgestion. The success 

' CO 

of the ordinary exorcist was at best, occasional, 
accidental, and mostly temporary; the result of 
spells and fumigations. But the success of Christ 
was uniform, immediate, and always permanent ; ^ the 
result of " a word." Collusion with Beelzebul was 
an infamous absurdity. How could Jesus succeed 
otherwise than " in the Spirit of God " ? - The only 
reasonable conclusion was that the power resident in 
Him was truly divine. Here emerges the moral 
argument. Miracles which curtail the dominion of 
Satan are proofs that a new era has dawned. There 
stands One already in their midst Whom they know 
not. The Messianic King achieves His saving pur- 
pose " in the Spirit," as " the Lord and Giver of life." 

^ A[ipendix H, Testimonies to the success of Jesus. 
Luke xi. 20, " With the liu<j;er of God."' 

188 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Therefore the announcement is to all : The kingdom 
of God has come upon you {ecfiOaaev icf) u/xa?, Matt, 
xii. 28). 

But the moral argument is capped by the prophetic. 
The victory obtained over Satan that day implied a 
prior one. The spoiler was already spoiled ; the 
captor already captured. The strong man has been 
bound by the Stronger. Therein is the ancient oracle 
fulfilled : Shall the prey be taken from the mighty 
or the lawful captive delivered ? But thus saith the 
Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken 
away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered ; 
for I will contend with him that contendeth with 
thee, and I will save thy children (Isa. xlix. 24, 25). 
In the rescue of that blind and dumb demoniac, the 
Pharisees had presented before them the promise and 
the potency of the true Messiah. What was the 
event ? 


Jesus had rectified the errors of His adversaries 
and had proposed the true alternative for their 
acceptance. But Pharisaic superstition and malignity 
were invincible. Christ endeavoured in vain to 
cure the one and abate the other. The only result 
was a demand for a sign from heaven. For these 
Pharisees, then, neither moral proof nor Messianic 
miracle possessed the slightest value. They had con- 
temptuously brushed aside the most cogent evidence, 

The Beehehul Controversy 189 

and had thus come indefinitely near to the sin that 
hath no forgiveness. They refused to be enlightened, 
and had now the poor satisfaction of learning that 
they were " an evil and adulterous generation." No 
other description was more appropriate. That age 
had witnessed a real return to sorcery and mongrel 
worship. Lilith, Ashmedai, and Beelzebul were con- 
spicuous proofs of the same. The people which 
united an illicit regard for those principalities and 
powers with professed allegiance to Jehovah was 
deservedly reprobated as an " evil and adulterous 
generation." " Teacher, said they, we wish to see a 
sign from heaven." The response was most disquiet- 
ing. The sign was from hell, — The Beturn of the 
Demons ! 


It is quite necessary to remember that Jesus spoke 
here " in parables" (Mark iii. 23). The parable is 
essentially " an illustrating analogy." This one moves 
in the region of popular conceptions.^ Elements of 
the ethnic doctrine of demons are numerous here : 
such as the arbitrary going forth of the unclean 
spirit ; his roaming at large in the waterless desert ; 
his longing for a material organism wherein to rest : 
his commandeering of seven others more malignant 
than himself ; the united invasion of the house that 
was empty, swept, and garnished ; the increased de- 

^ Ajipeiidix 0. Did Jesus practise aceonnnodatioii ? 

190 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

structiveness of the more wicked fiends ; so that 
the last end of the possessed is worse than the first. 
But glancing backwards at Christ's attitude towards 
popular superstitions, we find those points anticipated 
and refuted. At the very beginning of this discourse, 
Jesus showed His aversion to ethnic superstitions. 
At the end of it, He does not return to the same. 
He uses, as the basis of His argument, the language 
of His opponents ; and He had a right to do so. These 
men refused to be divorced from their stubborn mis- 
conceptions. For them no illustration could possibly 
have been more clear and telling than this one. The 
aptness of it was its completest justification. More- 
over, the parable was in process of fulfilment. In 
the eager study of occult lore and in the practice of 
the black art, the demons of the prime had returned, 
and had recovered for themselves a place in the 
imagination and the creed of the populace. Modern 
Judaism with its strange customs and doctrines offers 
the best commentary on the prediction of a latter 
state worse than the former. 


Instead of reaping the rewards of zealous piety, 
these scribes and Pharisees liad the mortification of 
being exhibited as pagan theorists. Moreover, their 
pretty suggestion that Jesus was confederate with the 
prince of demons was now so deftly, yet withal so 
forcefully, knocked about, that they never had the 


The Beclzelnd Covtroversy 191 

courage to air it again. The reproach of possession 
reappears in Jerusalem ; but not the old accusation.^ 
The very name of Beelzehul henceforth sinks into such 
disrepute that it vanishes from Jeioish literature. 

Though worsted in argument, the wounded vanity 
of the scribes and Pharisees did not permit them to 
retire from the arena. The cure of the idiot boy at 
the Hill of Transfiguration is the true sequel to the 
Beelzebul controversy. In the narratives of Matthew 
and Mark that is the recognised order of events.- 
Though silenced in public, those malicious enemies 
continued to dog the footsteps of Jesus, even as far 
as the remote regions of Csesarea-Philippi. Here in 
the absence of the Master, the idiot boy was brought 
for cure. At first sight, there is no reason manifest 
why the Apostles should not succeed. On their first 
Mission, they had not known of failure (Mark vi. 13), 
But somehow the Nine failed at this critical juncture. 
The scribes must have been rendered jubilant over 
their impotence ; for the power which wrought in 
them was the self-same power as wrought in Jesus. 
The drying up of the stream implies the exhaustion 

1 John vii. 20 ; viii. 48, 52 ; x. 20. 

- Luke has reversed the order ; but without clear reason for it. 
"The Ebionitic tendency of the third Gosjjel," if any, does not clear 
up the matter. The charge of conspiring with Beelzebul has been 
shown to attach itself naturally to the healing of the dumb demoniac. 
Its repetition in a more aggi-essive form is equally natural in con- 
nection with the severer case of the blind and dumb demoniac. Its 
total absence in relation to the worst of these three cognate cases is 
wholly inexplicable, unless on the assumption that it has already been 
suppressed. Matthew and Mark have, doubtless, preserved the true 
chronological sequence. 

192 Demonic Pofifieasion in the New Testament 

of the fountain. Had the ceaseless vigilance of these 
men at last obtained its reward ? Were their former 
charges now to bo proved np to the hilt ? So they 
seem to have thought. Hence their enthusiastic 
haste to examine the crestfallen disciples (Mark ix. 
14). That precious opportunity, which they were so 
fervently embracing, was sadly marred by the return 
of Christ, Who cut short their inquisitorial proceed- 
ings. The malevolent intention of the scribes was 
at once unmasked ; and they were asked to show 
cause for this magisterial action. After a leading 
question or two had been put to the father, the lad 
was healed. A sharp lesson was read to all concerned. 
He rebuked them, saymg, faithless and perverse 
generation, how long shall I be with you ? How 
long shall I bear with you ? The distribution of the 
blame has puzzled commentators ; but the answer is 
now self-evident. The faithlessness is that of the 
Apostles in particular; the perversity, that of the 
scribes and their sympathisers in general. The dis- 
abling unbelief of the former was disappointing ; the 
aggressive violence of the latter, intolerable. But in 
the end all discordant voices were hushed ; even the 
scribes were overawed. " All were astonished at the 
majesty of God." 


This case was apparently of a novel character. 
Among demoniacs, it is the worst on record. Cases 

The Bechchul Controversy 193 

of this sort must have beeu rare in the land. The 
mortality, always high among such patients, must 
have been phenomenal in Palestine, owing to neglect 
or maltreatment. We are therefore entitled to believe 
that the Nine had never been confronted with a case 
of such extraordinary severity. But what was the 
special feature which must have impressed them as an 
invincible barrier to the healing of this lad ? Clearly, 
the deafness ! Whereas the ordinary exorcist supple- 
mented his adjurations by a variety of methods, the 
Apostles had to rely on the Name alone. But how 
could the Name operate when the sense of hearing 
was defunct ? That seemed fatal to success. Accord- 
ing to current notions, the demon was thus en- 
trenched in security behind the deafness. By such 
false ideas, the Nine were reduced to helplessness. 
The old leaven of superstition was their undoing. 
The power delegated to them was not to be exercised 
in any magical or mechanical fashion ; but only on 
the basis of intelligent faith and earnest prayer, 
sustained by an inward harmony of thought, desire, 
and will, with Christ. Dark superstition is to rational 
belief as night to day ; they are mutually exclusive. 
" This kind (of thing) can go forth by nothing but by 
prayer."^ The later records of the New Testament 
prove that the lesson was laid to heart by the 
Apostles. There ended their enfeebling superstitions.- 

' Appendix P, Ejection of demons by " fasting." 
- Appendix Q, The popular treatment of epilepsy. 



The Difficulties of the Gerasene Affair 

TyUXLEY referred to this with uunecessary vehe- 
-'— '- mence as " the Gadareue pig affair." lu this 
couuection, he remarks : " (Mr. Gladstone's) strategic 
sense justly leads him to see that the authority of 
the teachings of the synoptic Gospels, touching the 
nature of the spiritual world, turns upon the accept- 
ance or the rejection, of the Gadarene and other like 
stories. As we accept, or repudiate, such histories 
as that of the possessed pigs, so shall we accept, or 
reject, the witness of the synoptics to such miraculous 
interventions." A critique of the potential fallacy 
underlying this statement is not called for at this 
stage. Truth rarely consorts with the purely con- 
troversial mood. If the difficulties of the narrative 
have been felt to be real, there remains the possibility 
of a restatement of the whole case, with the prospect 
of diminishing or removing most of them. 


The locality has been variously assigned to the 
Gadarenes, Gerasenes, and Gergesenes — ■ 


The Difficulties of the Gerasene Affair 195 

Laclimaun . . . 
Tregelles . . . 
Westcott and Hort 
Revised Version . 



Authorised Version . Gergesenes Gadarenes 


Origen clears up the matter ; remarking that the 
precipitation of the swine is recorded to have taken 
place in the country of the Gerasenes. In a few 
manuscripts he found mention of the country of the 
Gadarenes. He objects to Gerasa, which was a city 
of Arabia (Gilead), having neither sea nor lake near 
it ; also to Gadara, noted for its warm springs, but its 
lake or sea was not at all near to precipices. There 
remained Gergesa by the Lake of Tiberias, near which 
was a precipice adjacent to the Lake, from which 
it was pointed out that the swine were precipitated 
by the demons. Origen thus makes it clear that in 
his time, " Gerasenes " was the prevalent reading ; 
" Gadarenes," that of a few manuscripts ; " Gergesenes," 
being unattested.^ The weight of textual authority 
thus favours the reading, " Gerasenes." 

The indications of the site are sufficiently ex- 
plicit — 

1. A place over against Galilee. 

2. A place with tombs adjacent to it. 

3. A place sloping steeply towards the Lake. 

^ Keim calls Gergesa a mere giiess of Origen ; but Jerome affirmed 
the existence of a village of that name, "still shown above tliC 
jriouiitain, close by the Lake of Tiberias," 

196 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

The site of tlie ancient Kerza or Gersa, discovered 
by Thomson, answers all the reqnirements of the 
case. The ruins of the old town are descril^ed as 
but a few rods from the shore ; but there is no l)old 
overhanging cliff, or "jumpiug-off place." Sir C. W, 
Wilson notes that about a mile south of the town, the 
hills approach within forty feet of the water's edge ; 
not terminating abruptly, but in a steep evenly slope. 
That spot would accord with a desire on the part of 
the demoniac(s) and the swineherds to avoid the town. 
Neither Gadara nor Gerasa affords the proper environ- 
ment. The former on the Hieromax (Um-Keis on 
the Jermuk), some ten miles from the Lake, was the 
capital of a district which apparently included Kerza. 
The latter was east of the ancient Eamoth-Gilead ; 
being some twenty miles from the Jordan, and some 
forty miles from the Sea of Galilee. It may be affirmed, 
on physiological grounds alone, that the swine were 
unequal to the physical task of galloping without 
rest from either of those towns to tlie Lake ; even 
though ridden by a whole legion of demons. These 
considerations lead to the unhesitating acceptance of 
Kerza as the scene of this affair. That is also the 
verdict of numerous competent travellers. 

The mention of the locality introduces us to the 
" Huxley-Gladstone controversy," which has already 
an antiquarian flavour.^ It is immaterial, whether 

^ Nineteenth Century, "Agnosticism," Fob. 1889 ; " Keepers of the 
Herd of Swine," Dec. 1890 ; " Huxley and the S\vine-Mirach>," Feb. 
1891. Cf. Imjjregnable Roch of Holy Scripture, p. 268 ff. 

The Difficulties of the Gerasene Affair 197 

we hold with Huxley that " the legal provisions which 
alone had authority over an inhabitant of the country 
of the Gadarenes were the Gentile laws sanctioned 
by the Eonians " ; or believe with Gladstone that the 
Gadarenes were " Hebrews bound by the Mosaic law." 
The ownership of the swine is completely hidden from 
us, and the conclusions on either side are open to a 
twofold objection. The arguments really proceed, — 
c sikntio. Moral issues cannot rest upon mere topo- 
graphical considerations. 


That Matthew should have two demoniacs where 
the other Synoptists have but one, is a surprising but 
not a singular occurrence.^ Attempts to make the 
diverse accounts agree with each other have met with 
small success, and the tendency is to get rid of one 
of the possessed. Thus Chrysostom, Augustine, and 
Calvin thought of the greater importance of one of 
the demoniacs compared with the other. Amnion's 
suggestion of a madman and his keeper is too 
ridiculous to deserve attention. The difficulty is 
hardly removed by the supposition of communicated 
insanity (folie a deux) ; for Matthew contemplates no 
difference either in the type or in the severity of the 
symptoms of the two possessed. We have thus to 
consider two men suffering from the most furious 
mania, both manifesting the same homicidal pro- 
1 Cf. Matt. XX. 30 ; Mark x. 46 ; Luke xviii. 35. 

198 Demonic Possession in the Neio Testament 

pensities, both harbouring the same dehisions, both 
practising the same mutilations, and both uttering 
the same menaces. How two lunatics aniipated by 
such terrible passions, could dwell together in unity, 
" for a long time," surpasses comprehension. The 
theory of folie a deux is inadequate to the occasion, 
and the circumstances raise an inherent, if not an 
invincible, doubt as to the accuracy of this detail. 

Various conjectures have been offered as to the 
source of this discrepancy. Matthew does not aim at 
a heightening of the miraculous here. The concentra- 
tion of the demons in one subject comes much nearer 
to that. Nor does the first Evangelist introduce the 
two demoniacs here to make up for his omission of 
the possessed of Capernaum. Ebrard, Bleek, Holtz- 
mann, and others, overlook the fact that Matthew is 
usually precise in distinguishing things that differ. 
He separates the epileptics from the demonised, and 
differentiates the dumb from the blind - and - dumb 
demoniac. Another explanation, usually associated 
with the name of Weiss, is that Matthew found the 
term " demons " in his original ; and for the plurality 
of these postulated a plurality of demoniacs. Yet 
Jewish, not less than ethnic, doctrine contemplated 
the possibility of a single person becoming the hold 
of many unclean spirits. Matthew was therefore 
under no necessity of introducing two subjects of 
possession where one sufficed. The suggestion of 
Weiss thus becomes of none effect, and there is still 
left an unsolved antinomy. 

The Difficulties of the Gerasene Affair 199 


The statements of the Synoptists are as follows : — 

1. The demons, having gone out, departed into the swine; 
and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep into the sea 
and died in the waters. Matt. viii. 32. 

2. The hlthy spirits, having gone forth, entered into the 
swine ; and the herd rushed down the steep, some two thousand 
of them, and began to be choked in the sea. Mark v. 13. 

3. The demons, having gone out of the man, entered into the 
swine ; and the herd rushed down the steep into the lake and. 
were choked. Luke viii. 33. 

On the understanding that the transmigation of 
the swine is a fact, there have arisen questions of 
motive which must be considered. 

A. Motives have been assigned to the demons — 

1. Their desire was to prejudice the Gerasenes 
against Jesus, whose permission of the demons to 
enter the swine involved the pig-owners in loss. But 
those people raised no threat of legal action. They 
offered no violence to the party. They wislied simply 
to get rid of Jesus quietly as an uncanny personage. 

2. Their desire was to escape from the torments 
of hell ; an organism, animal or human, being sup- 
posed to afford the requisite shelter. This poor 
apologetic elicited the cheap sneers of Strauss, Keim, 
and others, who pointed out how little the demons 
were to be congratulated on their foresight ; the 
possession of the swine proving a short cut to the 
abyss. But these remarks are puerilities. If demons 
are sph-its, then the ethical element must enter into 

200 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

their " torments," and from these no physical environ- 
ment can save them. 

B. Motives have been assigned to Jesus — 

1. The destruction of the swine was intended to 
alleviate the final paroxysm of the demonised, caused 
by the exit of the " legion." But this is a triple 
error. As a matter of fact there were no final 
paroxysms. Even had such existed, their alleviation 
by transference to an animal organism is a physio- 
logical impossibility. Finally, the death of the swine 
could afford to the demonised no demonstration of his 

2, The destruction of the swine was intended to 
test the Gerasenes as to whether they would prefer 
eternal life to the loss of their property. But they 
had no option in the matter. They were apprised of 
their loss after its occurrence. In any case, Jesus 
never attempted conversions by physical methods. 
He came not to judge but to save. The foregoing 
suggestion is an absurdity. 

We need not proceed further with the enumeration 
of motives on either side. It is evident that no light 
comes from these sources, and it is therefore necessary 
to consider anew the fundamental facts. 


We recognise here a solid nucleus of fact, which 
remains after the application of the canons of his- 
torical criticism. That unassailable residuum com- 

The DifLCuUics of the Gerasenc Affair 201 

prises the cure of the demoniac and the precipitation 
of the swine. 

We recognise here also a certain theory of this 
occurrence. The facts are separable from the theory, 
and furnish material for testing its validity. The 
facts remain unchallenged ; the soundness of the 
theory is legitimate matter of inquiry. The record 
is as follows : — 

The demons besought him, saying. If thou cast us out, send 
us away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them. Go ! 
Matt. viii. 31, 32. 

Jesus asked him, What is thy name 1 And he said unto him, 
My name is Legion ; for we are many. And he besought him 
much that he would not send them away out of the country. 
And they besought him, saying. Send us into the swine, that we 
may enter into them. And he gave them leave. Mark v. 9, 
10, 12, 13. 

Jesus asked him. What is thy name ? And he said. Legion ; 
for many demons were entered into him. And they besought 
him that he would not order them off to hell.^ They besought 
him that he would give them leave to enter into the swine. 
And he gave them leave. Luke viii. 30-32. 

These remarkable differences of the Triple Tradi- 
tion give us the theory emergent from the facts — • 

1. The prayer of the demoniac becomes the prayer 

of the demons themselves. 

2. Leave to remain in the district becomes a 

request to escape the abyss. 

^ Luke regards tlie netlier region of hell {a^vaaos) as the proper 
home of the demons, not the country (xwpa) round the Lake. Cf. 
Luke viii. 31 ; Mark v. 10. But the sea was a recognised route to hell. 
The Jews knew of three gates to Gehenna — one in the wilderness (Num. 
xvi. 33) ; another in the sea (Jonah ii. 2) ; another in Jerusalem (Isa. 
xxxi. 9). See Erul>in 19a. 

202 Demonic Possession in the N'ew Testament 

3. The word, Go, — is interpreted as permission to 
enter into the swine. 

It is to be noted that the possession of animals by 
demons is an ethnic idea, which found entrance into 
the early Church. Origen asserts that demons enter 
into birds, serpents, foxes, wolves, and weasels. Jerome 
relates the success of Saint Hilarion in casting a 
demon out of an unspeakable Bactrian camel. The 
transference of demons from human beings to objects, 
animate and inanimate, is likewise an ethnic concep- 
tion.^ Charles vi. of France, the Mad or the Beloved, 
was experimented on by a bold priest for the removal 
of his demon ; twelve men being chained up for its 
reception. The Indian exorcist of Cumana, when 
called in for "the treatment of one possessed, after 
much toil brings up a thick black phlegm, having in 
its centre a little hard black ball. The latter is 
carried into the field with the words : Go thy way, 
devil ! Farrar asserts that the passage of unclean 
spirits from the demoniac to the swine was " a 
thoroughly Jewish belief." Edersheim takes excep- 
tion to the statement. But the proof-passage of the 
former is no proof ; and the denial of the latter is 
not an argument. The idea of such a transference 
could not have been quite foreign to the Jews. The 
point of paramount importance relates to the question. 
Did Christ sanction that belief by directing or per- 
mitting the demons to invade the swine ? 

