Jesus performed extraordinary wonders beyond any natural explanation but...
That does not make Him a magician
A guest document
That does not make Him a magician
A guest document
The purpose of this document is to expose the contradictions of the nonsensical theories that portray Jesus as a powerful magician, an initiate in the arts of millenary civilizations, a master of esoteric wisdom instructed by other men.
There have been very creative accounts since ancient times, such as those that affirm that Jesus learned magical arts during his childhood in Egypt (1)(2). Even more, now there are those who go so far as to represent a scenario in which the Resurrection would be nothing more than a supposed ancestral formula secretly preserved by Egyptian wise men and revealed by them to Jesus (3). These attempts to falsify the Faith in such a ridiculous way are not new, and the contradictions they contain are easily demonstrable (4). But unfortunately they have much impact in our time, when more and more people prefer to know the Sacred History through fictional novels about Jesus and through articles by esoteric "scholars" (5), all without even reading the Bible.
The trap is twofold: on the one hand, people who are inclined to believe in the supernatural are prepared for the entrance of the False Christ (6) as a new "teacher of wisdom"; and on the other hand, believers who, to dismantle the fables of "Jesus the magician", hasten to deny that magic exists, are put in a bind because the Bible itself testifies that magic is a reality. In this document we will see how everything has a harmonious explanation within the Faith itself.
The historical impossibility of Jesus' magical instruction in Egypt...
There are other "creative" stories (7) that present Jesus as a "master initiated in magic", but we will focus on one —the fable of the Jesus-magician instructed in Egypt during his childhood— to exemplify how the historical contradictions can be exposed. As for this and other fables, invented and yet to be invented, we will expose below the theological argumentation that invalidates them.
Thanks to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, we know that Herod died in the year 4 BC and, despite the doubts of historians about the exact date of the birth of Jesus, it is a commonly accepted fact that he was born between 7 BC and 4 BC. In short, Herod died when Jesus was just over two years old (8) and we read in the Bible [Matthew 2:19-22] that an angel informed Joseph about this and Joseph immediately returned to Galilee. How could a Jesus-child of about two years old be instructed in Egypt in high ancestral knowledge?
In the most unfavorable case (just in case anyone doubts the aforementioned historical dates), we clearly read in the Gospel of St. Luke that at the age of twelve Jesus was already back in the land of Israel [Luke 2:41-42]. How can the mind of a child under twelve assimilate the mysteries and ancestral wisdom of the Egyptian magicians? At the age when one learns to read and write?
The very creators and disseminators of these fantastic stories claim the complicity of their parents in this learning. Assuming for a moment that they left Jesus in an Egyptian school for Harry Potter-style wizard children (9) where he was taught the special trick of the Resurrection and other incantations, why were they so astonished that their Son was able to hold a conversation with the wise men of the Temple of Jerusalem [Luke 2:46-50]?
... and the Theological impossibility
We must recognize that we find in Jesus the elements of supernaturalness, forces inexplicable by human reason, invocation of certain acts or words, performance of religious rites, interaction with spirits... Everything seems to fit with what we commonly call "magic", so what prevents us from classifying Jesus as a "magician"? The answer is that there is "something" present in Jesus that we will not find in any magician, and that "something", instead of making Him a more powerful magician, makes Him a servant. That "characteristic" will not appear in any definition of "magic" no matter how hard we look for it, that "little detail" forgotten by those who qualify Jesus as a magician is neither more nor less than... God.
Of course, the constant, infallible and visibly manifest invocation and presence of God in all of Jesus' acts changes everything. Jesus never acted on his own without the Father's authority — "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me" [John 6:38]. The New Testament, from the first to the last verse, expresses this. How is it possible to ignore it? For that is precisely what those who call Jesus a magician do: they preach, without expressly saying so, the absence of God.
The reality of magic is not a problem for the Faith
To give a sample, in the New Testament we read that "a certain man, Simon by name, [...] used to practice sorcery in the city and amazed the people of Samaria" [Acts 8:9-11] The reality of magic, divination, etc. is a fact attested by the Bible itself (both in the Old and New Testaments) and its existence is not a problem for the Faith. It is simply that the handling of the supernatural must go hand in hand with God, that is, only guided by Him and with full submission to His Will. To do without Him —to enter into "the Occult" and "the Paranormal"— is to deny His Sovereignty and whoever does so seeks ruin (among other things, instead of Truth, he/she will find a world of appearances —where what appears to be is not— controlled by spirits of lies). To go deeper into the subject we recommend the reading of the related documents of this domain (10)(11)(12).
There is a passage of the Old Testament that synthesizes perfectly the question. We read in Exodus [Ex. 7:8-13] that when Moses and Aaron stood before Pharaoh, "Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent". We know that Aaron and Moses did not act on their own authority, but "did so, as Yahweh had commanded". The Egyptian magicians "did the same thing with their enchantments", but of course the Authority of God prevailed and "Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods". Later, in the New Testament, Jesus affirms "Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill." [Matthew 5:17]. If, as some claim, Jesus was an "initiate" heir to the wisdom of the Egyptian magicians like those magicians at the command of Pharaoh, how is it that He says He is going to continue in —and complete— the same line as Moses and Aaron, who acted "as Yahweh had commanded"? Who does Jesus obey, Yahweh or Pharaoh? To Yahweh, of course. To claim otherwise is to call Him a liar.
Part 1 (this document): The miracles performed by Jesus do not make Him a magician
NOTES AND RELATED DOCUMENTS
(1) For example, in the second century an author named Celsus mocked Jesus in his work "The True Discourse" saying that Jesus would have been the son of a Jewish woman who had an affair with a Roman soldier, and that he would have practiced the magic he learned in Egypt.
(2) As another example of what the human inventiveness can reach, in the "apocryphal gospel of the infancy of pseudo Thomas" —most probably composed in the II century— they tell that the child Jesus, full of anger, killed another child by means of a curse — The reason? because that child had dispersed with a twig the waters that Jesus had gathered.
(3) In his thesis written in the form of a novel, "El secreto egipcio de Napoleón" ["Napoleon's Egyptian Secret"], the author Javier Sierra affirms that "Jesus discovered the secret of the resurrection in Egypt" (Ch. 27) - ISBN 978-84-9793-849-5, DeBolsillo Publishing House, February 2008.
(4) A requisite to perceive the coherence of the Bible is to read it in a balanced and non-fanatical way, that is, without pretending to interpret it absolutely literally and without reducing it absolutely to symbolisms (Part I) (and Part II). All the fantastic stories that go against the Bible are defeated by the principle of coherence.
(5) For example, "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Gospel of Judas" (Part I) (and Part II).
(6) The False Christ, who pretends to impersonate the True Christ by a deceptive staging of His Second Coming. Not to be confused with the Antichrist, who opposes Christ and prepares the coming of the False Christ.
(7) Like the one that affirms that Jesus went to India at the age of twelve or thirteen to learn Hinduism.
(8) It is the margin we are left with when we remember that Herod, "according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men", had the children "from two years old and under" [Matthew 2:16] killed.
(9) In our time, when magic is introduced as an appetizing product for children, the problem is not Harry Potter, the problem is the lack of proper spiritual formation (Part I) (and Part II).
(10) The Spiritual World - How it influences our behavior
(11) Divinations and cures - And what about God?
(12) Miracles, Myth or Reality? - Which is the truth?
En Español: Los milagros de Jesús no lo convierten en un mago
Published in Spanish in 2009
Translated to English on July 22, 2022
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