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Smith's Bible Dictionary

one who pretends to expel evil spirits by conjuration, prayers and ceremonies. Exorcism was frequently practiced among the Jews. (Matthew 12:27; Acts 19:13) David, by playing skillfully on a harp, procured the temporary departure of the evil spirit which troubled Saul. (1 Samuel 16:23) The power of casting out devils was bestowed by Christ while on earth upon the apostles, (Matthew 10:8) and the seventy disciples (Luke 10:17-19) and was, according to his promise, (Mark 16:17) exercised by believers after his ascension. (Acts 16:18)

Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Acts 19:13). "In that sceptical and therefore superstitious age professional exorcist abounded. Many of these professional exorcists were disreputable Jews, like Simon in Samaria and Elymas in Cyprus (8:9; 13:6)." Other references to exorcism as practised by the Jews are found in Matthew 12:27; Mark 9:38; Luke 9:49, 50. It would seem that it was an opinion among the Jews that miracles might be wrought by invoking the divine name. Thus also these "vagabond Jews" pretended that they could expel daemons.

The power of casting out devils was conferred by Christ on his apostles (Matthew 10:8), and on the seventy (Luke 10:17-19), and was exercised by believers after his ascension (Mark 16:17; Acts 16:18); but this power was never spoken of as exorcism.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) One who expels evil spirits by conjuration or exorcism.

2. (n.) A conjurer who can raise spirits.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

ek'-sor-siz'-m, ek'-sor-sist (Exorkistes, from exorkizo, "to adjure" (Matthew 26:63)):

1. Definition:

One who expels demons by the use of magical formulas. In the strict etymological sense there is no exorcism in the Bible. The term "exorcists" is used once (Acts 19:13) in a way to discredit the professional exorcists familiarly known both among Jews and Gentiles.

2. Method of Expelling Demons in the New Testament:

The method of Jesus in dealing with demoniacs was not that of the exorcists. While it is said (Matthew 8:16) that He "cast out the spirits with a word," it is abundantly clear that the word in question was not ritualistic but authoritative. In Luke 4:35 we have a typical sentence uttered by our Lord in the performance of His cures: "Hold thy peace, and come out of him." In Mark 9:29 we have Christ's own emphasis upon the ethical element in dealing with these mysterious maladies: "This kind can come out by nothing, save by prayer." In Matthew 12:28 Jesus gives His own explanation of the method and power used in His cures: "But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you."

In Luke 9:1 the terms "authority" and "power" are used in such a way as to show the belief of the evangelists that to cure demon-possession an actual power from God, together with the right to use it, was necessary. This group of passages gives the New Testament philosophy of this dread mystery and its cure. The demons are personal evil powers afflicting human life in their opposition to God. It is beyond man unaided to obtain deliverance from them. It is the function of Christ as the redeemer of mankind to deliver men from this as well as other ills due to sin. Miraculous cures of the same kind as those performed by Christ Himself were accomplished by His disciples in His name (Mark 16:17). The power attributed to "His name" supplies us with the opportunity for a most enlightening comparison and contrast.

3. Exorcism in Ethnic and Jewish Writings:

Exorcism among ancient and primitive peoples rests largely upon faith in the power of magical formulas, ordinarily compounded of the names of deities and pronounced in connection with exorcistic rites, upon the bodies of the afflicted. The words themselves are supposed to have power over the demons, and the mere recital of the correct list of names is supposed to be efficacious.

Attention should be called again to the incantation texts of the Babylonians and Assyrians (see, for translations and full exposition of texts, Rogers, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, 146). In this direction the absurdities and cruelties of superstition have carried men to extreme lengths. In the case of Josephus we are amazed to see how even in the case of an educated man the most abject superstition controls his views of such subjects. In Ant, VIII, v, in speaking of the wisdom of Solomon, he says that "God enabled him to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanitative to him." He also describes, in the same connection, a cure which he alleges to have seen, "in the presence of Vespasian and his sons," performed in accordance with methods of incantation ascribed to Solomon. A ring to which was attached a kind of root mentioned by Solomon was placed at the nostrils of the demoniac and the demon was drawn out through the nostrils. The proof that exorcism had actually taken place was given in the overturning of a basin placed nearby.

The absurdities of this narrative are more than equaled by the story of exorcism told in the Book of Tobit (see Lunge, Apocrypha, 151-53) where the liver and heart of a fish, miraculously caught, are burned upon the ashes of incense, and the resulting smoke drives away a demon. This whole story is well worthy of careful reading for the light it throws upon the unrestrained working of the imagination upon such matters.

In the rabbinical writers the very limit of diseased morbidness is reached in the long and repulsive details, which they give of methods used in exorcism (see Whitehouse, HDB, article "Demon," I, 592b; compare 593b; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, 775-76).

4. Contrasts of New Testament and Popular Methods with Demons:

In most striking contrast with this stand the Biblical narratives. The very point of connection which we have noted is also the point of contrast. The mighty and efficacious word with which Jesus rebuked and controlled demons was no exorcistic formula spoken by rote, but His own living word of holy power. "In the name of Jesus" did not mean that the sacred name formally uttered possessed magical power to effectuate a cure. The ancient Semitic formula, "in the name of," given a deep ethical meaning in the Old Testament, had a still deeper meaning in the New Testament. The proper and helpful use of it meant a reliance upon the presence and living power of Christ from whom alone power to do any mighty work comes (John 15:5).