1. The case seems to be regarded as one of 

^ D'Alviella, Hibhcrt Ledures, p. 88 fi'. 

The Difficulties of the Gerasenc Affair 203 

multiple or manifold possession. " ]\Iany demons 
were entered into him." But that was an opinion 
which Jesus did not hold. The evidence on the 
point is perfectly clear. 

Mark has these oscillations — 

The man is in an unclean spirit, v. 2. 
He cried, What is there between me and thee ? v. 7. 
Jesus said, Come out of the man, unclean spirit, v. 8. 
The man besought him not to send the demons away. v. 10. 
The unclean spirit besought him, Send us into the swino. 
V. 12. 

Jesus suffered them to enter the swine, v. 1.3. 

The spirits, having come out, entered the swine, v. 13. 

Jesus allows of only one demon throughout ; Mark 
has one also in v. 3. The demoniac surmises a multi- 
tude ; so does Mark in v. 12, 13. 

Luke has these oscillations — 

The man has demons, viii. 27. 

He cried. What is there between me and thee ? viii. 28. 

Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to go forth, viii. 29. 

The unclean spirit had seized him many times, viii. 29. 

He was driven by the demon into the wilderness, viii. 29. 

He said. Legion ; for many demons had entered into him. 
viii. 30. 

The demons besought him not to order them off to hell, 
viii. 31. 

The demons besought permission to enter the swine, viii. 

The demons, having come out of the man, entered the swine, 
viii. 33. 

Jesus allows cf only one demon throuyhout ; Juhe 
has one cdso in viii. 29. The demoniac sur)nises a 
m^dtitudc ; so does Luke in viii. 30, SI, 32, 33. 

204 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Entirely in harmony with this view of our Lord is 
the demonic confession — 

What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Son of God Most High ? 
Mark v. 7. 

What have I to do witli Thee, Jesus, Son of God Most High ? 
Luke viii. 28. 

The textual variations have long been known ; but 
no one has ventured to draw the proper inference. 
The statement of Jesus is precise and unfaltering. 
He did not regard this as a case of manifold 

2. What meaning then is to be attached to the 
words : Send US into the swine ? They obviously 
imply a plurality of demons in the man ; whereas 
Christ expressly recognised one only. Was this the 
prayer of " many demons " ? Evidently not ; for Jesus 
did not believe in the existence of such a host. Was 
this then the prayer of the single demon ? Clearly 
not ; for it belies itself in the contradiction of terms. 
The correct formula for the single possessing spirit 
would have been : Send ME into the swine ! There 
is therefore no demonic request to invade the herd. 
The utterance is human, and proceeds naturally from 
a lunatic who harbours the delusion that he is 
possessed of a " legion." No real reply to this man's 
request was possible. Did Jesus then offer a pre- 
tended reply ? Was this a case of accommodation ? 
Within narrow limits, the practice is a legitimate one 
in the treatment of the insane. The danger is that 
recognised by Ctelius Aurelianus of old, viz., the con- 

The Difficulties of the Gerasene Affair 205 

firmation of the existing delusion. An instance taken 
almost at random illustrates the method. Thus, a 
person who believed that a snake was present in his 
internals was cured by a pretended operation. But 
he thereafter took up the notion that, while the 
serpent itself was removed, its ova were left behind, 
ready to be hatched into a new brood of vipers. He 
was relieved, however, by the dexterous reply that the 
snake was a male.^ Accommodation is thus a form of 
condescension {a-vyKaTa^aaL';). The insane person 
assumes the leading role ; the physician, for the time 
being, abdicates his intelligence. But such procedure 
in no wise corresponds to the case under consideration. 
The demoniac is never regnant. From first to last, 
Jesus is supreme. The very conditions of accommoda- 
tion are conspicuous by their absence. There could 
be no response, real or pretended, to the words of the 
possessed : Send US into the swine. That statement 
is wholly unrelated to anything that follow^s. 

According to Matthew, Christ uttered one word : 
Go (vTrdyeTe) I - The same term is implied, not ex- 
pressed, in the narratives of Mark and Luke. A 
severe and enlightened criticism must find in it the 
nearest approximation to the ipsissinium verlum of our 
Lord on this occasion. It can have no reference, 
logical or practical, to the demoniac himself ; but only 
to his possessing demon. The word — virdyeiv — occurs 
in the New Testament in two distinct senses — • 

' Guy and Ferrier's Forensic Medicine, '• Mania." 
- Pluval for two demouiacs. 

206 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

(a) As the symbol of an absolute command. 

(h) As the vehicle of a simple permission. 

The first Evangelist clearly favours the former 
interpretation ; the second and third evidently con- 
template the latter. If it be granted that a demonic 
request is contained in the words : Send US into the 
swine ; then it must also be granted that the answer 
to that request is contained in the word, Go. But 
excellent reasons have been offered in proof of the 
conclusion that no demonic request for permission to 
invade the herd is to be found there. Petitions for 
leave to enter into the swine are but the vagaries of 
one who has lost his reason. Where there was no 
genuine prayer hy the possessing demon, there coidd he no 
genuine ijermission hy the sovereign Christ. The term, 
Go, must therefore bear the former interpretation in 
preference to the latter. It thus denotes an imperial 
injunction which shows that Jesus is in unbending 
opposition to the enemy. " Go," is but the repetition 
of the first behest : Get out of the man, thou filthy 
spirit ! Neither direction to enter the swine, nor per- 
mission to do so, nor compensation for disturbance, 
can be thought of here. The first is an assumption. 
No command to this end is recorded in the Gospels. 
The naked mandate is : BEGONE ! The second is an 
inference. No passage of the demon into the swine 
was visible. The former is a spirit. The third is an 
impossibility. Demonic confession was an oflence to 
Christ. No mitigation of its evil desert is conceivable ; 
least of all by hiding in the swine. 

The Difficulties of the Gerasene Affair 207 


As the panic among the swine seems no longer 
explicable by the action of a legion or a unit, the 
cause of this incident must be sought elsewhere. The 
conceited dogmatism of Krug, Schmidt, and Volkmar, 
lacks even the saving grace of " most ingenious and 
beautiful poesie." The more serious attempts to 
understand this event require brief consideration. 

1. Paulus supposed that the demonised in the last 
paroxysm of their illness, rushed upon the herd with 
loud cries, hunting them over the cliffs, while the 
keepers fled. There was, however, no final paroxysm ; 
and there is no trace of such a driving of the swine 
into the sea. 

2. Lange, along with final paroxysms, fancies that 
the cries of the demonised rose to a most horrible 
shout — the thousand voices of the demons now beins 
expelled. This acted like an electric shock, causing 
a panic among creatures " susceptible of dark sylvan 
terror " ! But this author's imagination so occludes 
his practical understanding that the matter remains 
obscure as ever. 

3. Farrar conceives that the shrieks and gesticula- 
tions of a powerful lunatic might strike the swine 
with uncontrollable terror ; adding that the " spasm of 
deliverance was often attended with fearful convul- 
sions, sometimes perhaps with an effusion of blood." ^ 

^ A curious integratiou — Shrieks (Bleek, Laiige), gesticulations 
(Ewald), spasms (Paulus), etc. 

208 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

The last is a notable addition, not attested in 
the records. It is really irrelevant to the issue. 
In swine, the senses of sight and smell are highly 
developed. Their being "far oif" at the moment, 
might possibly be no bar to their seeing and scenting 
effused blood, if any. But while cattle and some 
other animals are sensitive to the sight and smell of 
blood, swine are psychically indifferent to the same, 
whether animal or human. No panic could therefore 
arise from this cause. 

4. Eosenmiiller suggests that hot weather might 
have something to do with the stampede of the herd ; 
one perhaps being morbidly affected, and beginning to 
run about wildly, then followed by the whole flock.^ 
If the first point be conceded, the rest might follow. 
But whatever the season of the year, the heights 
round Gerasa, on which the swine pastured, must 
have been cool at this particular hour. The strong 
wind of the previous evening had been sweeping these 
hills for hours. This suggestion cannot be accepted ; 
and in any case it would leave the panic of the herd 
more mysterious than ever. 

5. Lutteroth thinks of the incidence of giddiness 
upon the swine, permitted by Christ, Who thereby 
intended to give the demonised a sign of deliverance, 
and so remove his fixed idea.^ But a fixed idea con- 
notes physical disease as its substratum ; and, as 
already noted, a sign for the confirmation of the man's 
sense of restoration was superfluous and absurd. 

^ Expositors Greek TcHamcnt, i. p. 148. 

The Difficulties of the Gerasene Affair 209 

Further, the smiting of some two thousand swine with 
vertigo defeats the end of this suggestion. If the 
herd were smitten with giddiness, their phmging into 
the Lake, by a movement, direct and rapid, would 
have been impossible. The effect of severe vertigo 
is the suspension of all power of locomotion. This 
proffered solution is a multiplication of existing 

With the failure of these explanations, we are 
driven back upon the simple narrative. Clearly, 
Jesus issued no injunction, direct or indirect, for the 
destruction of the herd. It is equally certain that 
there is some connection between the healing of the 
demoniac and the rushing of the swine into the 
sea. The time and place must be carefully scrutin- 
ised once more as a clue to the solution of this 
difficulty. Specific notes are furnished by the three 
Evangelists — 

1. All are agreed that the cure of the possessed 

coincided with the panic among the swine. 

2. At this juncture, the demoniac and the herd 

were separated from each other by a con- 
siderable distance (fjuaKpav, Matt. viii. 30). 
The term — fiaKpuv — is an elastic one. Meyer 
translates it in a relative sense ; Weiss renders it — 
" afar off." The latter contradicts the Vulgate — 
" non longe." These sharp differences only prove that 
the ordinary philological methods are of little use in 
dealing with a colloquial term like tliis. The com- 
bination of the descriptions of Mattliew and Mark 

210 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

happily furnishes a concrete basis for determining the 
lineal value of the word under consideration — 

There was a good way off (fxaKpdv) from them a herd of swine. 
Matt. viii. 30. 

Having seen Jesus afar off (nanpuOev), he ran and worshijjped. 
Mark v. 6. 

The two terms are equipollent and commensurate. 
The distance is reckoned from the point of landing. 
That was the centre of a circle ; the demoniac being 
at the extremity of one radius, the herd at the ex- 
tremity of another. These adjacent extremities were 
the loci from which the running in each case began. 
But it was shown that the demoniac, when within the 
tomb, became aware of the arrival of Jesus and His 
party through the sense of hearing. The interval 
between them was not great. They were within ear- 
shot of each other. When the demoniac " ran," he 
met them " instantly." 

But the terms — jxaKpau and /jbUKpoOev — are often 
applied to distances within which distinct vision is 
possible — 

Ilagar watches Ishmael, — fiaKpdv ; as it were a bowshot off. 
Gen. xxi. 16. 

The father recognises the ragged prodigal, — /xaKpav. Luke 
XV. 20. 

Those at the cross ave—jxaKpuBev ; but within earshot. Mark 
XV. 40 ; John xix. 26-27. 

In these instances the distances do not exceed two 
or three hundred yards at most. This would amply 
suffice to harmonise all the philological and topo- 


The Difficulties of the Gerasene Affair 211 

graphical data of the narrative here. It is a reason- 
able estimate, and brings us within sight of the 
solution of the problem, viz., the cause of the stampede 
of the swine. 

The herd was some two or three hundred yards from 
the spot whereon the party of Jesus was gathered 
and whereon the demoniac was cured. Prior to these 
events, there may have been an initial restlessness 
among the herd. It is a striking fact in the natural 
history of these animals, that they are peculiarly 
sensitive to aerial disturbances in the open field. Like 
the horse, they are very liable to panic. During the 
preceding evening a strong gale had been blowing off 
shore. It may have engendered a state of excitement 
not allayed towards morning. But the point need not 
be pressed. There was more than enough in the 
following events to produce a stampede. 

There were the fierce yells of the maniac as he 
rushed down the hill. Now the shrieks of a homi- 
cidal lunatic are particularly penetrating, even when 
he is under confinement ; but if heard, when he is at 
large, they are unspeakably disconcerting. They can 
never be forgotten. But above those wild shouts of 
the demoniac rose the voice of Christ : Get out of the 
man, thou filthy spirit ! The response was the fierce 
defiance, What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou 
Son of God Most High ? I adjure Thee by God that 
Thou torment me not ! Then finally, the great 
commanding word of Christ, addressed to the demon : 

212 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

The mad rush of the demoniac and these many 
loud voices were more than sufficient to arouse the 
most stolid creatures. Each interjectional episode was 
stormier than its predecessor, till the terror of the 
swine, passing beyond all control, projected them, 
down the steep declivity, over the narrow foreshore, 
almost in a solid mass, into the waters. The whole 
series of events was probably comprised within a few 

But let us return for an instant to the state of 
the demoniac. The departure of the demon does 
not follow upon the first word of Christ ; the cure is 
not instantaneous. There is a brief period of physical 
reaction, during which strange thoughts flit through 
the mind of this man. His abnormal sensations had 
formerly produced the hallucination of gigantic 
strength, which took local form and colouring in the 
delusion that he was possessed of a " legion." Some- 
thing similar is happening now. He is conscious of 
a change in his condition, and seeks an explanation 
of his novel sensations. His imagination couples 
the subsidence of his more acute symptoms with the 
increasing excitement among the swine. Hence the 
idea of a transference of his demons and his prayer 
for their welfare. Then, with one word of majesty, 
Christ completes the stage of convalescence, and the 
man sits " clothed and in his right mind, at the feet 
of Jesus." 

The Difficulties of the Gcrasene Affair 213 


Travellers iu the Orient laay deem the destruction 
of the swine a welcome riddance. Probably it was 
so to some of the people of Gerasa ; for those beasts 
did not add to the amenities of the place. Still the 
death of these creatures meant loss for the owners ; 
the swine being in demand among the Gentiles for 
dietetic and sacrificial purposes. The damage has 
probably been overrated hitherto. At least there are 
certain countervailing factors — 

1. The estimate of two thousand is approximate. 
It may be a little high ; having been made under 
unfavourable circumstances. There is no suggestion 
that precise information was furnished on the point. 
The keepers fled, and the others " were afraid." 

2. The loss may have been diminished by retriev- 
ing the carcases and utilising them afterwards. The 
removal of the dead hogs from the Lake was a 
necessity for " the long-shore folk," both on hygienic 
and ceremonial grounds. Witness the results of the 
sea-fight of Tarichtea, as related by Josephus.^ There 
is perhaps something in the serio-comic suggestion 
of Wetstein that the flesh of these drowned animals 
may have been pickled or made into smoked hams ! 
If so, some of the Gerasenes or their neighbours may 
not have been worse than certain degraded classes in 
India and China, whose long living on the margin of 
existence has created a penchant even for carrion. 

' £. J. III. X. 9. 

214 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

3. The plunging of tlie herd of swino into the 
waters may have been less fatal than is commonly, 
supposed. These animals are excellent swimmers. 
No higher authority for this statement can be found 
than Heilprin. When discussing the migration of 
animals, he says : The domestic pig, even at a very 
young age, has been known to swim five or six miles ; 
and it is not exactly impossible that the wild hog, 
in cases of absolute necessity, might successfully 
attempt a passage of three or four times this distance.^ 
Huxley betrays no inkling of this fact, which is 
rather damaging to his advocacy of the imaginary 
claims of the " Gadarene Swinefolk." 


In connection with this miracle, Christ has been 
repeatedly accused of being a law-breaker and an 
injurious person. Woolston asserted that no jury 
would have acquitted one arraigned and accused in 
such case ; coarsely adding that our laws and judges 
of the last age would have made such a culprit 
" swing for it." - Strauss lauded the greater justice 
of Pythagoras, who is said to have compensated 
some fishermen for his alleged liberation of fish from 
their nets. Huxley has given us this flourish of 
trumpets : " Everything that I know of law and justice 
convinces me that the wanton destruction of other 

^ Distribution of Animals, p. 42. 
' Miracles, pp. 35-39 (1727-1729). 

The Difficulties of the Gerascnc Affair 215 

people's property is a misdemeanour of evil example." ^ 
But as neither command nor permission from Jesus 
is discoverable in this regard, these ponderous 
accusations must take their place among exploded 

^ " Keepers of the Herd of Swine," Nineteenth Century, Dec. 1890. 


Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic 

possession in sub-apostolic times 

TT has been shown that apart from the earlier 
-^ portion of the ministry of our Lord, cases of 
genuine demonic possession, as attested by the 
criterion of the Gospels, are not discoverable. No 
case of this sort is reported by the Apostolic Fathers 
who shared the illumination of the Apostles. As a 
whole, their writings fall well within the first half of 
the second century ; while the regions represented 
by them include Egypt, Italy, and Asia Minor. 
They possess very varied degrees of culture ; but are 
at one in their freedom from the superstitions of 
possession and exorcism, so prominent in later ages. 
The sequel proves that they had abundant oppor- 
tunity for the expression of such views, had they 
entertained them. 

1. The Didache or Teaching of the Twelve 
Apostles, was written, apparently in Egypt, about 
100 A.D. It forbids one to become "an omen- 
watcher or enchanter or astrologer or purifier," or " to 


Alleged Continuance of gemiine Demonic Possession 217 

be willing to look " on the same (iii.). The way of 
death includes magic arts and sorceries (v.) ; and 
earnest counsel is given against things offered to 
idols ; " for it is a worship of dead gods " (vi.). 
Possession is not mentioned. 

2. The Epistle of Clement of Eome, to the 
Corinthians/ written about 92—101 a.d., shows a 
knowledge of Apocryphal literature in its quotation 
from the Book of Judith (Iv.), whence we may 
presume a knowledge of the extra-canonical books. 
But the writer makes no mention of demons ; and 
knows of no such powers disturbing the harmony of 
the universe (xx.). Their oppression of the human 
race is not contemplated by him. 

3. The Shepherd of Hermas, written by a con- 
temporary of Clement, in Italy, is a crude kaleido- 
scopic affair, a very primitive Pilgrims Progress. 
Spirits and angels, good and evil, are much in 
evidence. In the building of the Tower (Church), 
twelve holy spirits appear as virgins — Faith, Con- 
tinence, Power, Patience, Simplicity, Innocence, 
Purity, Cheerfulness, Truth, Understanding, Harmony, 
and Love {Sim. ix. 13, 15). There are also twelve evil 
spirits, appearing as women in sable robes and dis- 
hevelled hair — -Unbelief, Incontinence, Disobedience, 
Deceit, Sorrow, Wickedness, Wantonness, Anger, 
Falsehood, Folly, Backbiting, and Hatred {Sim. ix. 
15, 18). Doubt is an earthly spirit, daughter of the 
devil {Mand. ix.) ; Lust is another {Mand. xii. 2). 

1 The Second Epistle of Clement is spurious. 

218 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Slander is a restless demon {Maud, ii.) ; Passion, an 
unclean spirit which straitens and strangles the 
Holy Spirit, Who then departs. From folly is be- 
gotten bitterness ; and from bitterness, anger ; and 
from anger, frenzy. When all these evils dwell in 
one vessel (the heart), in which the Holy Spirit also 
dwells, the vessel overflows. The tender Spirit, not 
being accustomed to dwell with the evil spirit, with- 
draws ; and the man is henceforth filled with evil 
spirits {Mancl. v. 1, 2). Grief is said to be " more 
wicked than all the spirits," and crushes out the 
Holy Spirit {JIand. x. 1). Self-will with empty self- 
contidence, is likewise a " great demon" (Sim. ix. 22). 
The spirit of the false prophet is empty, powerless, 
foolish, and devilish ; fleeing from the assembly of 
the righteous, who are possessed of a spirit of 
divinity {Mcind. ix.). There are also two classes of 
angels ; indeed every man has two such attendants. 
When the angel of righteousness ascends into the 
heart, then he talks of righteousness, purity, chastity, 
contentment, and of every righteous deed and 
glorious virtue. When the angel of evil enters, then 
ensue anger, harshness, and a whole train of other 
vices {Mctnd. vi. 2). The enumeration of the works 
of the evil angels include sins already called demons. 
It is therefore evident that the language of Hermas 
is greatly pictorial. There is no reference to posses- 
sion or exorcism. Xo suggestion of that sort can lie 
in the statement that one is saved in the Name of the 
Lord {Vis. iv. 2), nor in the declaration that one 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic Possession 219 

caunot enter the kingdom of heaven except in the 
Name of the Beloved Son (Sim. ix. 12). Conybeare's 
inference is untenable ; the clear Scriptural signifi- 
cance of these phrases being otherwise.^ The magical 
element is absent from this Epistle, and the ethical 
is exalted in quaint, rustic fashion. 

