This collection of articles by distinguished scholars and experts in their particular fields of research is introduced by a chapter dealing with general matters of the current hermeneutics of magic: what is the nature of magic and what is the understanding of magic in the Western world-view and what - for instance - in the African world? Centered around studies on Jesus and magic the second part contains studies on the use of the term "magic" in the New Testament and especially in Acts. The third section broadens the understanding of magic through selected case studies in different approaches to magic in the environment and background of the New Testament (Old Testament, Qumran, Apuleius, Women as Magicians). Early Christianity subsequent to the New Testament develops its own view of magic, criticizing pagan magic but not being uninfluenced by magic or magic-like practices. This development is part of the fourth and last chapter of the collection along with two different papers on the possible use of Jewish and Christian themes in later magical texts. The collection explores the importance of magic within Early Christianity, an issue shared with its Old Testament and Jewish roots and with its ancient background, implying reluctance and critique. Both magical traits and the critique of non-Christian magic have an impact on later scripture and still exert influence now on modern theoretical discussion and popular ideas.
Dr. Michael Labahn is Wissenschaftlicher Assistant for New Testament at Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.