This fundamental difference between the ideas and methods of Jesus and His disciples and current conceptions and usages becomes the more striking when we remember that the lower range of ideas and practices actually prevailed among the people with whom the Lord and His followers were associated. The famous passage (Matthew 12:24 and parallel) in which the Pharisees attribute to demoniacal influence the cures wrought by Jesus upon the demonized, usually studied with reference to our Lord's word about the unforgivable sin, is also remarkable for the idea concerning demons which it expresses. The idea which evidently underlies the accusation against Jesus was that the natural way to obtain control over demons is by obtaining, through magic, power over the ruler of demons. In reply to this Jesus maintains that since the demons are evil they can be controlled only by opposition to them in the power of God.

It is most suggestive that we have in Acts 19:13 a clear exposition, in connection with exorcism, of just the point here insisted upon. According to this narrative a group of wandering professional Jewish exorcists, witnessing the cures accomplished by Paul, attempted to do the same by the ritualistic use of the name of Jesus. They failed ignominiously because, according to the narrative, they lacked faith in the living Christ by whose power such miracles of healing were wrought, although they were letter-perfect in the use of the formula. This narrative shows clearly what the New Testament understanding of the expression "in my name" implied in the way of faith and obedience.

Here as elsewhere, the chastened mental restraint under which the New Testament was composed, the high spiritual and ethical results of the intimacy of the disciples with Jesus, are clearly manifest.

Our Lord and His disciples dealt with the demoniacs as they dealt with all other sufferers from the malign, enslaving and wasting power of sin, with the tenderness of an illimitable sympathy, and the firmness and effectiveness of those to whom were granted in abundant measure the presence and power of God.

Louis Matthews Sweet

1845. exorkistes -- an exorcist
... an exorcist. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: exorkistes Phonetic
Spelling: (ex-or-kis-tace') Short Definition: an exorcist Definition: an ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/1845.htm - 6k

Whether the Acts of the Orders are Rightly Assigned in the Text?
... But the acolyte's act is merely corporeal. Therefore the exorcist has not the spiritual
act of casting out devils, since he is of inferior rank. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/aquinas/summa theologica/whether the acts of the 2.htm

Special Preparation for Baptism.
... Accordingly "an Exorcist is not ordained, for it is a gift of the spontaneous
benevolence and grace of God through Christ by visitation of the Holy Ghost. ...
/.../chapter iii special preparation for baptism.htm

Ordination and Duties of the Clergy.
... The Same Apostle Concerning the Exorcist. XXVI. I the same make a constitution
in regard to an exorcist. An exorcist is not ordained. ...
/.../various/constitutions of the holy apostles/sec iii ordination and duties of.htm

They who have not Been Promoted to that Office. ...
... But the "Exorcist" must be excepted who has been promoted by a Chorepiscopus, for
he can indeed properly catechize although not promoted by a bishop; for from ...
/.../schaff/the seven ecumenical councils/canon xxvi they who have.htm

Whether There are Seven Orders?
... interpretation of speeches" to the acolyte, this being signified by the light which
he bears; the "grace of healing" to the exorcist; "diverse kinds of tongues ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether there are seven orders.htm

... It was supposed that there were processes more or less efficacious for driving away
the demons; and the occupation of exorcist was a regular profession like ...
//christianbookshelf.org/renan/the life of jesus/chapter xvi miracles.htm

The First of the Martyrs of Palestine was Procopius...
... We learn from the longer account that he was a lector, interpreter, and exorcist
in the church, and that he was exceedingly ascetic in his manner of life. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/pamphilius/church history/chapter i the first of.htm

Receiving and Forbidding
... consciousness that gagging men was not precisely 'receiving' them, and that if
'in Thy name' so sanctified deeds, perhaps the unattached exorcist, who could ...
/.../maclaren/expositions of holy scripture d/receiving and forbidding.htm

Epistle xvi. The Confessors to Cyprian.
... We bid you to have peace with the holy martyrs. Lucianus wrote this, there being
present of the clergy, both an exorcist and a reader. Footnotes: ...
/.../cyprian/the epistles of cyprian/epistle xvi the confessors to.htm

Martin Converts a Robber to the Faith.
... to be a kind of injury done him. He therefore appointed him to be an exorcist.
Martin did not refuse this appointment, from the ...
/.../severus/life and writings of sulpitius severus /chapter v martin converts a.htm

Exorcist (1 Occurrence)
... (Acts 19:13). "In that sceptical and therefore superstitious age professional exorcist
abounded. ... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. EXORCISM; EXORCIST. ...
/e/exorcist.htm - 15k

... of conjuration used. 2. (n.) Conjuration for raising spirits. Int. Standard
Bible Encyclopedia. EXORCISM; EXORCIST. ek'-sor-siz'-m ...
/e/exorcism.htm - 14k

Exorcists (1 Occurrence)

/e/exorcists.htm - 6k

Divination (25 Occurrences)
... book. The term is probably taken from the Babylonian and denotes a magician
and especially an exorcist rather than a diviner. (6 ...
/d/divination.htm - 45k

Exorcist (1 Occurrence)

Acts 19:13
But some of the itinerant Jews, exorcists, took on themselves to invoke over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches."



Related Terms


Exorcists (1 Occurrence)

Divination (25 Occurrences)

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