4. The Epistle of Barnabas was written about the 
beginning of the second century ; possibly by a 
Gentile, judging from the statement that before con- 
version the heart was " full of idolatry and an house 
of demons " (xvi.). It hails apparently from Alex- 
andria, and is severely anti-Judaistic. It savours of 
the jungle in its references to the hare, the hyena, 
and the cloven foot (x.) ; and might be expected to 
reflect vulgar superstitions. Satan is said to possess 
the power of the world (ii.) ; and men are warned 
to hate the works of iniquity, lest " the black one " 
(6 /ieXa?) should enter into them (iv.). Over the 
way of light are the light-bringing angels of God ; 
over the way of darkness are the angels of Satan 
(xviii.). In the way of darkness are such soul- 
destroying things as magic (xx.). Yet there is no 
reference to possession or ejection of demons. 

5. The genuine Epistles of Ignatius are the pre- 
face to his martyrdom (110-118 A.r).).^ These 

^ See Jewish Quarterly Eevievj, July 1896, p. 596. 

- To the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Pliiladelphians, 
Smyrnseaus, and Polycarp. The spurious Epistle to the Antioehians 
contains the following passage : — " I salute the holy presbytery. I 
salute the sacred deacons, and that person dear to me (Hero, the 
deacon). Him may I through the Holy Spirit, behold, occupying 

220 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

writings refer to the gradation of angels {Tral. v.), 
and to " things in heaven and earth " {Eph. xiii.). 
Satan obtains frequent mention as the wicked one, 
the seducing spirit, and the author of all evil. After 
the resurrection, Jesus is said to have addressed the 
disciples : Lay hold, handle me, and see that I am 
not a bodiless (da-cofiaTov) demon {Smyr. i\\.)} In 
the account of the martyrdom, there are several 
references to demons, of a popular sort ; but these 
are not citable as evidence, because this narrative 
contains elements that are confessedly unhistorical. 
Possession and exorcism are conspicuously absent 
from the genuine Epistles. 

G. The Epistle of Polycarp, written to the Philip- 
pians shortly after the martyrdom of Ignatius (xiii.), 
enjoins prayer and fasting ; but only as aids to the 
religious life (vii.). There is a quotation from the 
Book of Tobit : Alms delivers from death (x.) ; but 
the writer evinces no taste whatever for the supersti- 
tions of that book or for kindred absurdities. 

7. The unknown author of the Epistle to Diog- 
netus writes " not before Trajan, and not much 
later." He has a vigorous polemic against idols ; 
but says nothing which would imply their animation 

my place when I sliall attain to Christ. My soul be a sacrifice for 
his ! I salute the subdeacons, the readers, the singers, the door- 
keepers, the labourers, the exorcists, the confessors. I salute the 
keepers of the holy gates, the deaconesses in Christ. I salute the 
virgins betrothed to Christ, of whom may I have joy in Jesus. I 
salute the people of the Lord from the least to the greatest, and all 
my sisters in the Lord. 

^ From the Gospel of the Xazarenes, according to Jerome. 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic Possession 221 

by demons. Far less does he think of the latter as 
infesting man. The Fragments of Papias — " a hearer 
of the Apostle John," and " a companion of Polycarp " 
— are of a similar tenor. 


From the large mass of material available, only a 
few testimonies of leading writers can be cited. It 
is convenient to consider these under two categories — 

A. The general doetrine of demons 

Justin Martyr (105—167 A.D.) represents Samaria 
and Ephesus. He was deeply versed in Hellenic 
lore ; having studied the Stoic, Peripatetic, Pytha- 
gorean, and Platonic systems of philosophy. He 
despised the Epicurean. The general date of his 
writings is approximately 150 A.D. He is largely 
responsible for the invasion of the Church by ethnic 
demonology. According to Justin, demons are the 
children of the fallen angels {Ap. ii. 5) ; striving to 
enslave men by dreams or magic ; corrupting women 
and boys by apparitions ; and terrifying them by 
fearful sights into the belief that they are gods {Aj:). 
i. 14. 5). They endeavour to seduce men from God 
and Christ ; producing their counterfeits of Christ 
and Christian ordinances {Ap. i. 58. 54. 62. 66). 
They subdue men variously by magic writings, fear, 
and punishment ; or by teaching them to offer sacri- 
fices, incense, and libations. They sow murder, war. 

222 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

adultery, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness {Ap. 
ii. 5). These things are ascribed to the gods ; but 
they are the work of demons, who likewise invent 
the foul tales told of the former {Ai). i. 21. 25, 
ii. 5). They inspire magicians like Simon Magus 
and Menander, and raise up heretics like Marcion 
{Ap. i. 26. 56. 58).^ They persecute the wicked, 
demanding sacrifices and services {Ap. i. 12). They 
everywhere persecute the righteous ; having put 
Heraclitus, Musonius, and Socrates to death {Aj). ii. 
8. 1, 5, ii. 7). They decree death against those who 
read the books of Hystaspes or the Sibyl or the 
prophets ; their object being to prevent the knowledge 
of good and retain men in slavery {Ap). i. 44). 
Demons instigated the Jews to persecute Christ 
{Ap. i. 63), and now incite the persecution of Chris- 
tians {Ap. i. 57). They are overthrown by the 
Name of Christ {Ap. ii. 8), and will finally be shut 
up in hell {Ap. ii. 8). Possession is also ascribed to 
the souls of the dead {Ap. i. 18). 

Minucius Felix flourished about 150 a.d. He 
was a Eoman advocate and wrote his Octavius about 
this date. He argues that as the magi, the philoso- 
phers, and Plato, have shown, the demons as impure 
spirits lurk under statues and images and by their 
afflatus attain the authority of a present deity ; while 
they are breathed into prophets, dwell in shrines, 
animate tlie fibres of the entrails, control the flight of 
birds, direct the lots, and work miracles. They are 
^ Cf. 1 Tim. iv. 1, " Seducing spirits and doctriues of demous." 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic rossession 223 

both deceived and deceivers, because ignorant of the 
simple truth ; and for their own ruin confess not wliat 
they know. They thus bend down from Iieaven and 
call men away from the true God to material things. 
They disturb life, render all men unquiet, creep 
secretly into human bodies, as being subtile spirits. 
They feign diseases, alarm the mind, and distort the 
limbs, that they may constrain men to worship them ; 
so that being gorged with the fumes of altars or the 
sacrifices of cattle, they may seem to cure what they 
had bound, by remitting the same. These raging 
maniacs who are seen rushing about, are also them- 
selves prophets without a temple. In them also is 
a like instigation of the demons, but an unlike occasion 
of their madness. A great many people know all 
these things. Saturn himself, and Serapis, and Jupiter, 
and whatever demons are worshipped, confess before 
Cinistians, who they are. When adjured by the only 
true God, these w^retclied beings unwillingly shudder ^ 
in the bodies (of the possessed), and either spring 
forth at once or vanish by degrees, as the faith of the 
sufferer assists, or the grace of the healer inspires. 
They thus fly from Christians when near at hand ; 
though they harassed them at a distance in their 
assemblies. They take possession of minds and ob- 
struct hearts, that men may begin to hate Christians 
before they know them ; lest if they knew them, they 
should either imitate them, or not be able to condemn 
them (Oct. xxvii.). 

^ Cf. Jas. ii. 19, "The demons believe and sliudder." 

224 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

Tertnllian (150— 230 a.d.) has an elaborate doctrine 
of demons, worthy of North Africa. He starts with 
the axiom that there are demons, since Socrates him- 
self waited on the will of one. This evil spirit 
attached itself to him, even from childhood ; and 
doubtless turned his mind from good. The poets 
also acknowledge demons ; even the untutored popu- 
lace use them for cursing. Indeed, they call on Satan, 
the arch-demon, in their execrations as if prompted 
by some instinctive knowledge of him. Plato also 
believed in angels, and the magi witness to the exist- 
ence of both angels and demons. The Scriptures 
further teach how there sprang from the fallen angels 
a more wicked demon-brood ; condemned of God, with 
the authors of their race and the demon-chief. The 
great business of these demons is the ruin of mankind. 
Hence they inflict on the body, illness and physical 
calamities ; and on the soul, sudden and excessive fits 
of madness. Their marvellous subtility and tenuity 
gives them access to both parts of our nature. These 
demons, being invisible and impalpable, can inflict 
much liarm on men who are not conscious of their 
action, save by their effects. Just as when some 
secret blight in the air affects fruit and grain in the 
flower, killing them in the bud or blighting them in 
their maturity ; or as when in some occult manner, 
the tainted atmosphere spreads abroad its pestilential 
exhalations ; so by a contagion equally obscure, the 
breathing of angels and demons corrupts the mind 
and goads it into madness or cruel lusts, with various 

Allejed Gontinumicc of genuine Dcvionic Possession 225 

delusions. The most prevalent of these deceits is that 
by which the demons enthral and delude men to 
believe in the gods, that thus they may obtain the 
sustenance appropriate to them, — the savour of the 
flesh and blood of the sacrifices offered to their effigies 
and images : as well as the turning of the minds of 
men from the true God by the deceits of false divi- 
nation ; that lieing to them a more pleasant repast. 
These deceits are ehected by the demons being winged 
like the angels, so that they are everywhere in a 
moment. The whole world is as one place to them. 
Hence with equal ease, they know and report all that 
is done over the whole earth. Men do not know 
what their real nature is and take their swiftness for 
a mark of divinity. Often they foretell evils, and wish 
to be thought the authors of the same. They often 
have ill news to announce, but never good. From the 
lips of the prophets of old, the demons stole the 
counsels of God, and the same course is followed by 
them when they overhear them in the churches. 
Thus acquiring some knowledge of the future, they 
set up as rivals to the true God, wliile they steal His 
oracles (Apol. xxii.). By the help of angels and 
demons, the magi put dreams into the minds of men, 
and l)y the latter powers, goats and tables are made 
to divine. In proof of the assertion that the gods 
of the heathen are demons, Tertullian charges the 
pagans to bring before their tribunals one who is 
plainly ])0ssessed of a demon. "When challenged by 
a Christian, tlie demon truthfully declares himself; 

226 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

though elsewhere he has declared himself a god. 
Similarly, let one supposed to be god-possessed be 
taken, oue of those who by inhaling the fumes of the 
altar has conceived divinity, and who is bent double 
in belching forth his prophecies ; let the virgin 
Coelestis, the promiser of rain, or ^sculapius, the 
inventor of medicine, be taken ; if these do not at once 
confess to being demons (for they dare not lie to a 
Christian), then slay upon the spot that most impudent 
Christian (Apol. xxiii.). 

Origen (186-253 A. p.) represents the culture of 
Alexandria. His demonology is practically that of the 
Neo-Platonists. He placed himself under Ammonius 
Saccas, the founder of the School, — an apostate 
Christian. The doctrine of Origen is mostly con- 
tained in his work Contra Celsum (C. C). He 
apphes the term " demon " to wicked powers freed 
from the encumbrance of a grosser body {C. C. v. 5) ; 
the body being naturally fine and thin, as if formed 
of air, and by many considered incorporeal {Frincij}. 
Proleg. 8). The earth-spirits are intent on frankincense, 
blood, fumes of sacrifices, and sweet sounds (C. C. iv. 
32, vii. 35, viii. 61). They haunt the images of the 
gods (C. C. \dii. 43) ; feeding on blood and fumes and 
odours of victims {C. C. vii. 35, 64). They enter 
certain animals, as weasels, birds, serpents, foxes, and 
wolves (C. C. iv. 92, 93). Evil spirits may take com- 
plete possession of the mind ; allowing their victims, 
neither the power of understanding nor of feeling. 
This constitutes possession or insanity, as in the 

Allcjcd Continucmcc of genuine Demonic Possession 227 

Gospels (Frincip. ill. iii. 4). Wicked spirits cause 
sterility, plagues, tempests, and other calamities, also 
famine, blight of fruit trees, and pestilences among 
men and beasts (C. C. i. 31, viii. 31). This is done 
by them as executors of divine judgment or agents 
of divine chastisement. These evil powers lead men 
astray, fill them with distractions, and drag them 
down from God and super-celestial things to those 
below {C. C. V. 5). The demons that haunt unclean 
places and the denser parts of bodies, possess oracular 
power ; hence their choice of the bodies of animals. 
The spread of Christianity destroys the worship of 
idols, and thus cuts them off from their former sup- 
plies. In this way, some starving demon incited 
Celsus to vilify the Christians {C. C. vii. 56). It is 
their interest to arrest the Gospel and to cause perse- 
cutions (6'. C. iii. 29, viii. 43, iv. 32). Yet the demons 
have no real power over Christians {C. C. viii. 34, 36). 
Experience has taught them that they are defeated 
by the martyrs, whose confessions are tortures to them 
{C. C. viii. 44). Origen holds that magic is a consist- 
ent system, having words known to a few. These, 
when pronounced with the appropriate modulations, 
are of great power ; but useless when translated ; for 
the local demons have local names and must be cited 
accordingly {C. C.'i. 24, 25). The Name of Jesus has 
expelled myriads of demons from the bodies and souls 
of men. It is still effective for the removal of mental 
distractions and diseases (6'. C. i. 25, 67). Unclean 
spirits fear the Name of Jesus as that of a superior 

228 Demonic Possession in the Nev: Testament 

being, or reverently accept Him as theii' lawful Euler 
{C. C. iii. 36). 

The testimonies of Athenagoras, Irenseus, Cvprian, 
Lactantius, and many others, make no substantial 
addition to the teachings already adduced. The 
superstitions, which invaded the Chui'ch, in the writ- 
ings of Justin Martyr and others, are in most striking 
contrast to the purity of the Apostolic Fathers. 

B. The general treatment of the demonised 

Justin Martyr contemplates several elementary 
formulae for the expulsion of evil spirits. " AVe call 
Jesus, Helper and Eedeemer, the power of Whose 
jSTame even the demons do fear. And at this day, 
when they are exorcised in the Xame of Jesus Christ, 
Who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, governor of 
Judaea, they are vanquished. And thus it is manifest 
to all that the Father has given unto Him such great 
power that even the demons are subdued by His Name 
and the dispensation of His passion." " Every demon, 
when exorcised in the Name of this very Son of God, 
the firstborn of every creature, Who became man by 
the Virgin, Who suffered and was crucified under 
Pontius Pilate, in His Name, every demon is over- 
come and subdued." ^ Minucius Felix mentions the 
ejection of demons in connection with the torment of 
words and the fires of prayers, uttered by Christians ; 
the result being sometimes immediate, sometimes 
gradual (Oct. xxvii.). Tertulliau asserted that demons 

1 Dialogue with 'fi-yplw, xxx., Ixxxv. ; cf. Ixxvi. Apol. ii. 6. 

Alkfjed Continuance of fienuine Demovie Po^seasiov 229 

fled from " the touch and breathiug " of Christians 
upon them ; being overwhelmed by the contemplation 
and representation of the fire in store for them (Apol. 
xxiii.).^ Cyprian alleges that demons were cast out of 
the bodies of the possessed, by the adjurations of 
Christians ; being tortured by spiritual stripes, lament- 
ing and groaning at the voice of man and the power 
of God, feeling the stripes and blows {Epist. ad 
Demetr.). Origen knew of a variety of methods for 
curing the demonised. Such are the imposition of 
hands {Horn, xxiv.) ; the invocation of the God of all 
things and of Jesus, with the mention of the history 
of the latter {C. C. iii. 4) ; also prayer and simple 
adjurations, without magic or incantations {C. C. vii. 4) ; 
likewise, prayers and other means which might be 
learned from the Scriptures {C. C. vii. 67). This last 
method sufficed for the ejection of demons from the 
souls of men or from places where they had estab- 
lished themselves, or from the bodies of animals which 
were often injured by them. It was natural for 
Origen to complain of the scientific medicine of his 
day, which discovered mental disorder where he found 
demonic agency.- Lactantius believed in " the sign 
of the passion," coupled with the Name of the Master, 
for the ejection of evil spirits {Inst. iv. 27). The 
Arabic Canons of Hippolytus prescribed adjurations, 
with the sign of the cross upon the breast, the brow, 

^ Cf. Cyril of Jerusalem : The simple iu-lilowiiig of the exorcist 
becomes a fire to the unseeu foe. 
- See commeut on Matt. xvii. 15. 

230 Drmnnic Possession in the New Testament 

the ears, and the mouth (Can. xix., xxix.). Jerome 
tells how the demonised resorted to the tombs of 
Elisha, Obadiah, and John the Baptist, at Samaria. 
His description makes it evident that most of the 
sufferers were lycanthropes (^^ns;^. 108). Chrysostom 
reports the case of Stagirius, whose health had broken 
down under the strain of monastic life. He had re- 
course to the saints and the tombs of the martyrs ; 
but his peregrinations were vain {De Provid.). He 
suffered from suicidal melancholy. Martin of Tours 
(319—400 A.D.) is credited with an unsavoury triumph 
over a demon. His biographer, Sulpitius Severus, 
relates how one day, on going into a house, the saint 
paused on the threshold, saying, I see a horrible 
demon in the porch of the house. The good bishop 
ordered the demon off"; but thereupon it seized the 
cook (?) who still lingered inside. This wretched 
man then began to gnash with his teeth and to tear 
all that he met. The house was in an uproar ; the 
people fled. Martin presented himself to the mad- 
man and bade him stand. But when he gnashed 
with his teeth and threatened with open mouth to 
devour, Martin thrust his fingers into the man's 
mouth, saying. If you have any power, eat these ! 
Then the possessed, as if he had taken a piece of red- 
hot iron into his jaws, retracting his teeth, would not 
touch the lingers of the saint. The demon, when com- 
pelled by punishments and tortures to depart, not 
being allowed to escape by the mouth, passed out 
" fluxu ventris " ; leaving sad and foul traces behind it 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic Possession 231 

( Vita, xvii.). But dismissing the embellishments of 
this tale, there is here an undoubted case of insanity, 
induced by superstitious horror, and cured (!) by 
" punishments and tortures." 

The treatment of the possessed ^ generally tended 
to pass from superstition to barbarity. But there 
was another side to it. From the Canons of the 
Council of Carthage, we learn that, in certain places 
at least, the care of the demonised had become sys- 
tematic, if not rational. They had their abode in the 
church. The otticial exorcist laid his hands on them 
each day. They had to sweep the floors of the 
church, and received their meat in due season (Can. 
iv. 90, 91, 92). Chrysostom also notes that they 
had a place in the prayers of the Church. The 
beautiful " Bidding Prayer " of the Apostolic Constitu- 
tions is still extant (viii. 6, 7) — 

(After the dismissal of the catechumens), let the 
deacon say : Ye energumens afflicted with unclean 
spirits, pray. And let us all earnestly pray for them, 
that God, the Lover of mankind, will Ijy Christ rebuke 
the unclean and wicked spirits, and deliver His suppli- 
cants from the dominion of the adversary. May He 
that rebuked the legion of demons, and the devil, the 
prince of darkness, even now rebuke those apostates 
from piety, and deliver His own workmanship from 
his power, and cleanse those creatures which He has 
made with great wisdom. Let us still earnestly pray 

^ \a.iixovi^bfj.€voL, KarexofMevoi., ivepyovfj-evoi, xei.ixa^6jXivoL, kKvSuivI- 


232 Demonic Possession in the Neiv Testament 

for them. Save them, O God, and raise them up by 
Thy power. Low down }onr heads, ye energumens, 
and receive the blessing. 

And let the bishop add this prayer and say : Thou 
Who hast bound the strong man and spoiled all that 
was in his house. Who hast given us power over 
serpents and scorpions to tread upon them and upon 
all the power of the enemy, Who hast delivered to us 
the serpent, that murderer of men, bound as a sparrow 
to children, Whom all things dread, and before the 
presence of Whose power all things tremble. Who hast 
cast him down as lightning from heaven to earth, not 
with a fall from a place but from honour to dishonour, 
on account of his wilful disposition to evil, Whose 
look dries the abyss and Whose threatening melts 
the mountains, and Whose truth endureth for ever, 
Whom infants praise and suclclings bless, Whom the 
angels hymn and adore, Who lookest upon the earth 
and makest it tremble. Who touchest the mountains 
and they smoke. Who threatenest the sea and driest 
it up, Who makest all the rivers as a desert, and the 
clouds as the dust of Thy feet, Who walkest upon the 
sea as upon solid land, Thou only-begotten God, Thou 
Son of the great Father, rebuke those wicked spirits, 
and deliver the work of Thy hands from the power of 
the hostile spirit ; for to Thee is due, glory and 
honour and worship, and by Thee to Thy Father, in 
the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen. 

At first, the ejection of demons was not a specialty 
among Christians. It belonged to all. Origen says 

Alleged Continuance of r/envine Drviovic Possession 233 

that the work was mostly that of the imlettered, who 
thus made evident the grace of God and the despicable 
weakness of the demons {V. C. vii. 4). In the Ajw's- 
tolic Ccmons, it is still an exercise of voluntary 
goodness (viii. 26). With increasing complexity in 
the functions discharged bv the Church, the order of 
exorcists arose. The office was a subaltern one ; the 
exorcist not being ordained unless required for the 
office of bishop, priest, or deacon (Apost. Can. viii. 26). 
On appointment, the person received a book of 
formulae, containing prayers and adjurations (Con. 
Garth, iv. 7). About the middle of the third cen- 
tury, Cornelius of Eome had fifty-two exorcists, 
readers, and doorkeepers (Euseb. Hist. Ecdes. vi. 43). 
In this century also, baptism came to be surrepti- 
tiously connected with exorcism. But candidates for 
baptism were not on the same plane with the ener- 
gumens. The latter were only eligible for that rite 
upon recovery or in extremis. The anointing of 
catechumens with " exorcised oil," preparatory to 
baptism, as practised under Cyril of Jerusalem, does 
not bear transcription. 


During the Middle Ages, the old demonism con- 
tinued to flourish ; but was partly overlaid by a novel 
diabohsm. Gregory the Great (542-604 a.d.) re- 
flects the standpoint of his times when he relates 
how a nun, in godless haste, proceeded to eat without 

234 Tfrmonie Possession in the New Testament 

first making the sign of the cross ; the consequence 
being that she swallowed a devil in her lettuce 
{Dialog, i. 4). This pope, in sending forth his mis- 
sionaries to the barbarians, did not aim at the ex- 
tirpation of pagan rites. His policy was rather to 
Christianise them. His laxity or liberality opened 
wide the door for the introduction of heathen supersti- 
tions. A quasi-Christian mythology arose, in which 
fairies and gol^lins freely mingled with angels and 
demons. Under a sanction, sometimes traditional, 
sometimes ecclesiastical, the old pagan ceremonies 
contrived to maintain themselves and to acquire a new 
importance. Satan played the part of dupe or clown, 
appearing now as a beast or a black man ; again as an 
angel or a fair woman. Yet with all his versatility, he 
was only a poor stupid, who might be confounded or 
put to flight, with ridiculous ease. Eelics, rosaries, 
proven amulets, holy water, the sign of the cross, 
and canonical adjurations, reduced him to a state 
of impotence ; wherein he was fain to vent his dis- 
pleasure by sulphureous fumes as he fled. From the 
tenth century, he began to be taken more seriously : 
and witchcraft, as a hybrid between paganism and 
Christianity, came into prominence.^ That is, how- 
ever, a side-issue, and attention is to be directed 
to a few of the alleged instances of possession in 
mediaeval and modern times — 

Tlie demonomania of South-Eastern Eurojte. — This 
appeared in the eighth century, and spread through 
^ Appendix R, Witchcraft. 

Alleged Continuance of gemiine Demonic Possession 235 

Calabria to Greece, Constantinople, and the vEgean 
Islands. Phantoms were said to have come near and 
conversed with the subjects of this disorder. On its 
physical side, it was a contagious insanity, wherein 
the hallucinations of the afflicted reproduced them- 
selves in others. 

The dancing manias of the Middle Ages. — The 
first appeared at Erfurt in the thirteenth century, but 
was of moderate dimensions. In 1374, the most 
notable outbreak of this sort occurred. The lunatics 
danced hand in hand, in pairs or circles ; on the 
streets, in private houses, even in the churches ; with- 
out rest and without shame. They were insensible 
to ordinary sights and sounds or other impressions. 
They professed to have visions of spirits whom they 
could name. The wild screams of the dancers were 
regarded as the invocations of demons. When this 
fierce delirium had produced exhaustion, convulsions 
and severe pains set in. The condition was ascribed 
to possession, and solemn exorcisms were performed. 
After a time the disorder ceased ; but burst forth 
again in l-il8. The dancers raved and pranced 
as before ; also fasting for prolonged periods. This 
time the possessed were put under supervision and 
taken to the chapel at Rotestein. Masses were said 
for them, and they were led in procession round 
the altar, for the ejection of their demons. On the 
physical side, these dancing manias are recognisable 
as ancient insanities which have become recrudescent 
and contagious. Their parallels are the Tarantism 

236 Demonic Possesion in the Nev) Testament 

of Italy, the Tigretier of Abyssinia, the exercises of 
the Jumpers and Shakers.^ 

The eommhionnaires of France. — These made 
their iirst appearance in 1729. In the conflict 
between the Jesuits and the Jansenists, the former 
got the upper hand. But miracles were reported 
at the grave of Dean Francois of Paris. People 
crowded into the cemetery, and on approaching the 
s;rave, were seized with convulsions. In this con- 
dition, they prophesied and testifled in a most edify- 
ing manner against the Jesuits and the Papal Bull 
(Unigenitus). These prophecies and testimonies were 
sealed by miraculous cures at the cemetery. In 1732, 
Louis XV. closed this burial-place ; but the epidemic 
did not die out for two generations. A kindred 
disorder broke out in Morzines in Upper Savoy in 
1857. It w^as noticed first among children, from 
whom it spread to adults. The convulsionnaires 
changed in character ; becoming indifferent to their 
friends and to religion. So irritable did they become, 
that a word or the mere sight of a stranger was often 
enough to provoke a convulsion. These patients soon 
became quite furious. They hurled articles of furni- 
ture about, and repeated the same things endlessly. 
They declared that they were lost souls in hell, and 
believed that they were possessed of one or more evil 

1 The Junipers appeared in Cornwall in 1760 ; came under the obser- 
vation of John Wesley in Wales in 1763 ; patronised by William 
Williams, ' ' the Watts of Wales, " at a later date. The Shakers arc the 
disciples of Ann Lee (1736-1784). 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic Possession 237 

spirits whom they felt or heard within them. When 
the convulsions subsided, the patients returned to 
their normal condition ; being sometimes quite 
oblivious of what had transpired during the period of 
their convulsions. On their physical side, these 
disorders were true epidemic insanities, in which 
hysterical phenomena passed over into transient 

The clemonolaters of India. — They are often cited as 
parallels to the possessed in the time of our Lord. 
Caldwell has given an interesting account of the 
same ; but the description apparently applies to the 
phenomena generally witnessed on these occasions.^ 
He tells how the circle is formed, the fire lit, and the 
offerings prepared. These consist of goats, fowls, rice, 
pulse, sugar, ghee, honey, with white chaplets of 
oleander and Inids of jasmine. The tom-toms are 
beaten more loudly and more rapidly, the hum of the 
conversation is stilled, while a deep expectancy fills 
the assembly. The rickety door of the hut is dashed 
aside and the devil-dancer staggers out. He is tall, 
haggard, pensive, with sunken eyes, and matted hair. 
His forehead is smeared with ashes, his face is streaked 
with vermilion and saffron. He wears a high conical 
cap, which is white with a red tassel. A long robe 
invests him from neck to ankle, and on it are tlie 
figures of the goddesses of smallpox, cholera, and 
murder. On the ankles are heavy silver bangles, and 
in the riglit hand a staff or spear, also a bow, which, 
' DfUiouolatiy, (Joutcnujoranj Review, Feb. 1876. 

238 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

when pulled by the string, emits a dull booming 
sound. In the left hand is the sickle-like sacrificial 
knife. The dancer, with unsteady motion reels into 
the crowd and sits down. The assembly shows him 
the oiferings wdiich they intend to present ; but he 
appears to be wholly unconscious. He croons an 
Indian lay in a low voice, with drooped eyelids and 
head sunk upon his breast. He swings slowly to 
and fro, his fingers twitch nervously. His head now 
begins to wag, his sides heave and quiver. He per- 
spires profusely. The tom-toms are beaten faster, the 
pipes and reeds wail out more loudly. There is a 
sudden yell, a stinging ear-piercing shriek, a hideous 
gobble-gobble of hellish laughter. The devil-dancer 
has now sprung to his feet, with eyes protruding, 
mouth foaming, chest heaving, muscles quivering, and 
arms outstretched, swollen, and straining. Now and 
again, the quick, sharp words are jerked out, 1 am 
God, I am the true God ! To him as to the present 
deity, sacrifices are offered up ; while shrieks, vows, 
imprecations, and exclamations of thankful praise, 
blend together in one infernal hubbub. Above all, 
rise the ghastly laughter and the stentorian howls of 
the devil-dancer, I am God, I am the only true God ! 
He cuts and hacks and hews himself, and not infre- 
quently kills himself, there and then. Hours pass by. 
The crowd remains rooted to the spot. Suddenly the 
dancer gives a great bound into the air, and when he 
descends he is motionless. The fiendish look has 
vanished from his eyes. His demoniacal laughter is 

Alleged Gontinttance of geiiwinc Demonic Possession 239 

still. He speaks to this and that neighbour, quietly 
and reasonably. He lays aside his garb, washes his 
face at the nearest rivulet, and walks soberly home, a 
modest, well-conducted man. 

Is this, then, a case of genuine demonic possession 
in modern times ? There are very distinct difticulties 
in the narratives, which one would wish to have 
cleared up. But these complexities do not obscure 
the real nature of the disorder here present. It 
remains uncertain whether the spectators uniformly 
believe in " demon-possession " or " god-possession." 
The point is immaterial, as the line between the two 
is not strictly drawn by such spectators. What is 
to be noted is the fact that the consciousness of the 
devil-dancer himself is beclouded in the highest 
degree. The gait is also unsteady. There is twitch- 
ing of the fingers, movement of the head, deepening 
of the respiration, rise of the temperature, drooping 
of the eyelids, stupor of the countenance, general 
muscular excitement, delirium with pleasing halluci- 
nations. There is also partial amesthesia and loss of 
self-control ; evinced by self-mutilations. Evidently 
the devil-dancer is inspired ; not by a demon, how- 
ever, but by Indian hemp (bhang or ganja). The 
physiological effects are all in evidence here ; even 
down to the power of partly directing the hallucina- 
tions induced. These are specially manifest in the 
exclamation, I am God, I am the true God ! The 
action of the Indian hemp is heightened by the noisy 
music and the general excitement. There is nothing 

240 Demonic Possession in the Nevj Testament 

here which at all deserves the name of " supernatural." 
The " devil-dancer " has simply drugged himself with 
his favourite intoxicant. 

The dervishes of Algiers. — These present a study- 
as interesting as the previous parties. They have 
several points in common with them ; probably they 
are not identical. These dervishes have been adduced 
as instances of genuine demonic possession in modern 
times. Tristram has given a vivid account of their 
performances as witnessed by himself.^ The place of 
meeting was paved in the centre with bright tessel- 
lated tiles, on the midst of which the dervishes w^ere 
squatted. Eound three sides sat the musicians, beat- 
ing large tambourines, and swinging their heads as 
they accompanied their voices in a low measured 
chant. Nothing could sound more monotonous than 
this unvaried wailing cadence, no music less capable 
of inspiring frenzy. The fourth side of the square 
was occupied by a young man, sitting cross-legged 
before a low table on which were a bundle of papers, 
and a lighted candle. Near him was a chafing dish 
over which the tambourines were frequently baked. 
One of the musicians instead of a tambourine, had 
a huge earthen jar, with a mouth covered by parch- 
ment. This emitted a deeper note than any of 
the other instruments. After a while, amid much 
noisy music, the dervishes " having now worked up the 
steam," a huge negro with a grizzly-grey moustache, 
plunged forward with a howl and swayed his body 

^ The Great t>ahuno, pp. 12-15. 

Alleged Continnance of genuine Demonic Possession 241 

to and fro. He was supported by the attendants, 
stripped of his turban and outer garments, and 
accommodated with a loose burnous. He then danced 
an extempore saraband in front of the lights. Mean- 
while, he had been anticipated in his excitement by 
a little boy in the rear, who had been working him- 
self up for the previous twenty minutes, into an 
ecstasy, rolling his head and swaying on his seat, 
apparently unconscious and unobserved. The negro 
had now Ijecome outrageous, his eyeballs glowing 
and rolling as he grunted and growled, like a wild 
beast. The musicians then plied the sheepskins with 
redoubled energy, till the din became deafening. The 
negro craved aliment, and a smith's shovel red-hot, 
was brought him. He seized it, spat on his fingers, 
rubbed them across its edge, found it not sufficiently 
tender, blew upon it, and struck it many times with 
the palm of his hand. He then licked it with his 
tongue, found it not yet to his taste, handed it back 
again to the attendant with evident disgust, squatted 
down again, glared carnivorously, and was gratified 
with a live scorpion, which was eaten with evident 
relish, commencing carefully with the tail. Then a 
naked sword was handed him, which he tried to 
swallow but failed, as the weapon was slightly curved 
and a yard long. This negro tlien recommenced the 
saraband, brandishing the naked sword in a promis- 
cuous fashion, cutting the candle to pieces, and 
making the musicians dive to avoid him. He then 
tried to bore his cheek through and to pierce himself 

242 Demonic Possession in the N'evi Testament 

ill the abdomen ; setting the hilt, now against a 
pillar, now against the ground. A friendly fanatic 
tried to help him by jumping on liis shoulders, but 
in vain ; the man evidently being a pachyderm for the 
nonce. Then several maniacs howled and staggered 
to the centre ; repeating the same extravagances, 
including the scorpion. Three of them then knelt 
before the presiding chief of the dervishes, who fed 
them with the leaf of the prickly pear which they 
bit with avidity, and masticated in large inouthfuls, 
spines and all. Others repeated the shovel experi- 
ment ; and one sturdy little fellow, naked to the 
waist, balanced himself on his stomach, on the edge 
of a drawn sword, held up b}' two men. Then he 
stood on it, supporting a tall man on his shoulders. 

Are these cases, then, genuine parallels to the 
demoniacs of the New Testament ? There is an 
apparent toughness and callousness of certain tissues 
of the body. But these features are to be correlated 
with the sharpness or bluntness of the swords ; also 
with the after-eftects of the red-hot shovel, the 
scorpion entremets, and the prickly pear. To begin 
with, there is an utter absence of any trace of 
mental derangement among those dervishes. In 
process of time that is developed. Intoxication by 
Indian hemp may be suspected but cannot be proved. 
But the phenomena of hypnotism are strongly in 
evidence and amply sufficient to account for all the 
occurrences described. There is clear proof of former 
trainino- or experience among these performers which 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic Possession 243 

must not be overlooked. The whole environment is 
favourable to the production of auto-hypnotism. Hell- 
wald, a high authority on this subject, also describes 
the dervishes of Algiers ; remarking that by dancing 
and singing, they are al)le to throw themselves into 
a condition of ecstasy which is difficult to descril^e. 
In this state their bodies seem to be insensible to 
severe wounds. They are said to run pointed iron 
and sharp knives into their heads, eyes, necks, and 
breasts, without injuring themselves.^ 

The aniiesthesia of the hypnotic state is well 
known, and has its adequate physiological explana- 
tion. It must not therefore be reckoned among 
things supernatural. The demoniacs of the New 
Testament suffer from natural insanity or idiocy ; 
but these dervishes suffer from hypnotism, which is 
a transient and artificial mania, as here described. 
Nothing at all genuinely demonic can be discovered 

The demoniacs of China. — They are among the recent 
instances adduced as parallels to the possessed of the 
Gospels. Nevius offers numerous examples of this 
alleged identity.^ He was for forty years a missionary 
in China, and had no medical qualification. The case 
of Kwo, given at length, is a good example of the 
others recorded. This person was discovered by a 
native assistant in 1878. At the date of the first 
interview, he was working in the fields and was then 

^ Moll, Hyimotism, p. 32. 

^ Nevius, Demon Possession and allied Themes. 

244 Demonic Possession in the New Testament 

free from symptoms of mental derangement. He 
conversed rationally, but confessed that he had been 
" troubled with an evil spirit," from which he had 
vainly sought relief. He was advised to believe in 
Christ, and assured that the demon would leave him. 
After prayer, and certain directions, he received some 
Christian books. Six months later, Nevius found him 
in vigorous health of both body and mind. Though 
previously illiterate, Kwo had learned to read and had 
taught his young daughter to do so likewise. His 
age was then thirty-eight, his appearance being normal, 
and his disposition " bright and entertaining." He 
told how the spirit of the adjacent mountain had paid 
him a visit in 1877; but he resisted and cursed it. 
Then he became restless and lost control of himself ; 
so that one day, seized with an irresistible impulse, he 
rushed off to a gambler's den, and there lost ^16 — 
a large sum for him. Starting home, he lost his way 
in the dark, but got home somehow or other ; being 
conscious of what he was doing and saying, in a 
mechanical fashion, and soon forgetting what he had 
said. Then he lost his appetite, and again went to 
his gambling. On returning home, he fell down, 
foaming at the mouth and becoming unconscious. 
On recovering next day, he tried to run away, when 
he staggered. Everything became dark, and he rushed 
back to his room, where he became violent, and 
attacked all who came near him, even attempting to 
shoot his father. For five or six days, he remained 
in a wild raving state ; and when more medicine was 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic Possession 245 

proposed the demon said, No amount of medicine will 
be of any use. From the same source came the 
advice, Burn incense to me and submit yourself to 
me, and all will be well. These statements were 
made by Kwo when he was unconscious, and were 
followed by another attempt to run away. Further 
unconsciousness ensued, and thereafter the demon is 
said to have come only at intervals, sometimes of a 
few days, sometimes of a month or more, when " a 
fluttering of the heart and a sense of fear," and in- 
ability to control himself, were experienced ; and the 
sufferer was obliged to sit or lie down ; there being 
intervals of unconsciousness and mutterings. The 
demon often bade them not to fear, and promised 
his help in the healing of disease. The neighbours 
availed themselves of the promise ; some being healed 
instantly and without medicine ; " many not being 
under the control of the demon." He even failed with 
the child of Kwo ; though asked to cure it. The 
final interview between the demon and Kwo's wife 
is characteristic. ' We understood that you were 
not to return. How is it that you have come back 
again ? The demon replied politely : I have returned 
for but one visit. If your husband is determined to 
be a Christian, this is no place for me. But I wish 
to tell you that I had nothing to do with the death 
of your child. Then the demon was asked : What 
do you know of Jesus Christ ? The answer was : 
Jesus Christ is the great Lord over all ; and now I 
am going away and you will not see me again ! ' 

246 Demonic Possession in the Ncio Testament 

Since that time, it is said that Kwo has not been 
troubled by the demon. 

Is this then a case of genuine possession ? There 
is nothing whatever inexplicable on common medical 
principles. It is a case of epileptic insanity ; with 
its local colouring and its reminiscences of Christian 
doctrine, mingled with native delusions. The other 
cases of Nevius show no more critical acumen, and 
are all natural cases of mental disorders. This writer 
believed these things to be characteristic of demon- 
possession — 

1. Automatic representation and persistent and 

consistent acting out of a new personality. 

2. Evidence of a knowledge and intellectual power 

not possessed by the subject nor explicable 
on the pathological hypothesis. 

3. Change of personality, involving complete change 

of moral character. 
These are but the misapprehensions of an un- 
instructed mind and may be briefly dismissed — 

1. The passage from sanity to insanity implies 

change of personality. The change follows 
a recognised pathological order. 

2. There is sometimes a morbid exaltation of cer- 

tain faculties ; but never any real augmenta- 
tion of intellectual power. 

3. The dictum of Esquirol, already quoted, has in 

view the fact that moral deterioration is an 
integral part of the morbid process. 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic Possession 247 


This question answers itself when the features of 

genuine demonic possession already discovered, are 
recalled — 

1. Mental derangement of some sort or other, 

forming the natural element. 

2. The confession of Jesus as Messiah, forming the 

supernatural element. 
In the whole series of cases, cited or citable, in 
support of the thesis that genuine demonic pos- 
session is independent of place and time, we 
note — 

1. The obvious persistence of the first or natural 


2. The conspicuous restriction of the latter to the 

ministry of Christ. 
The untrained observer has in mind the physical 
symptoms manifested by the demoniacs of the New 
Testament ; and when confronted by persons exhibit- 
ing analogous symptoms, he naturally calls them 
demoniacs also. There is an error of judgment ; 
because the criterion of the Gospels is not in view. 
Its application proves that genuine demonic possession 
ivas a unique p)henomenon in the history of the vjorld ; 
being confined indeed, to the earlier portion of the 
ministry of our Lord. 

' The conflition of the demouolaters and dervishes is essentiallj" a 
temporary and artilicial insanity. 

248 Demonic Possession in the Neto Testament 

OF CHlilST ? 

The increased activity of demons at this date 
requires consideration. An old writer remarks that 
they were now forsaking the ancient oracles and 
taking up their abode in men. The decline of these 
institutions was a fact on which Thucydides and 
Cicero commented, and on which Plutarch composed 
a formal treatise. This work is referred to in proof 
of the foregoing statement. It is a conjecture and 
a fancy which need not be discussed ; as neither the 
location of demons at the oracles nor their trans- 
ference thence to men is capable of proof. More 
suggestive of the proper explanation of demonic 
activity at this time is the passage : Satan is come 
down to you, having great wrath, because he knoweth 
that he hath but a short time (Eev. xii. 12). That 
proposition may be taken as a general principle 
applicable to the present case. The kingdom of 
Satan has its physical and its ethical aspects. The 
former has not been found to be specially in evi- 
dence at this period ; because it has been already 
shown that the Jews in the time of Christ did not 
materially differ from their neighbours in regard to 
their mental temperament and health. The physical 
environment did not contain any novel elements. 
But the other aspect of the kingdom of Satan is 
thrust into great prominence. The spiritual en- 
vironment was wliolly without a parallel. It was 

Alleged Continuance of genuine Demonic Possession 249 

marked by two residual features of surpassing im- 
portance — 

1. The confession of Jesus as Messiah by evil 


2. The suppression of these confessions by Christ 

According to the evidence of the Gospels, these 
demonic testimonies had their beginning and end in 
Him. There is but one explanation of the situation. 
The incarnation initiated the establishment of the king- 
dom of heaven upon earth. That determined a counter- 
movement among the poivcrs of darkness. Genuine 
Demonic Possession was one of its Manifesta- 



Eabbinic Liteeatuee. p. 25. 

Abodah Zara. 

Baba Batlira. 

Baba Kamma. 



Bereshitli Rabba. 



Debarim Rabba. 











Pirqe Abhotb. 

Pirqe de R. Eliezer. 




Sbeinotb Rablia. 



Abod. Zai'a. 

Baba Batbra. 

Baba Kamma. 



Ber. R. 



Debar. R. 











Pirqe Abb. 

Pirqe de R. El. 




.Sbemoth R. 




Municipal law. 

Damages for injuries. 

Tbe Firstborn. 

Prayers and Blessings. 

On Genesis. 

The three great Feasts. 

►Slaughtering animals. 

On Deuteronomy. 

Sabbath boundaries. 


Unintentional sins. 

Marriage contracts. 



Female defilement. 

Tbe harvest corner. 

The Passover. 

The " Lessons." 

Sayings of the Fathers. 

The history of Israel. 

The New Year Feast. 

The Sanbedrin. 

Sabbath observance. 

On Exodus. 

On Numbers and Deu- 

Writing of the Law. 

The Feast of Taber- 

B. — Nomenclature of the Nciv Testament 251 

Taanitli. Taanith. Fasting and Fast Days. 

Tanchuma Mislipatim. Tanch. Misli. On the Pentateuch. 

Yalkut Shinieoni. Yalkut. Shim. On the whole of the 


Yebhamoth. Yeh. The Levirate. 

Yonia. Yoma. The Day of Atonement. 


Nomenclature of the New Testament. P. 61. 

The Authorised Version uses the term " devil " as 
the equivalent of two terms which are severely dis- 
tinguished in the original — 

A. Demon {balij^av, dai/Moviov), one of the subordinate 

powers of evil. 
JJ. Diabolus (3/a/3oXoc), used in a speciiic and generic 
sense — 

(a) Denoting Satan, the great devil, par 
excellence, the head of the kingdom of 
evil. Matt. iv. 5. Mark i. 13. Luke 
iv. 3. 
(Jb) Denoting a slanderer or false accuser — 

Have not I chosen you twelve and one of you 

is a devil 1 John vi. 70. 
Their wives must not be devils. 1 Tim. iii. 11. 
In the last days men will be devils. 2 Tim. 

iii. 3. 
The aged women should not be devils. Tit. 

ii. 3. 

There are also two modes of possession which are 
strictly differentiated — 

1. Demon - possession. This is always associated 

with some form of mental derangement ; but 
no moral consequences are traced to demons. , 

2. Satan-possession. This is never associated vvith\j 

mental derangement; but moral consequences 
are traced to Satanic influence. 

252 Appendices 

The agents of possession are variously designated — 

Demon (dalficov). Matt. viii. 31.^ 
Spirit (TTvevfia). Matt. viii. 16, etc- 
Evil spirit (rrvevixa Trovrjpov). jNEatt. xii. 45, etc.^ 
Filthy spirit {Trvfvfxa aKadaprov). Mark iii. 11, etc* 
Spirit of an unclean demon {TTvevjj.a Saifxovlov aKadaprov). 
Luke iv. .33. 

The subjects of possession are variously designated — 

The demonised (Saipovi^opevoi). Matt. iv. 24. 

Having demons (e'xcov daipovLa). Luke viii. 27. 

Driven by a demon {rjXavvem viro tov baipovlov). Luke 

viii. 29. 
Whom a spirit seizes {nvevpa 'kapj:icn'ei). Luke ix. 39. 
Whom a spirit assails {irvevpa KaraXap^uvei). Mark ix. 18. 
Being in a foul spirit (eV Trvevpan nKaddpro)). Mark i. 23. 
Having a foul spirit (ex*"" •n-vdpa dKadaprov). Mark iii. 30. 
Whom a spirit enters {Twevpa (la-epxfrai). Matt. xii. 45. 
Annoved by spirits (oxXovpivoi vtto nvevpcircov). Acts 

v. 'l6. 
Harassed bv spirits {fvoxXovpevoi drru tj- vevpuraiv). Luke 

vi. 18. ■" 
Containing a spirit {ev w rjv to nvivpa). Acts xix. 16. 

The demoniacs are sometimes said " to have " or 
" to possess " (iyjiv) a demon or spirit. The term 
" possession " has thus scriptural authority ; but 
perhaps it owes its currency to Aristotle's discussion 
of the term 'syji\i (Metcqyhysics, iv. xxiii.). The fourth 
Gospel is not unique in its terminology ; though the 
view of its author regarding the reality of possession 
may be matter of conjecture. He mentions the re- 
proaches cast on Jesus as one possessed ; but he 
records no healing of demoniacs. Ewald in vain tried 
to conjure up such an occurrence between chaps, v. 
and vi. The omission in itself is not surprising, as 
John does not attempt to exhaust the types of 
miracles wrought by our Lord. He has no mention of 
deafness, dropsy, dumbness, fever, lameness, leprosy, 
or paralysis. Silence, therefore, cannot be construetl 
into dissent from the otlier Evangelists. Indeed, Jolm 
1 icf. - nn. ^ nv"i nn. ■* NDn nn. 

C. — Dumh Demoniac v. Blind and Dumb Demoniac 25 o 

is entirely at one with Luke in regarding Judas as 
possessed of Satan. That is a specific point of contact 
which may import agreement elsewhere. 


The Dumb Demoniac versus the Blind-and-Dumb 
Demoniac. P. 90. 

Strauss, De Wette, and Keini here hold to a twofold 
narration of a single incident. That is possible, but 
unlikely. The critical considerations are important ; 
but the medical are more so. Dumb demoniacs do not 
seem to have been numerous in Palestine in the time 
of our Lord. Their rarity is easily explained by the 
great mortality among this class of sufferers, con- 
sequent upon neglect and maltreatment. But the 
survival of blind-and-dumb demoniacs must have been 
still rarer, because of their greater proneness to death. 
The loss of sight, in the latter case, is not a loss to be 
simply added to the existing defects. That new- 
feature implied a most serious advance in the whole 
course of the disease. There was therefore a very 
decided difference between a dumb demoniac and one 
who was both blind and dumb. There is no difficulty 
in regarding both as genuine cases of serious mental 
disease. The historical setting of. the different nar- 
ratives is in complete agreement with this view. 

1. The cure of the dumb demoniac drew forth tlie 
plaudits of the unprejudiced multitudes : It was never 
so seen in Israel! With equal emotion the Pharisees 
declared : He casteth out demons in the prince of 
demons. The charge of conspiring with the prince of 
demons is as yet not much more than tentative. It 
is a coup d'essai. 

2. The cure of the blind-and-dumb demoniac 

254 Ajjpendices 

astounded the unbiassed spectators, wlio said : May this 
not be the son of David ? But the scornful enemies 
deprecated this incipient faith, saying : He has Beel- 
zebul ! Conspiracy with the prince of demons has now 
become possession by him. The charge is now malig- 
nant and clamant. It is a coiqj de grdce. 

There is a progression of events ; also an enhance- 
ment of thought and feeling and activity, in the latter 
case compared with the former. The whole environ- 
ment of the blind - and - dumb demoniac '< is different 
from that of the dumb demoniac. Attempts at 
reduction of the miraculous are here unwarranted. 

Which of the two cases in the first Gospel is the 
true parallel to that in the third ? At first sight, 
there seems nothing to arbitrate upon ; for surely the 
dumb demoniac of Matthew is also the dumb demoniac 
of Luke. Yet Meyer, Arnold, and others take the 
opposite view. That means then that Luke omits the 
mention of blindness, which ought to have been of 
great importance to him as a physician. Yet that is 
not surprising in view of the large number of similar 
omissions. Some of these are very notable ; such as 
the sudden entrance of the Capernaum demoniac into 
the synagogue when furiously maniacal ; the excessive 
activity, the unwearied vigilance, the ghastly mutila- 
tions, of the Gerasene demoniac; the dumbness, the 
deafness, the intractable disposition, the suicidal pro- 
clivities, of the epileptic idiot. This list of omissions 
might be greatly extended ; and is highly instructive. 
It raises questions of authorship ; for the omissions 
are not such as arise out of the reticence imposed by 
the Hippocratic oath. 

In this connection also it is curious to note the 
omission of the miraculous element by Luke — 

The respective reports on the Galilean Ministry 
are — 

Matt. Preaching and healing, iv. 23. 
Mark. Preaching and ejecting demons, i. 39. 
Luke. Preaching onlv. iv. 44. 

D. — Fact-hr/!iis of the Ej^hesian Narrative 255 

The respective reports (»n the Mission of the 
Twelve — 


Mark. Preachings, ejections, anointings, vi. 12, 13. 
Luke. Preaching and healing, ix. 6. 

With Luke, therefore, preaching may inchide heal- 
ing ; and healing may include the cure of the 
demonised. The latter point is implied again in the 
double form of the commission to the Twelve — 

He gave them power and authority over all demons and to 

cure diseases. Luke ix. 1. 
He sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God and to 

heal. Luke ix. 2. 

These two statements are independent so far ; heal- 
ing being common to both. There is no withdrawal 
of the powers conferred in the first verse ; though 
there is no mention of them in the second. The 
healing of the sick thus includes the cure of the 
possessed. This mannerism of Luke is of further 
interest in connection with the Mission of the 


Fact-basis of the Ephesian Nakrative. P. 100. 

Some of the difficulties of the narrative are remov- 
able by the adoption of variant readings (B, D, etc.) ; 
others are immaterial to the study of the case as one 
of possession. In this respect it is of no conse- 
quence whether Sceva is a ruler {up-^M^J), or a priest 
{npixjc), or a high priest (ap^npsvc). His seven sons are 
exorcists wdio are practising abroad. Their adoption 
of this profession in foreign parts and their experi- 
menting with a new Name, potent ii; the hands of 

256 Appendices 

others, are altogether in accord with the historical 
situation. The result of this seance, though very iu- 
glorious, was proof that there was power in the new- 
Name. That determined the continuation of the 
practice in later times as expressly testiiied in Shah. 
14:d. The account of the experiment is eminently free 
from exaggeration, and bears every evidence of being 
thoroughly veracious. The force of the remarks of 
Prof. Eamsay are thus sensibly abated : " In this 
Ephesian description one feels the character, not of 
weighed and reasoned history, but of popular fancy ; 
and I cannot explain it on the level of most of the 
narrative. The writer is here rather the picker-up of 
current gossip, like Herodotus, than a real historian " 
(St. Paid the Traveller, p. 273). 


The Mission of the Seventy. P. 114. 

Notwithstanding the obscurities attaching to this 
narrative, there are sound reasons for accepting it as 
founded on fact. 

1. The Galilean Ministry is historical ; the Pera^an is 
equally sure (Matt. xix. 1 ; Mark x. 1 ; John x. 40). 
Two great divisions of Jewish territory were thus over- 
taken. It would have been passing strange on the part 
of Him whose mission was to the lost sheep of the 
house of Israel, had Judtea, the remaining division of 
the land, been neglected. The Gospel of John implies 
a considerable activity on the part of Jesus in Jerusalem, 
but no Judiean Ministry similar to tliat in Galilee or 
Pera?a. According to Mark iii. 7, 8, those who followed 
Jesus came from — 

{a) Galilee. 
{h) Pera\i. 

E. — The Mission of the Seventy 257 

(c) Parts about Tyre and Sidon. 

{d) Judtea, including Jerusalem and Idumtea.^ 
Christ, as it were, returned the visits of those who 
came from Galilee, Pertea, Tyre, and Sidon. That was 
natural. But we find Him also visiting the outlandish 
region of Decapolis. It is inconceivable that while 
Tyre, Sidon, and Decapolis shared the beneficence of 
Christ, the region of Judsea should remain unvisited. 
The mission of the Seventy fills up the blank; and 
there is good reason for accepting the suggestion of 
Hahn, that Judaea was the objective of the Seventy. 

2. The date is not quite certain. The existence of 
considerable opposition is assumed. The tension is 
similar to that existing towards the close of the 
Galilean Ministry. The outlook is tempered with the 
hope of an abundant harvest (x. 2). The injunctions 
closely resemble those delivered to the Twelve ; proving 
that the conditions of the work are not greatly dis- 
similar. Luke seems to connect this Mission with the 
migration of Jesus from Galilee, through Samaria to 
Jerusalem. The suggestion of Hahn is that the place 
of appointment is Jerusalem ; and the time, the Feast 
of Tabernacles (John vii. 2). The conjecture seems to 
be well founded. 

3. All things indicate a certain urgency. The 
Seventy are appointed without the ceremony of the 
Twelve, who were "called" and "chosen" and "named" 
Apostles (Luke vi. 13); whereas Jesus simply desig- 
nated {av'chii^i'j, — designavit, Vulg.) the Seventy. Greet- 
ings by the way and shifting of quarters are forbidden. 
Christ seems to have been under the necessity of can- 
celling His intention of following the Missioners ; for 
they return to one centre to report. The whole situa- 
tion is intelligible, if the time and place of appointment 
be as supposed. Feeling was then running very high 
in Jerusalem (John vii. 20). 

^ Iduma>a, "tlien practically the southern Shephelah, with the 
Negeb." So, G. A. Smith, Historical Geography. But see 1 Mace, 
vi, 31, etc. 


258 Ajjpendices 

4. The Sanhedrim is not to be thought of in connec- 
tion with the Seventy ; for that body numbered not 
seventy but seventy- one. Nor is it possible to endorse 
the view of the Tubingen School, which finds here a 
reference to the evangelising of the world. It is true 
that the extra-Israelitish nations were computed at 
Seventy on the basis of the fanciful interpretation of 
Gen. xlvi. 27, and Deut. xxxii. 8. But the outlook of 
this Mission is strictly local and temporary. The 
Seventy go to the cities and places whither Jesus 
Himself was about to come. Now Judaea was divided 
into certain districts, enumerated by Josephus and 
riiny. Their lists do not quite agree ; but Schilrer has 
offered a revised list, which comprises Jerusalem, 
Gophna, Akrabatta, Thamna, Lydda, Emmaus, Beth- 
leptepha, Idumaa, Engaddi, Herodeion, and Jericho.^ 
The first and the last of these might be omitted as 
otherwise provided for ; so leaving nine only. If the 
other reading, Seventy-Two,^ be accepted (and it is 
perhaps of equal worth), then there would be eight 
delegates to each district ; so permitting the speedy 
completion of the Mission. The prompt action of 
Christ and the ample supply of labourers thus antici- 
pated opposition and secured a surprising success. 

The historicity of this Mission amply vindicates 
itself as the crown and consummation of the plans of 
Jesus for evangelising the whole land of the Jews. 

The commission and the success of the Missioners 
deserve attention — 

Heal the sick and say to tliem, The kingdom of God is 

come nigh to you. Luke x. 9. 
Lord, even the demons are subject to us in thy name. Luke 

X. 17. 

This remarkable juxtaposition brings into prominence 
a point often referred to, namely, the existence of a 
faith and works alleged to be in excess of the terms of 

^ Schtirer, The Jeivish People, ii. i. p. 157 (f. 
•-SoB, D, M, R, Vulg., etc. 

F. — Greek Demonology 259 

the original commission. These statements have been 
made to work in two directions — 

{n) To the credit of the Missioners as men of rare 

(h) To the discredit of the Apostles who failed with 
the boy. 

But the inference is thoroughly indefensible. There 
is here no work of supererogation, nor shadow of 
reproach; only a threefold mannerism of the third 
Evangelist — 

1. Ejection of demons is included in works of healing. 
The commission of those two parties is coextensive. 
The proof is a comparison of Luke ix. 2, with Luke 
X. 9. 

2. Luke constantly manifests a tender regard for the 
reputation of the Twelve. Disparagement of them is 
here impossible. The account of Peter's fall is a monu- 
ment of magnificent charity. 

3. The main interest of Luke here is not the demonic 
element at all, but the astounding success of the 
Missioners. The joy of Jesus rests on a far wider basis 
than triumphs over evil spirits ; and that feeling He 
shares with t,he delegates : Notwithstanding in this 
rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you, but 
rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven. 


Gkeek Demonology. P. 129. 

From the time of the Christian Apologists, the 
Church passed deeply under " the wisdom of the 
Greeks." Demonology was an integral part of the 
same ; so that it is necessary to give at least a brief 
outline of this branch of ancient lore. The term demon 
(5a/>wv) connects itself with the form hainv — to divide ; 

260 Appendices 

not with da^vai — to know. The demons then are the 
distributors of destiny, not simply the knovnng ones. 

Homer (about 1000 B.C.) uses the term " demon," 
sometimes as the equivalent of deity. Thus, Minerva 
retires to the palace of tegis-bearing Zeus, to the " other 
demons " (//. i. 222). Venus is described as a " demon," 
after her interview with Helen {11. iii. 420). But the 
tendency is to apply the term to lesser personages. 
Hector threatens Diomede : I will give thee to a demon 
{II. viii. 1G6). Athene assures Telemachus that he 
will perceive certain things in his own mind, while a 
demon will suggest others {Od. iii. 27). The sick man, 
pining away, is one on whom a hateful demon has 
gazed {Od. v. 396). ^olus reproaches the luckless 
Odysseus, after his companions had opened the bladder 
containing the winds : How didst thou come ? What 
evil demon has pressed on thee {Od. x. 64) ? The word 
becomes even an abstract form, as in II. xvii. 98, where 
demon stands for " heaven's power." The Homeric 
demons, when not abstractions, are already good and 

Hesiod (about 800 B.C.) divides rational beings into 
four classes — gods, demons, heroes (demi-gods), and 
men. The immortals first made a "golden race" of 
men, when Chronos ruled in heaven. " When doom 
overtook this race, by decree of mighty Zeus, demons 
are they, kindly, dwellers on earth, guardians of mortal 
men, easily observant of deeds of righteousness and 
works of daring, clothed in air, dwelling everywhere 
on earth, givers of riches" {Works and Days, 121-126). 
" Three times ten thousand are they on the bounteous 
earth, immortals of Zeus {ihid. 252, 253)." To his own 
brother, Perses — " the ne'er-do-well " — the poet holds 

^ Lecky, in his History of European Morals, says it is extremely 
doubtful whether the existence of evil demons was known either to the 
Greeks or Romans, till about the advent of Christ. " The belief was 
introduced with the Oriental superstitions which then poured into 
Rome " (i. p. 380). Homer, Empedocles, Plato, Xenocrates, Chrysip- 
pus, and others disprove this statement. It is also opposed to tlie 
teachings of anthropology. 

F. — Greek Demonology 261 

out the hope of being one day " like a demon " {ibid. 314). 
The demons of this poet are therefore all good. 

Thales (about 630-548 B.C.) held that the world was 
animated (^i'M-^uj^ov), and full of demons (Diog. Laert. 
viii. 6). God was the intelligence of the world ; 
demons were spiritual beings ; and heroes the souls of 
the departed. The demons were both good and evil 
(Athenag., Ajjol. xxiii. Of. Plutarch, Plac. i. viii. 2). 

Pythagoras (about 540-510 B.C.) held that demons 
were stronger than men ; but had not the divine part 
unmixed. They shared the nature of the soul and the 
sensation of the body ; being susceptible of pain and 
connate passions (Plutarch, Isis, 25). The whole air is 
filled with demons or heroes, which send dreams to 
men and the signs of sickness or health. They also 
send these to sheep and other creatures, that purifica- 
tions, expiations, divinations, omens, and the like, may 
be referred to them (Diog. Laert. viii. 19). 

Empedocles {floruit 444 B.C.) embodied his views in 
his poem " On Nature," which is extant only as a 
fragment. Though he is often quoted by later writers 
of first rank, it is not easy to ascertain the details of 
his philosophy. According to Plutarch, he taught 
that demons are of a mixed and inconstant nature, and 
are subjected to a purgatorial process which may end 
in their promotion to their former abodes — 

The force of air tliem to the sea pursues, 

The sea again upon the land them spues, 

From land to Sol's unwearied beams they're hurled, 

Thence far into the realms of ether whirled, 

Eeceived by each in turn, by all abhorred. 

Thus chastened and purified, they again attain to 
that region and order suited to their nature (Plut. Isis, 
26). Empedocles attributed to demons all the calam- 
ities, vexations, and plagues, incident to man ; the gods 
themselves being superior to corruption, suffering, and 
error (Plut. Def. Orac. xvi.). 

Socrates (about 470-399 B.C.) claimed to have a 

262 Appendices, 

demon within him which indicated what he was to do 
(Xen. Mem. I. ii. 4).^ It was only an inward voice 
which did not at all oppose his going to death {Apol. 
xix. xxxi.). He scouted the idea that the demon was 
an apparition (Pint. Demon of Soc. xi.). 

Plato (428-347 B.C.) was a poet-philosopher, whose 
meaning is often elusive on this subject. He does not 
exclude the demons from heaven ; remarking that on 
certain occasions Zeus, the greatest sovereign of heaven, 
rides forth in his winged chariot, followed by a host of 
gods and demons {Fhcedrus, Ivi.). He divided all 
superior beings into the uncreated God, and those pro- 
duced by Him for the adornment of the heavens — the 
planets and the fixed stars ; and demons (Athenag. 
Ap. xxiii.). The demons are inferior to stars, but act 
as tutelary officials to men ; being themselves susceptible 
to pleasure and pain and hating wickedness {Epinomis). 
Plato says in another passage that a demon is inter- 
mediate between the divine and the mortal. Such a 
demon is Love, whose function is to interpret and to 
transmit to the gods petitions and sacrifices, thence 
bringing back commands and gifts. God does not 
mingle with men, but through the demons there is all 
intercourse and conversation {Symp)os. 202 D, 203 A). 
Plato repeatedly refers to the Hesiodic demons. In the 
Cratylus (398 B.C.), "golden" means "noble and 
good " ; and a good man would still be called golden, 
because " knowing or wise " {har,iJ.o)v). When a good 
man dies, he has honour and a mighty portion among 
the dead, and becomes a demon ; and every wise man 
who is also a good man is more than human (da.ifj.6vio:), 
both in life and in death. Again, in the EejmUic, 
he quotes Hesiod ; saying that tliose who behave nobly 
in war belong to "the golden age"; and at death become 
demons. Their sepulchres are to be afterwards revered 
as the shrines of such demons. In the same class and 
destined to the same honours, are good men who die in 
tlie course of age or otherwise. Good rulers are also 

' At his trial he spoke vaguely of demons as gods or sons of gods. 

F. — Greek Dcmonology 263 

admitted to this status after death (vii. 17). In regu- 
latino; the lives of animals in the first a^es, Plato 
assumes the co-operation of divine demons with the 
deity {Polit. 271 D E; 274 B.C.). In the Platonic 
Apocalypse, the demon assigned to each person in life 
conducts him to judgment, sometimes not without a 
struggle {Phcedo, 130, 131). There is also a vision of 
" fierce and fiery men," who discharge the function of 
angels of punishment {Rep. x. 14). The majority of 
the Platonic demons are good. 

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) was the son of a physician 
and possessed no small amount of medical knowledge. 
His practical nature rendered him averse to speculating, 
like Plato, on things beyond the mundane sphere. He 
curtailed the realm of the spiritual. In his Meta- 
physics, he mentions four modes of being ; the last being 
demonic (iv. viii.). He recognised the intimate relation 
existing between body and soul, suggesting that a 
change in the quality of the one might induce a corre- 
sponding change in the other. He remarks that insanity 
appears to attach itself to the sonl ; yet physicians, by 
appropriate remedies and dieting, free the soul from 
insanity. He was aware of the power of fever to cause 
delirium {Dreams, ii.). Mental derangements were re- 
ferred to natural causes by this philosopher. Much 
passed under his name which was not his. Such are 
the references to demons inspiring the possessed (Eud. 
Ethics, I. i. 3) ; also the cure of the demonised by the use 
of a stone found in the Nile {Mirah. Auscult.)} 

The Stoics held a somewhat variant doctrine of 
demons among themselves ; but agreed in giving an 
esoteric and exoteric aspect to the same. Thus, reason 
is the governing power of the soul, and is part of an 
emanation from God. As reason is protective against 
evil and is conducive to good, it is the guardian spirit 
or demon of man. A holy spirit, therefore, dwells in 
us, observant of our good and evil deeds, and our 
guardian (Seneca, Epist. xli. 2). This tutelary spirit is 
1 Cr. Plutarcli, De Fluviis. 

264 Appendices 

of Jove's appointment, charged to keep ward, without 
sleeping and without deceit (Epict. Dissert, i. xiv. 12). 
This protector and guide is the nous and logos of each 
one (M. Aurel. v. 27). Seneca could also speak, in the 
popular sense, of each one possessing two tutelary 
spirits {Ejnst. ex. 1). Others of this School required 
demons for complethig their scheme of the universe. 
Thus, if living things exist on the earth and in the sea, 
there must also be intelligent beings in the air which 
is so much purer. These beiugs are demons. In the 
scheme of providence, a part is assigned them by 
Chrysippus, who accounted for evil in the world by 
negligent and restless demons (Plut. Bcpiigr. xxxvii. 2). 
Some demons went about the world as public avengers 
of evil (Plut. Qucest. Bom. 51) ; but this was not 
supposed to interfere with the laws of the universe.^ 
The Neo-Platonists systematised the existing ethnic 
beliefs and purified the same to some extent. The 
virtual founder of this School is Plutarch (about 
50-120 A.D.). The gods are immortal, virtuous, free 
from passion, and immune from sin ; but demons are of 
a neutral or inferior nature, subject to mortal passion 
and necessary change, long-lived, but not immortal 
(Def. Orac. xi. xii. xvi.). He relates the death of Pan 
and gives the report of Demetrius who visited some of 
the outlying islands of Britain, called the Isles of the 
Demons and the Demi-gods. On the arrival of this 
visitor to our shores, there was a severe storm with 
wind and thunder ; believed to denote the death of some 
demon {Bef. Orac. xviii.). Plutarch held that the 
deity is not specially concerned with sacrifices, services, 
and ceremonies. These are entrusted to demons who 
are the spies and scouts of the gods ; others avenging 
and punishing the wicked. Yet not all demons are 
good. They differ in virtue ; some retaining but a slight 
trace of the sensuous and irrational soul ; others possess- 
ing that in high degree {Bef. Orac. xiii.). Certain 

^ The Epicureans rejected both the popxilar tlieology and demonology 
(Plutarch, Bef. Orac. xix, ; Flac. i. S3). 

G. — Goxck Medicine 265 

gloomy festivals, when raw flesh is eaten and the skin 
is torn by the nails, or others when there is fasting and 
beating of the breasts, with uncomely speech, head- 
tossings, and tumults, are for appeasing evil spirits. 
This is the end also of human sacrifices ; certain 
tyrannical demons requiring for their enjoyment, some 
soul still incarnate, and being unable to satisfy their 
evil desire, incite war and sedition, till they get what 
they lust for. Eapes, wanderings, banishments, volun- 
tary servitudes of the gods, are due to demons. They 
are concerned with oracles, which cease on their 
departure ; but emit musical sounds on their return 
{Def. Orac. xiv. xv.). Plutarch thus ekes out his 
doctrine of providence, and fills up the interval between 
gods and men. The good demons are " hermeneutic " 
in the Platonic sense, carrying vows and prayers to 
heaven ; bringing thence prophecies and gifts to men 
{Isis, xxvi.). Demons may personate the gods ; assum- 
ing their name. The position of the demon is not a 
fixture. One might attain to divinity, while another 
might be entangled in a mortal body. 

Plutarch does not refer his demonology to the Magi 
through Zoroaster, nor to Thrace, Egypt, or Phrygia.^ 
Most of it bears the ethnic stamp ; but somewhat 
clarified. Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus, Porphyry, lam- 
blichus, and Proclus largely elaborated the foregoing 
doctrines. The influence of the Neo-Platonic School 
on the writers of the early Church is well marked. 


Greek Medicine. Pp. 129, 137. 

To Greece belongs the honour of being the first to 
discard the barbarous practices of ignorant peoples, 
which connected mental disease with demonic agency. 

1 Keim is in error when he asserts tliat Plutarch was dependent on 
the Mat'i for his doctrine of demons. 

266 Appendices 

This change of view belongs to that brilliant period of 
history which witnessed the finest artistic productions 
of the manifold genius of Greece. Hippocrates was the 
first physician to give it concise expression in his 
treatise on " Epilepsy," or " The Sacred Disease." He 
argues his case with singular felicity and shrewdness, 
refusing to believe that " The Sacred Disease " is more 
divine or sacred than any other. He attributes the 
common opinion to ignorance and the alleged simplicity 
of the cure. Men ought to know that from nothing 
else than the brain come joy, despondency, and lamen- 
tations, while from the same organ come also madness, 
delirium, the assaults of fear and terror, dreams, 
wanderings, anxieties, and other evils. His friend, 
Democritus, is made to say in a (forged) letter that he 
was writing on insanity, and was making dissections of 
animals, not in hatred of the works of the gods, but for 
the discovery of the nature of the gall and the bilious 
humour. This study of nature at first hand underlay 
the practice of Hippocrates. The change of medical 
opinion reflects itself in literature ; not purely in poetry 
which loves to retain the archaic and the pictorial. 
The verb baiixo\ia\i, originally applied to the state of one 
possessed, now comes to denote the condition of one 
non compos mentis. In the Cocpliorm of iEschylus, it 
is said that the house " is distraught {haiixova) with ills." 
In the Ajax of Sophocles, the hero is seized with mad- 
ness {/juavia), jerking out words which a demon and not 
man has taught him. In the Plutus of Aristophanes, 
to be " ill with black bile " is to be " troubled with 
an evil demon." In the Phcenissce of Euripides, the 
possessed (dai/Movuirs;) are those who are " out of their 
senses." Herodotus relates that the Spartans thought 
that the madness of their king was not due to any 
divine influence, but to hard drinking. Plato held that 
there were two kinds of madness, one due to disease, 
the other to an inspired deviation from custom.^ 

^ The classical Sai/xovdv becomes the Hellenistic SaifioviseaOaL. It is 
interesting to note that even Joseplms applies tlie former to the 

G. — Greek Medicine 267 

The Grreek physicians used rational methods of 
treatment. Melampus cured the lycanthropy of the 
daughters of Proetus by the use of hellebore, with 
music and dancing. Hippocrates and Democritus 
judiciously exhibited the same drug. The Hippocratic 
traditions were ably continued in the School of Cos, 
and were carried westwards. 

Asclepiades prescribed fasting in the earlier part of 
the day, simple liquid diet and massage in the evening. 
He was averse to bleeding, fomentations, mandrake, 
poppy, or hyoscyamus. Censorinus relates his employ- 
ment of music as a remedial agent. The bad features 
in his treatment were the use of bonds and the allow- 
ance of gross indulgences after abstinence. 

Celsus Aurelius Cornelius, a Eoman physician, wdio 
flourished under Augustus and Tiberius, was rather 
rough in his methods. He advised hunger, chains, and 
stripes in the case of the more violent patients ; also 
sudden frights. His medical treatment was drastic ; but 
the admirable side of it was the appointment of music, 
recitations, sports, the excitement of cheerful hopes, 
massage, and regular exercise after food. 

Aretseus, the Cappadocian, is sometimes cited as a 
believer in demonic possession. This is a mistake. 
Speaking of acute mania, where self-mutilations occur, 
he remarks that such persons cut themselves as in a 
holy phantasy, as if propitiating peculiar divinities. This 
he regarded as a madness of the apprehension and of 
divine origin, the victim on recovery being bright and 
cheerful as if introduced to the gods. He used the 
lancet cautiously, and followed up depletory measures 
with others for sustaining the strength. He made use 
of bathing, external applications, and cupping, also of 
gestation in a hammock. 

Cailius Aurelianus is the most excellent of the 
ancient alienists. He kept his patients in a room 

state of those frantic with excitement : Certain men persuaded the 
multitudes to act like madmen {Baiixovav, B. J. ii. xiii. 4). Of. 
John X. 20. 

268 Ap2Jcnd'icc8 

properly lit and warmed. The attendant had to 
exclude excitement and avoid the confirmation of 
delusions. The latter were to be corrected by con- 
descension or insinuation, without needless opposition. 
He applied warm sponges over the eyelids to relax 
them and act simultaneously on the coverings of the 
brain. Eestlessness and sleeplessness were combated 
by gestation in a hammock. A sufficient diet was com- 
mended ; excessive indulgences forbidden ; also bonds 
and venesection. During convalescence, theatrical 
entertainments of the graver sort, riding, walking, the 
exercise of the voice, and the pursuit of former 
occupations, were advocated. 

It would be a pleasing task to illustrate further the 
practice of other noted physicians, such as Galen and 
Alexander of Tralles. Enough has been shown to 
indicate how far the Greek physicians were in advance 
of the Jews in the treatment of mental disease. The 
general esteem in which scientific medicine was held 
by the Jews seems to be conveyed in the aphorism : 
The best physicians are destined for hell {Sophcrim. 
C. 15. 10) ! 


Testimonies to the Success of Jesus. Pp. 144, 187. 

It is evident that great potentialities for good must 
have inhered in Him Who is the Moral Miracle of the 
ages. Works of power must have been natural to Him. 
That is the testimony of the Gospels. It receives 
corroboration in the most unexpected quarters. The 
Talmud itself acknowledges so much, when it represents 
Jesus as a successful magician, who had learned the 
art in Egypt, the home of magic {Shah. 75«), which 
had received nine of the ten measures of magic 
allotted to the world {Kidd. 49&). He is said to have 
eluded the Egyptian officers stationed on the frontier 

I. — Fallacies 269 

to prevent the export of the rules and formulse of 
magic ; having hidden these subciitaneously {Shah. 
104i). This perversion of history is, however, weighty 
testimony to the reality of the miraculous in the 
Ministry of Christ. 

The Healing Ministry was a great fact. At the end 
of the day, the bitterest foes of Jesus confessed : He 
SAVED OTHERS ! That emphatic testimony cannot be 
gainsaid. At a later date Quadratus of Athens 
challenged the Eoman world to examine the same 
point. In his Apology to the Emperor Hadrian (76-138 
A.D.), he says : The deeds of our Saviour were always 
before you ; for His miracles were real. Persons were 
healed and were raised from the dead, who were not 
only seen after they were healed or raised up; but were 
constantly in evidence. They remained alive a long 
time, not only when our Lord was on earth ; but like- 
wise after He had left it, so that some of them have 
survived even to our own time (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 
iv. 3). The cure of the demoniacs was a prominent part 
of the Healing Ministry. Jesus dealt with the most 
formidable types of insanity and idiocy. His enemies 
again bear witness to His astounding success. They 
produced their theory of a conspiracy with Beelzebid to 
account for it. The sons of Sceva experimented with 
His Name, at Ephesus. A later generation continued 
the invocation of the same {Shab. l^icl). Here is a 
singular persistency of belief and practice, which is 
undoubted confirmation of Christ's success in the cure 
of the demonised. With Herbert Spencer, we accept 
persistency as the test of reality. 


Fallacies. P. 155. 

Any general estimate of the spiritual prospects of 
the insane is exceedingly hazardous. If the proposition 

270 Appendices 

be seriously entertained that " insanity is much nearer 
the kingdom of God than worldly-mindedness," then an 
answer must be found to these queries. Does mental 
derangement really effect any approximation to the 
kingdom of heaven ? Is the door of the asylum the 
remote equivalent of " the strait gate " ? Do institu- 
tions for the insane discharge quasi-ecclesiastical 
functions ? Was it " quite to be expected " that those 
diseased in their minds, specially those whose thoughts 
moved in the religious sphere, should be among the 
first to recognise the Messiah ? If so, were the sane, 
whose thoughts moved in the same sphere, placed at 
a disadvantage ? Did possession, therefore, constitute 
part of the p)rceparatio evangclica ? Did restoration 
to mental health carry with it spiritual convalescence ? 
To state these questions is to answer them. They 
disclose a fallacy, namely, insanity and worldly minded- 
ness are not two conditions which admit of comparison 
with each other. The attempt to do so involves a 
fundamental confusion between the physical and the 

It is also a serious fallacy to place the most accom- 
plished, the most discerning, and the most suceptible, of 
the friends of Jesus on a lower intellectual level than 
the possessed. The capacity and candour of the former 
are in keenest contrast to the obtusity and caprice of 
the latter. To bracket the young with the demonised 
is an intolerable fallacy. Intelligence is proceeding- 
normally in the case of the former ; it has been arrested 
or eclipsed in the case of the latter. Children were 
attracted to Jesus as the most genial of friends, without 
being able to think of Him as the official Messiah. 
The possessed were in a strait betwixt two ; hailing 
Him now as a tormentor, now as the Holy One of God. 
The tender mood of the docile child is the antithesis of 
the pugnacious demeanour of the raving demoniac. 

J. — The Use of 'po'pular Language hy Jesus 271 


The Use of popular Language by Jesus. P. 159. 

The foregoing conclusions may seem to be at variance 
with the records of the Evangelists — 

Jesus rebuked (tlie lad) ' and the demon went out of liim. 

Matt. xvii. 18. 
Jesus said, I charge thee, dumb and deaf sj^irit, come out of 

him. Mark ix. 25. 
Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the bov. Luke 

ix. 42. 

Harmonists may attempt to reconcile these discrep- 
ancies by a process of amalgamation ; while critics may 
prefer to seek the archaic and germinal matter of the 
real original in the first Gospel. But in neither case is 
the result at all momentous. The variations halt 
between the rebuke of the lad and the rebuke of the 
demon. The precise words used by our Lord on this 
occasion are evidently no longer recoverable. At most, 
it can only be said that a formula was employed which 
was capable of being construed into the menacing 
of an unclean spirit. But Jesus rebuked the fever 
without believing in a fever - demon. He likewise 
rebuked the storm without believing in a storm-demon. 
These things being so, the doubt as to the reality of 
demonic agency in this case can only be resolved by 
the application of the criterion of genuine possession 
and the examination of the symptoms manifested. 
The conclusion is that already expressed. This is not 
the only occasion on which Christ used language which 
was open to distortion by a crude literalism. The 
descriptions of the forty days' temptation, the second 
advent, and the doom of the wicked, have been much 

^ So rendered by the A''ulgate, Theophylact, de Wette, WiDsr, Bleek, 
etc. That is the natural construction and otherwise justifiable. The 
"rebuke" is not merely a word of reproof; it is also the divine 
formula for the suppression of the processes of disorder. Cf. Ps. cvi. 9. 
Nail. i. 4. Mai. iii. 11. 

272 Ajypendices 

misunderstood, on this wise. It may be argued, in 
academic fashion, that for the avoidance of all possible 
misconception, loose linguistic forms ought to have 
been eschewed in the records of revelation. But the 
introduction of a scientific nomenclature was plainly 
beyond the province of Christ as a religious teacher ; 
even had it been feasible otherwise. Christ did all that 
was possible for the removal of vulgar error by showing 
that He had no fellowship with the unfruitful supersti- 
tions of the age. The proofs of His illumination have 
been already set forth. Having made His own position 
clear, He left the rest to the growth of intelligence ; 
bequeathing an invaluable method : Ask, and it shall 
be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it 
shall be opened unto you. 


The Demonising of the Heathen Gods. P. 161. 

" Did the Apostle Paul regard the gods of the heathen 
as demons? " Beyschlag, followed by Dods, has 
answered in the negative ; but the argument is very 
unconvincing.^ It has been shown that the degrada- 
tion of the pagan divinities to demonic rank was one of 
the results of the monotheistic movement in Israel. 
It was projected into the Septuagint and extra-canonical 
literature. In two notable passages, Paul distinctly 
signifies his adhesion to the old prophetic standpoint — 

1. An idol is nothing in the world (1 Cor. viii. 4). 
The Hebrew " nothing " is the sarcastic designation of 
a heathen god, variously interpreted in the Septuagint — 

Lev. xix. 4 Nothings, D''">''^i< Idols, etSwXa. 

1 Chron. xvi. 26 Notliings, D''^''^X Idols, ei'SwXa. 
Ps. xcvi. (xcv.) 5 Notliings, D''Wn Demons, Baifiopia. 

^ Expositor, March 1895. 

K. — The Demonising of the Heathen Gods 273 

2. The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they 
sacrifice to demons and not to God (1 Cor. x. 20). 
This is a quotation from the Septuagint — 

Deut. xxxii. 17 Shedim, DHC Demons, 8mfi6via. 

Dent, xxxii. 17 No god, ni'X"^? Not God, ov 6(6s. 

Here then is a series of synonyms for the heathen 
gods, demons, idols, nothings. The series is a vanishing 
one ; but even when called " nothings," these divinities 
do not shrivel up into non-existence. Over the true 
Israel of God they have no powder at all ; they are 
" nothings." But over their own worshippers they still 
exercise their baleful influence ; they are " demons." 
The argument of Paul, " touching things offered to 
idols," may be thus simply construed — 

In the Lord's Supper, men are the guests of Christ 
and hold a real spiritual fellowship with Him. In the 
feasts of the gods, men are the guests of the gods and 
hold occult fellowship with them. Behind the elements 
in the Lord's Supper is the presence of Christ. Behind 
the elements in the feasts of the gods is the presence 
of demons. To take part in the latter with delibera- 
tion is an act involving the Christian among the powers 
of darkness. "All the gods of the heathen are 
demons " (Ps. xcvi. 5). 

The opinion of Baudissin and Everling that Paul was 
indebted to Alexandrian Judaism for the belief that 
the offerings to the heathen gods were really offerings 
to demons, reveals an anachronism on the part of these 
authorities. Paul goes behind Alexandrian Judaism to 
the original conception of the Hebrew Scriptures. 

Another proof of Paul's adhesion to the pure religion 
of the Old Economy is to be found in the much disputed 
passage : For this cause ought the woman to have 
authority upon her head because of the angels (1 Cor. 
xi. 10). The advice was given to the " new women " of 
Corinth, whose zeal for a spurious emancipation had 
carried them beyond the bounds of propriety. The 

274 Aiipendiccs 

" angels " can hardly be sjjies, or matrimonial agents, or 
presiding ministers. Far less can they be the lawless 
Bene-Elohim of popular story.^ It was uniformly 
understood that their invasion of the world belonged 
to a far-off age, and entailed penalties which prevented 
its repetition. Whether the " authority upon the head " 
(s^ouGia l~t rric -MipaV.ric) be veil or chalebi, remains un- 
certain ; but Paul does not think here of women being 
a temptation to fallen angels nor of demons lurking in 
the tresses of the fair. He is at the standpoint of the 
Psalmist when he says, Before the Elohim {ayysXoi, 
LXX.) will I sing praise unto Thee (Ps. cxxxviii. 1), 
The angels are fellow-worshippers with the saints in 
the services of the sanctuary.^ It is not possible to 
accept here the views of Everling regarding those 
" angels." 


Jesus out of His Senses ? Pp. 178, 184. 

Eegard for the mother and brethren of our Lord 
has led to attempted evasion of the plain meaning of 
i^'iGTV] — in Mark iii. 21. A mistaken ingenuity has 
suggested " exhaustion," " fainting," " ecstasy," " excite- 
ment bordering on insanity," as equivalents for a 
term whose significance is determined by Hippocrates 
(188 D), Euripides {Bacchm, 850), Xenophon {Memor. 
I. iii. 12), etc. It can only mean here that the friends 
of Jesus considered Him insane. Hence their going 
forth to arrest Him {xpa-r,oai alrov, Mark iii. 21). 
Their alarm was real. Possession by a common demon 
or conspiracy with Beelzebul, they might partly under- 

^ See Book of Enoch (\'i.) ; Book of the Secrets of Enoch (xviii.) ; 
Apocalypse of Baruch (hi.) ; Book of Baruch (iii. 26) ; Ecchis. (xvi. 7) ; 
AVisdom (xiv. 6) ; 3 Mace. (ii. 4) ; Testament of Reuben (5, 6) ; 
Yalkut Shim. Ber. 44, etc. 

' Cf. Tobit xii. 12. 

M. — Was Jesus nieknarncd Beelzebul ? 275 

stand. But possession by the 2'>vince of demons ! Wliat 
was that ? No wonder that they rushed off to lay hold 
of Him as one who was more than desperately insane. 
This hasty acceptance of the slander of the enemy 
was more than a mere error of judgment. It drew 
forth the rebuke : Who is my mother ? And who are 
my brethren ? Whosoever shall do the will of God, 
the same is my brother, and my sister, and my mother ! 


Was Jesus nicknamed Beelzebul ? P. 183. 

The suggestion appears on the first sending forth of 
the Twelve ; but the passage (Matt. x. 25) does not 
permit an immediate settlement of the difficulty on 
account of a variant reading. According to the Textus 
Rcccptus, we read : If they have called the master of 
the house {olKohc-ornv) Beelzebul, how much more them 
of his household (o/'/c/axo-jc) ! That asserts the use of 
a nickname. According to another version (D), we 
read : If they have cast up Beelzebul to the master of 
the house {oizohc-orri), how much more to them of his 
household (oIziazoTg) I This hints at a compact with 
the prince of demons. Happily, we do not require to 
embark on the turbulent sea of variant readings ; for 
the after-history puts the matter in clear light. The 
opponents of Jesus, by the very terms of their office, 
were experts in magic. The name of Beelzebul was 
held in private veneration among them. They put 
forth their theory, not in a jocular, but in a serious 
state of mind. But " possession " never meant the 
identification of the subject, with the agent, of posses- 
sion. The personality might be swamped for a time, 
but not permanently effaced. To have called Jesus 
Beelzebul would have been such an identification ; for, 
on the principles of the lower culture, the name is the 

276 Appendices 

equivalent of the personality. It was so in ancient 
Egypt and Babylonia. Even Greek philosophy did 
not entirely escape the confusion. Jesus then could 
not have been nicknamed Beelzebul. The latter was 
only " cast up " to the Master of the house. 


Scene of the Healing of the Blind-and-Dumb 
Demoniac. P. 184. 

There is a considerable hiatus in the second Gospel 
between the choosing of the Twelve and the simple 
remark, He cometh home (Mark iii. 19). That " home " 
is in Capernaum (cf. Mark ii. 1). Meyer notes that 
Mark iii. 22 " still lacks the historical information 
furnished by Matt. xii. 22 f." Yet the same antecedents 
are contemplated by the second Evangelist. On the 
arrival of Jesus there is a huge commotion in the 
town. " The multitude cometh together again so that 
they could not so much as eat bread." Scribes also 
have come down from Jerusalem, — evidently a Vigil- 
ance Committee. The bitter feud against Jesus is 
coming to a climax. Already voices are heard on high : 
" He has Beelzebul, and in the prince of demons 
casteth he out demons." The cure of the blind-and- 
dumb demoniac is, doubtless, the cause of all this stir. 
The friends of Jesus (o/ Tap' a\j-oZ, Mark iii. 21) arrive 
while Jesus is addressing the scribes. They " stand 
without " ; for the dense crowd permits of no nearer 
approach. Whence had they come ? From ISTazareth, 
say Meyer and others. But that is more than doubt- 
ful. Nazareth was some tliirty miles from Capernaum. 
The time to be allowed for the outgoing of the news 
and the incoming of the friends could not be less than 
two days ; but the whole episode occupies but a frag- 
ment of that interval. The friends, if domiciled at 

0. — Did Jesus practise Accommodation? 277 

Nazareth, must have been in the immediate neighbour- 
hood of Capernaum, when the rumour spread abroad : 
He has Beelzebub 


Did Jesus practise Accommodation ? P. 189. 

Accommodation as a therapeutic method is legiti- 
mate within certain limits, but was not practised by 
our Lord, even in the case of the Geraseue demoniac. 
Accommodation, as an ethical procedure, is altogether a 
different matter. Spinoza, in his Tractatas Thcologico- 
politicus} held that while Jesus perceived things, im- 
mediately, adequately, and truly, He yet "accommo- 
dated himself to the vulgar." So then, while He knew 
the truth, He did not choose to communicate it to " the 
vulgar." That is a charge which must go to proof. 

1. It has been shown that Christ had no sympathy 
with the current doctrine of demons ; as far as that 
had reference to their origin, numbers, forms, haunts, 
times of activity, powers, restrictions, management and 
redeeming features. He announced those principles 
which led to the rejection of these superstitions. He 
perceived things, immediately, adequately, and truly ; 
and did not withhold His knowledge from " the 
vulgar." The mere suggestion of accommodation is 
here manifestly out of place. 

2. It has likewise been shown that Christ had 
neither part nor lot in the current practices of exorcism. 
He never employed the common fumigations or magic 
formulae. He offered no spectacular demonstration of 
His success in the treatment of the possessed. He 
held aloof from these absurdities ; because He perceived 
things, immediately, adequately, and truly. He frankly 
imparted His secret to others : If I cast out demons in 

1 See " Divine Law." 

278 Appendices 

the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come 
upon you. Again therefore the suggestion of accom- 
modation is untenable. 

3. Jesus had no interest whatever in the practice of 
accommodation. He had no faihires to hide from men. 
His success was as invariable as it w^as indisputable. 
He had no desire to magnify the miraculous element 
in His ministry, and fled repeatedly from an embarrass- 
ing popularity. The notoriety of the thaumaturge was 
clearly abhorrent to Him. This sinister charge of 
accommodation fails utterly to substantiate itself. 


Ejection of Demons by Fasting. P. 193. 

The textual authority for the retention of " fasting," 
in Mark ix. 29 (Matt. xvii. 21), is not great. It has 
served the turn of some persons to discredit the 
Apostles as guilty of some sort of prior indulgence. 
But the insinuation is quite unwarranted. Christ was 
no ascetic. He was defamed as a " glutton and a wine- 
bibber." He also defended His disciples against the 
charge of being lax in the observance of conventional 
fasts. Abstinence was never regarded by Him as 
possessed of any occult or dynamic virtue. So the 
attack on the reputation of the Twelve fails. But the 
" fasting " has an interest of its own. 

1. Was the fasting to be done by the exorcist him- 
self ? Among primitive races in America, Africa, and 
India, fasting holds a recognised place in the curri- 
culum of the sorcerer and the magician, as a means 
of acquiring superhuman powers through ghostly 
intercourse. Porphyry, as a Neo-Platonist, lauded the 
practice. He notes that the theologians ordered those 
whom they permitted to sacritice, to abstain from the 

p. — Ejection of Demons hy Fasting 279 

victims and to purify themselves by fasting and 
abstinence from animals. Purity thus secured its 
possessor against the attacks and allurements of 
demons. It also secured the aid of friendly spirits, 
who indicated, through dreams and symbols and 
omens, what might come to pass and what might be 
avoided.^ Among the various modes of ejecting 
demons, in the early Church, fasting on the part of 
the exorcist is not mentioned. 

2. Was the fasting to be done by the possessed ? 
In the Testament of Simeon, fasting with the fear of 
the Lord is prescribed for the conquest of the demon 
of envy. In the Clementine Homilies, abstinence and 
fasting and the suffering of affliction are advised as 
most useful for putting demons to flight. For if the 
demons enter the bodies of men with a view to 
sharing pleasures, it is clear that they are put to flight 
by suffering.^ This would make the fasting a relic of 

3. But the fasting may refer to the treatment of 
epileptic patients. That requires us to glance briefly 
at the treatment of epilepsy in the Greek schools of 
medicine. After an attack, Hippocrates ordered a 
restricted diet ; and this practice was generally fol- 
lowed. Celsus prescribed abstinence from food for 
three days after a seizure ; then a limited and inter- 
mittent diet. Areta?us reduced the allowances of 
epileptics, and required total abstinence from certain 
kinds of animal food, during convalescence. Cffilius 
Aurelianus also enjoined fasting and the restriction of 
the dietary. Alexander Trallianus was also severe in 
this respect. If then this interpolation contemplated 
those methods of treating epileptic convulsions ; in 
this combination of prayer and fasting, we have the 
union of means, religious and scientific. 

1 De Ahdinentia, ii. 44, 53. - ix. x. 

280 Appendices 


The popular Treatment of Epilepsy. P. 193. 

The Jews employed fumigations and adjurations ; 
also probate amulets, and bats (siiyn y^^).^ The demon 
had to be disgusted or terrorised. Pliny has preserved 
(H. N. passim) some popular Eoman recipes which are 
samples of others elsewhere. Among these are several 
which, for sheer repulsiveness, will not bear transcrip- 
tion. He mentions goat's flesh grilled on a funeral 
pyre ; goat's suet and bull's gall, boiled in equal pro- 
portions ; the heart of a black ass with bread, on the 
first or second day of the moon ; the flesh or blood of 
an ass, with vinegar, for forty days ; the brain of an ass 
smoked with burning leaves, in hydromel ; the hoofs of 
an ass, reduced to ashes, for a month ; the flesh of a 
sucking puppy ; the ashes or slough of a spotted lizard, 
or the animal itself ; the flesh of a green lizard ; the 
brain of a weasel. Aretseus mentions the vulgar use 
of the brain of a vulture ; the raw heart of the cormor- 
ant or of the domestic weasel (cat ?) ; the blood of a 
gladiator; the human liver. 


Witchcraft. P. 234. 

The devil of the Middle Ages, while possessing a 
residuum of horror and repulsiveness, w^as mostly an 
object of laughter and contempt. He did not appear 
in witchcraft till the eight and ninth centuries. At a 
later date, persons were tried on this charge ; but few 
suffered at the stake. In the tenth century, the devil 
began to be taken more seriously. The Seer of Patmos 
had spoken of the fulfilment of " the thousand years," 

^ So Gesenius. Cf. Sliab. 61. 

R. — Witchcraft 281 

to be followed by the loosing of Satan " for a little 
season " (Eev. xx. 3). The pulpits of Europe now 
began to resound with the announcement that the 
time was at hand. There were many things which 
apparently warranted such an expectation. Wide- 
spread calamities had engendered a deep depression 
among the people. Dark superstitions had invaded 
the Church. Gross proliigacy prevailed in the highest 
religious circles. The infamous Theodora and her two 
notorious daughters constituted " the pornocracy " so 
called. To disasters, physical, political, moral, and 
religious, were added the portents of eclipses and 
comets. A reign of terror was inaugurated, wherein 
Satanic and demonic superstitions paralysed the ener- 
gies of nations. The once silly devil had become the 
formidable enemy of mankind. The very figure of 
Christ, as the Good Shepherd, retreats before this king 
of terrors. According to Didron,^ " Christ appears more 
and more melancholy, and often truly terrible. It is 
indeed the rex trenundm majcstatis of the dies ircc." 
The dread thus reflected in the realm of art, affected 
also the sphere of law. Satan was said to have smitten 
Job with boils, to have been the prince of the power of 
the air, and to be capable of transforming himself into 
an angel of light. What more probable than that his 
confederates, the witches, should smite with pestilence, 
transport themselves through the air, and work Satanic 
miracles ? The witches were therefore the enemies of 
the human race, the victims of popular fury, and the 
objects of new legislation. Devil-possession was thus 
of more consequence than demon-possession. 

The thousand years had concluded and the world 
still stood. But the expectation of the end of the age 
revived in the earlier part of the fourteenth century. 
The terror of the period increased from various causes. 
Constantinople fell before the Turks in 1453. The 
bull of Innocent viii. (Summis desiderantes, 1484) 
intensified the superstition of witchcraft. Three years 

' Lecky, Jliie and Influence of Rationalism, p. 56. 

282 Appendices 

later, Jakob Sprenger published his Malleus Malc- 
ficarum ; settling the form of procedure against 
witches. Society was increasingly impressed by the 
ubiquity of the powers of evil. In the interval between 
the thirteenth and the sixteenth centuries, the epidemic 
insanities of the Flagellants and the Dancers had 
broken out. The mental balance of Europe was almost 
overthrown. The death-roll of the witches waxed 
amazingly. For them no tortures were too severe, no 
sympathy too scant. The Eeformation made little 
difference in those practices which claimed the sanction 
of Scripture. Luther believed in the devil possess- 
ing the blind, the dumb, the deformed. " The devil 
has firebrands, bullets, torches, spears, and swords, with 
which he shoots, darts, and pierces, when God permits. 
Therefore, let no man doubt when a fire breaks out 
which consumes a village or a house, that a little devil 
is sitting there, blowing the fire to make it greater." 
Calvin was far from accepting such a view of the 
matter ; but, when remodelling the constitution of 
Geneva, he left the laws relating to witchcraft un- 
touched. James vi. and i., our British Solomon, deemed 
himself a personcc ingratissima to the devil ; and wrote 
his Demonologie, in three volumes. Returning from 
Norway with his bride in 1590, he encountered a storm 
which he believed the Scotch and Scandinavian witches 
had brewed for him. The atrocious tortures applied to 
Dr. Fian, as arch-conspirator, are frightfully significant 
of the age. 

Apart from those who were the victims of malice 
and injustice, those who suffered for witchcraft were 
mostly insane. The majority were women. Many of 
them suffered from melancholy with its hallucinations, 
self-accusations, and religious fancies. Not a few 
suffered also from lycanthropy, and infested the country 
as dangerous lunatics. In the nocturnal revels of these 
insane creatures, the primitive cult of the devil- 
worshipper and the lycanthrope is evident ; recalling 
the classical Bacchanalia and the Lupercalia. Their 

E. — Witchcraft 283 

stews of infants' flesh, toads, frogs, etc., arc snrvivals 
of ancient "hell-broths." The crimes alleged against 
these unfortunates were not new to history ; but were 
punished under a novel guise. The last execution of 
witches in England took place in 1712; the last in 
Scotland, in 1722 ; the last in Switzerland, in 1782. It 
has lieen reckoned that in the interval elapsing between 
the bull of Innocent viii. and the cessation of those 
prosecutions. Nine Millions pekished. 

These horrors determined a reaction against the 
theory of witchcraft, which is essentially pagan. John 
Wier, a Protestant physician, uttered the first clear 
note of dissent in his De Prccstirjiis Bccmomim, in 1563. 
He asserted that all witches were under the delusion of 
the devil ; but had made no godless compact with him. 
Thomas Hobbes attacked the current superstition in 
his Leviathan, in 1651. Eeginald Scot learnedly 
refuted the prevalent delusion, in his Discovery of 
Witchcraft, in 1657. Balthasar Bekker denied the 
reality of sorcery, magic, and devil-possession ; even 
the existence of the devil, in his Die hetorerde Weereld, 
in 1691. Christian Thomasius announced that the 
doctrine of the devil was not essential to Christianity, 
in 1707. Dr. Mead, one of the royal physicians, ex- 
pressed the opinion that the demoniacs of the ISTew 
Testament were lunatics, in his Meclica Sacra, in 1749. 
A similar view was held by Lardner, On the case of the 
Demoniacs, in 1758 ; also by Semler, in his Commentatio 
de Demoniacis, in 1760 ; and by Farmer, in his Essay 
on the Demons of the New Testament, in 1775. On the 
other side, were writers not less learned, but more 
conservative ; such as Jean Bodin, who answered Wier, 
in his Demonomanie des Borders, in 1581 ; and Joseph 
Glanvil, who combated the rising scepticism, in his 
Sadducismus Trmmphatus, in 1681. By this time the 
witch-burning mania had well-nigh spent itself. 

These writers neither destroyed nor established the 
authority of the Scriptures. They busied themselves 
with erroneous interpretations of the same. Witch- 

284 Appendices 

craft was not the legitimate outcome of the teachings 
of the Bible ; hut an excrescence upon it, claiming its 
sanction. The whole movement was at bottom an acute 
paganising of Christianity, undei' ausjnces nominally 
Christian. The doctrines and practices of witchcraft, 
even part of the legislation against it, ivere pix- Christian. 
These facts dispose of the adverse comments of HiLxley, 
in this regard.'^ 

^ "Agnosticism," i\^i;jetee?ii/i Cenhiry, Feb. 1889. 


Abraham as a magician, 57. 
Accommodation, 204 f., 277 f. 
Ahriman. Sec Angro-Mainyu. 
Akom-mano, 25. 
Angro-Mainyu, 24 f., 41. 
Apollonius as exorcist, 144. 
Ashmedai. Sec Asmodreiis. 
Asmodwus, 24 f., 37 ff., 92, 126. 
Azi-Dahaka, 25. 

Baalzebub, a fly-god, 179 f. 
Baaras, the mandrake, 127. 
Bacchanalia, 282. 
Barnabas, Epistle of, 219. 
Banich, Book of, 22. 
Beelzebul controversy, the, 11, 

174 ff. ; its sequel, 190 ff'. 
Bel-Ea, 182 f. 
Bel-Mul-lil, 182 f. 
Bene-Elohim, the, 22, 42, 274. 
Bidding Prayer, the, 231 f. 

Capernaum as focus of the Dia- 

spor.% 104. 
Christ and common demonology, 

50 tr. 

Christ and common magic, 57 ff. 

Christ's freedom from supersti- 
tion, cause of, 69 f. 

Christ's treatment of the pos- 
sessed, 137. 

Cingalese, the, 19. 

Clairvoyance, 151 f. 

Classification of the possessed, 
157 ff. ; results of, 163 ff. 

Cockcrow and the demons, 46, 

Confession of Jesus as Messiah, 
significance of the, 151 H". 

Convulsionnaires, the, 23G f. 

Criterion of genuine pessession, 

Cro-Magnon race, the, 42. 

Cross, sign of the, 229, 234. 

Cutha, legend of, 14. 

Dancing manias, the, 235 f., 282. 

David's feigned dementia, 1U8. 

Decapolis, 103 f., 120. 

Degraded gods as demons, 17 f. 

Demetrian, Epistle to, 229. 

Demoniac of Capernaum, the, 
64 ff., 122. 

Demoniac of Gerasa, the, 69ff., 123; 
scene of the healing of, 194 ff. 

Demoniac, the blind and dumb, 
89 f., 162,'174f.,253ff.; scene of 
the healing of, 276 f. 

Demoniac, tlie dumb, 88 f., 162, 
174 f., 253 ff. 

Demoniacs of China, the, 243 ft'. 

Demoniacs, strength of, 75, 161 f. 

Demoniac state, significance of the, 

Demonic inspiration, 156. 

Demonising of heathen gods, 17 ff. , 
272 ff 

Demonolaters of India, 237 f. 

Demonology of tlie Old Testament, 
13 ft'. ; of the Septuagint, 21 f. ; 
of the Apocryphal and Apoca- 
lyptic Bonks. 22 tr. ; Rabbinic, 
25 ft'. ; Ethnic, 40 ft'. ; Greek, 
259 ft'. 



Demonomaiiia of South-Easteni 
Europe, the, 234 f. 

Demons, Rahbinic, their origin, 
numbers, forms, haunts, times 
of activity, powers, restric- 
tions, management, redeeming 
ieatures, 25 tf. ; ethnic parallels, 
40 ff. ; attitude of Christ to, 
51 if. 

Dervishes of Algiers, the, 240 ff. 

Devil, use of the term, in the New 
Testament, 251. 

Diagnosis, data of a, 61 f. ; uses 
of a, 62. 

Didache, the, 216 f. 

Dilemma, the, possession real or 
unreal, 8. 

Diognetus, Epistle to, 220 f. 

Donatus, Epistle to, 135. 

Double consciousness, 74 f. 

Druj Xasu, the, 44, 48. 

Ea, 132, 182 f. 

Earring, 128. 

Eleazar, the magician, 126, 128, 

Enoch, Book of, 23, 42. 
Enoch, Book of the Secrets of, 42. 
Environment peculiar in the time 

of Christ, 248 f. 
Ephesian demoniac, the, 99 ff., 

161 f. 
Ephesian Letters, the, 133. 
Ephesian narrative, fact-basis of 

the, 255 f. 
Epilepsy not possession, 62 f. ; 

popular treatment of, 280. 
Epileptic idiot, the, 81 If., 123, 

158 f. 
Evil and unclean, significance of 

the terms, 121 tf. 

Failure of the Nine, 191 ff. 

Fairy hosts, the, 14. 

Fallacies, 269 f. 

Fasting and ejection of demons, 

278 f. 
Flagellants, the, 282. 
Fly-gods of the ancient?, 179 f. 
Folic a deux, 197 f. 
Freudenschmerz, 79. 

GEyuiXE demonic" possession, 
147 tf. ; criterion of, 150 ; ante- 
cedents of, 165 ff. ; limits of, 
171 ft'. ; local and tenijjorary, 

Gerasene affair, the, 11 ; difii- 
culties of, 194 ft'. ; scene of, 
194 ff. ; number of the demon- 
ised, 197 f. ; alleged transmi- 
gration of the demons, 199 f. ; 
data for a reconstruction, 200 ff. ; 
stampede of the herd, 207 ft'. ; 
loss of the swine-owners, 213 f. ; 
worth of some criticisms, 214 f. 

Heilpkin on the natatorial 
powers of swine, 214. 

Hell, the sign from, 189 ; routes 
to, 201. 

TIell-broths, 130, 283. 

Hermas, Shepherd of, 217 f. 

Hezekiah as a magician, 57. 

Historicity of the Gospel narrat- 
ives, 148 ft'. 

Huxley - Gladstone controversy, 
the, 11, 196 f. 

Hypnotism, 173, 242 f. 

Idiot boy, the. See Ejiileptic 

Ignatius, Epistles of, 219 f. 
Incarnation, the, and possession, 

Infirm woman, the, 92 ft". 

Jesi's nicknamed Bcelzebul, 275 f. 

Jesus out of His senses, 274 f. 

Jews compared, with Greeks and 
Romans, 115 ff. ; Avith the 
peoples of the British Isles, 
117 ft'. 

Jinn, the, 15 f., 19, 43, 49. 

Jubilees, Book of, 23. 

Judith, Book of, 217. 

Jumpers, the, 236. 

Khonsu, the demon-driver, 134. 

Leoiox, 76. 

Lilin, the, 25 f., 44. 

Lilith, 15, 16 1'., 26 f., 44, 55. 



Lord, of dung, 181 ; of the dwell- 

incr, 181 ff. 
Luke's mannerisms, 201, 254 f. , 259. 
Lupercalia, the, 282. 
Lycanthropes, 110 f., 115, 282. 
Lycanthropy, 110 f., 115, 282. 

Magic, black and white, 58. 
Mandrake, the, 126 f. 
Mary Magdalene, 90 If., 162. 
Mazziqiu, the, 25. 
Medicine, Greek, 129, 265 ff. 
Mental health of the Hebrews, 

108 ff. 
Mental temperament of the 

Hebrews, 106 ff. 
Messianic hope, the, 154 ff. 
Milesian Letters, the, 133. 
Moor-cock, the, 39. 
Moral therapeutics, 142 ff. 

Naggar-Tuka. See Moor-cock. 

Naturalness of the ethnic theory 
of possession, 120 ff'. ; of the 
terms "evil" and "unclean," 
121 tf. 

Nebuchadnezzar's ' lycanthropy, 
110 f. 

Nomenclature of the New Testa- 
ment, 251 ff. 

Nose-ring, the, 128. 

Number of the possessed, 103 ff., 

Opium-eaters of Bombay, 79. 
Oracles, 46, 96 f., 248. 

Parable of the last state, the, 
189 f. 

Passing of Pan, the, 47. 

Patriarchs, Testament of the 
Twelve, 23, 279. 

Polycarp, Epistle of, 220. 

Popular language, use of, by Jesus, 
271 f. 

Population of Palestine, 105 f. 

Possession, in sub-apostolic times, 
216 ff. ; in ante - Nicene and 
post-Nicene times, 221 ff. ; in 
mediaeval and modern times, 
233 ff.; manifold, 203 f.; medical 

aspects of, 61 ff. ; of animals, 

202, 225, 227. 
Potocr on the head, 274. 
Proofs of expulsions of demons, 

144 ff. 
Prophetic art, the, 96 ff. 
Psychological explanations of 

Strauss, Kenan, Keim, and 

Matthew Arnold, 138 ft'. 
Pythoness of Delphi, the, 97, 115 ; 

of Philippi, 96 ff., 159. 

Rabbinic literature, 250 f. 
Rabbis, the, as miracle-workers, 

58 f. 
Rameses xii. and Konsu, 134. 
Raphael and Asmodreus, 25. 
Recipes for seeing demons, 26, 41. 
Resjwnsibility of the possessed, 

124 f. 
Ruchin and Ruchoth, 25. 

Sarah and Asmodreus, 24, 126. 
Satan casting out Satan, 132, 177, 

185 f. 
Satan-possession, 178, 251. 
Satan-Sammael, 25. 
Scarab-beetle, the, 179. 
Sea-fight of Tarich pea, the, 213. 
Seirim, the, 15, 16, 25. 
Sennacherib, 105. 
Septuagint, the, 21. 
Seventy, the mission of the, 11 3 f., 

256 ff". 
Seventy, the, versus the Twelve, 

258 f. 
Shadow-figures, 13 ff. 
Shakers, the, 236. 
Shamir, 37 ff. 
Shedim, the, IS, 25. 
Shidu, 18. 

Sibylline Oracles, 22. 
Solomon as a magician, 37 ff"., 57, 

Sorcery, 58 f. 

Southern Semites, the, 15. 
Success of Jesus, the, testimonies 

to, 268 f. 
Suicide, 107 f., 117. 
Syro-Phccnician girl, the, 86 ff., 




Tarantism, 235. 

Terapliim, 14, 51. 

Theurgy, 58. 

Thot, 131, 179. 

Tigretier, 236. 

Tobit, Book of, 24, 52, 126, 220. 

Trade, Oriental, of the Roman 
Emiiire, 104. 

Transmigration of demons, alleged, 
199 f., 202. 

Treatment of the insane by Greek 
physicians, 266 fi\ 

Treatment of the possessed among 
the Hebrews, coaxing, disgust- 
ing, and terrorising, 125 ff. ; 

ethnic parallels to, 129 ff., 136 f. ; 
in ante-Nicene and }iost-Nicene 
times, 221. 
Treatment of the possessed by 
Christ, 137 fi". 

Ur (Mugheir), 14. 

Vampire, the, 17. 
Ventriloquists, 161. 
Vespasian, 126, 144. 

Wkre-avolf, the, 42, 111. 
Witchcraft, 280 ff. ; death-roll of, 
283 ; reaction against, 283. 


^LIAN, 15. 

jEschylus, 266. 

Alexander Trallianus, 63, 268, 

Animonius Saccas, 226, 265. 
Apollonius, 144. 
Apuleiiis, 130. 
Aietseus, 63, 267, 279, 280. 
Aristophanes, 161, 266. 
Aristotle, 115, 252, 263. 
Arnold, M., 141 ff. 
Asclepiades, 267. 
Athenagoras, 228. 
Augustine, 197. 
Augustus, 105. 

Barnabas, 219. 

Baudissin, 14, 180. 

Baur, 113. 

Bekker, 283. 

Berosus, 14. 

Beyschlag, 272. 

Bleek, 141, 181, 198, 207, 271. 

Bodiu, 283. 

Brauu, 8. 

Brecher, 130. 

Browning, 110. 

Bruce, 4, 62, 154, 269 f. 


Caldwell, 237. 

Calvin, 197, 282. 

Celsus, C. A., 83, 116, 267, 279. 

Celsus, 91. 

Censorinus, 267. 

Cheyne, 51. 

Chrysippus, 260, 264. 


Chrysostom, 197, 230, 231. 

Cicero, 248. 

Clement of Alexandria, 99, 133, 

Clement of Rome, 217. 
Coke, 85. 

Conybeare, 8, 219. 
Cornelius. 233. 
Cyprian, 135, 228, 229. 
Cyril, 229, 233. 

D'Alviella, 202. 
Darmesteter, 24. 
Delitzseh, 8, 169. 
Democritus, 266, 267. 
Didron, 281. 
Dieringer, 168. 
Dods, 272. 

Ebraed, 198. 
Edersheim, 8, 202. 
Empedoeles, 260, 261. 
Epictetus, 264. 
Epicureans, 264. 
Esquirol, 122, 246. 
Euripides, 98, 115, 266, 274. 
Eusebius, 233, 269. 
Eustathius, 133. 
Everling, 273, 274. 
Ewald, 8, 80, 207. 

Farmer, 8, 283. 
Farrar, 3, 77, 202, 207. 
Fritzsche, 24, 181. 
Fuller, 24, 

Galen, 63, 94, 161, 268. 


Index of Names 

Gaster, 51. 

Geikie, 8. 

Gesenius, 181, 280. 

Gfrbrer, 8, 113. 

Glanvil, 283. 

Gore, 8. 

Gould, 7. 

Gregory of Nazianzen, 179. 

Gregory the Great, 233. 

Hahn, 257. 

Hase, 141. 

Heilprin, 214. 

Hellwald, 243. 

Herma.s, 217 ff. 

Herodotus, 79, 115, 256, 266. 

Hesiod, 49, 260, 262. 

Hesychius, 133. 

Hilarion, 166. 

Hilgenfeld, 181. 

Hippocrates, 94, 116, 266, 274. 

Hippolytus, 229. 
Hitzig, 181. 
Hobart, 63, 94. 
Holibes, 283. 
Holtzmann, 65, 141, 198. 
Homer, 133, 260. 
Horace, 116. 
Hort, 195. 
Huxley, 194, 214, 284. 

Iamblichus, 265. 
Ignatius, 219 f. 
lunocent viii., 281. 
Irenseus, 228. 

Jahn, 181. 

James vi., 282. 

Jerome, 166, 178, 195, 202, 230. 

Josephus, 27, 52. 101, 105 tf., 110, 

120, 126 ff., 144, 155, 213, 258, 

Justin Martyr, 101, 126, 131, 221, 


Keim, 20, 65, 140 f., 195, 199, 

253, 265. 
Kohut, 25, 51. 

Lachmann, 195. 

Lactantius, 228 f. 

Laertes, 261. 

Lagarde, 91. 

Lange, 80, 151 f., 207. 

Lardner, 8, 283. 

Lecky, 260, 281. 

Lee, 236. 

Lenormant, 51, 58, 134, 180. 

Lightfoot, 32, 91, 166, 181. 

Lueian, 63, 97, 102, 128, 133. 

Luther, 282. 

Lutteroth, 208. 

Mahaffy, 134. 

Marcus Aurelius, 264. 

Martin of Tours. 230. 

Maspero, 17, 111, 179. 

Mead, 8, 283. 

Melampus, 267. 

Meyer, 2f., 20, 93, 99, 113, 181, 

209, 276. 
Michaelis, 181. 
Minucius Felix, 222 f., 228. 
Moll, 243. 

Neaxdek, 8, 141. 
Neo-Platonists, 47, 226, 264. 
Nevius, 145, 243 ff. 

Olshausen, 78 f., 80, 125, 167 f. 
Origen, 131, 195, 202, 226 if., 229, 

232 f. 
Orpheus, 179. 

Papias, 221. 

Paulus, 141, 181, 207. 

Philo, 40. 

Philostratus, 144, 179. 

Plato, 13, 98 f., 115, 222, 260, 

262 f., 266. 
Plautus, 116, 160. 
Pliny, 116 f., 127 f., 130, 180, 

258, 280. 
Plotinus, 265. 
Plummer, 8. 
Plutarch, 47, 115, 133, 160, 248, 

261, 263 ff. 
Polycarp, 220. 
Porphyry, 265, 278. 
Pressense, 8, 163. 
Proclus, 265. 

Index of Names 


Ptolemy Pliiladelphus, 21. 
Pythagoras, 214, 261. 

quadratus, 269. 

Ramsay, 256. 
Rasbi, 34, 57. 
Kenan, 92, 112, 139 f. 
Rosenmiiller, 208. 
Row, 8. 

Sanday, 8. 

Sayce, 17, 51, 92. 

Schenkel, 141. 

Schleiermacher, 141. 

Schorr, 51. 

Schiirer, 52, 258. 

Schwartzkopff, 8. 

Scot, R., 283. 

Scott, Sir W., 77. 

Semler, 283. 

Seneca, 264. 

Serenus Samonicus, 130. 

Shakespeare, 127, 130. 

Smith, G. A., 257. 

Smith, W. R., 16. 

Socrates, 222, 224, 261. 

Sophocles, 115, 266. 

Spencer, 40 f., 75, 269. 

Spinoza, 277. 

Spren£,'er, 282. 

Stagirius, 230. 

Steinmeyer, 8, 163. 

Stoics, 48, 263 f. 

Strauss, 113, 138 ff., 199, 214, 

Suetonius, 155. 
Sulpitius Severus, 230. 

Tacitus, 155. 
Tertullian, 224 fl". 
Thales, 261. 
Theocritus, 22. 
Theophylact, 271. 
Thoraasius, 283. 
Thomson, 195. 
Thucydides, 248. 
Tischendorf, 195. 
Tregelles, 195. 
Trench, 8, 80, 95, 
Tristram, 240. 
Tylor, 129. 

125, 169 r. 

Virgil, 99. 
Volkmar, 181, 207. 

Wagner, 84. 

Weiss, 63, 170 f., 198, 209. 

Weizsacker, 141. 

Wendt, 6f. 

Wesley, 236. 

Westcott, 195. 

Wetstein, 8, 213. 

Wette, De, 113, 141, 181, 

Whitehouse, S. 
Wier, 283. 
Williams, 236. 
Wilson, Sir C. W., 196. 
Windischmann, 24. 
Winer, 141, 271. 
Woolston, 214. 

Xenocrates, 260. 
Xenophon, 274. 

Zoroaster, 25, 49, 265. 




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Minor Prophets. 


Ezra and Nehemiah. 


T. K. Cheyse, D.D., Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy 
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A. R. S. Kennedy, D.D., Professor of Hebrew, University of Edinburgh. 

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G. Buchanan Gray, M.A., Lecturer in Hebrew, Mansfield Collece, 

George Adam Smith, D.D., Professor of Hebrew, United Free Church 
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Francis Brown, D.D., Professor of Hebrew and Cognate Languages, 
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A. B. Davidson, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Hebrew, New College, 

A. F. KiRKPATRiCK, D.D., Regius Professor of Hebrew, and Fellow of 
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W. R. Harper, Ph.D., President of Chicago University. 

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Synopsis of the 

Four Gospels. 





The Pastoral Epistles. 



The Johannine 




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Arch. Robertson, D.D., Principal of King's College, London. 

Rev. Ernest D. Burton, A.B., Professor of New Testament Literature, 
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Walter Lock, D.D., Dean Ireland's Professor of Exegesis, Oxford. 

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Bv James Sime, M.A. 

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Francis and Dominic. 

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J. C. Carrick, B.D. 

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Lessing and the New Humanism. 

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Hume and his Influence on Philo- 
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J. Ore. D.D., Glasgow. 

Rousseau and Naturalism in Life 
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HrrsoN, M.A. , Leland Stanford 
Junior L'niversity, California. 

Kant and his Philosophical Revolu- 
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Schleiermacher and the Rejuven- 
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Hegel and Hegelianism. By ' Pro- 
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Newman and his Influence. By 
C. Sarolea, Ph.D., Litt. Doc, 
L'niversitv of Edinburgh. 

Published Price, THREE SHILLINGS per Volume. 



?■. 1-' 









^, 3 5002 00075 7497 

Alexander, William Menzies • -"-' i 

Demonic possession m the New Testament 




BS 2545 . D5 A6 1902 

Alexander, William Menzies, 

Demonic possession in the 
New Testament