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Thread: Jesus and the demon possessed child

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    Jesus and the demon possessed child

    One day Jesus was just minding his own business and suddenly a man and a small child appeared and the child immediately threw himself down at Jesus feet and started crying and wailing pitifully.

    Suddenly a large crowd came out of nowhere demanding to know who is abusing the child and declaring that they would kill whoever it was. The man told Jesus just say the word and he will stop. Just say the word and the demon will leave him. Just say the word and he will be healed. Just say the word or else this crowd is going to kill you. So Jesus having no choice said the word. And the child immediately got up and walked off.

    Thousands of years later we look at the story and immediately assume that Jesus must have been a charlatan since obviously there's no such thing as demon possession and obviously just saying a word doesn't cure people of blindness deafness or epilepsy. In reality I don't think Jesus had any choice.
    There is no such thing as moral or immoral behavior. Only civilized and uncivilized behavior. Civilized laws are laws that do not give any one person or any one group of people any special rights above what all others have. The more a society treats everyone as equals the more civilized it is.

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    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no-one-particular View Post
    One day Jesus was just minding his own business and suddenly a man and a small child appeared and the child immediately threw himself down at Jesus feet and started crying and wailing pitifully.

    Suddenly a large crowd came out of nowhere demanding to know who is abusing the child and declaring that they would kill whoever it was. The man told Jesus just say the word and he will stop. Just say the word and the demon will leave him. Just say the word and he will be healed. Just say the word or else this crowd is going to kill you. So Jesus having no choice said the word. And the child immediately got up and walked off.

    Thousands of years later we look at the story and immediately assume that Jesus must have been a charlatan since obviously there's no such thing as demon possession and obviously just saying a word doesn't cure people of blindness deafness or epilepsy. In reality I don't think Jesus had any choice.
    The best explanation is that he had an ability to cure mental illness, and the superstitions of the time explained it as demon possession, or casting out demons.

    In the ancient religious literature there are rituals for casting out demons, but there are no other cases of reported cures, where the victim is described as recovering.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post

    In the ancient religious literature there are rituals for casting out demons, but there are no other cases of reported cures, where the victim is described as recovering.
    You think Jesus was the only miracle-worker of his time?

    His own disciples were said to do the same, to say nothing of initiates into other traditions. The man himself never claimed to be the sole magic worker in all of history.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

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    Veteran Member funinspace's Avatar
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    Clearly, Luke had no choice but to fight against his father, Darth Vader...

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by funinspace View Post
    Clearly, Luke had no choice but to fight against his father, Darth Vader...
    There is always a choice. When Luke set down his sabre and refused to strike the killing blow, it would seem that he was surrendering, and giving up the galaxy along with. Yet, that act of mercy and sacrifice was the breaking point for the tortured soul of his father, who knew that he could not live to see his son die for his sake just as so many others had. In that one act of concession, the whole galaxy was saved from the horrors of the Dark Side.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

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    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    "just the facts, ma'am" -- 1st-century evidence that Jesus cured mental illness

    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    In the ancient religious literature there are rituals for casting out demons, but there are no other cases of reported cures, where the victim is described as recovering.
    You think Jesus was the only miracle-worker of his time?
    There are no other credible examples. No evidence, other written accounts/reports of anyone performing such acts and curing victims.


    His own disciples were said to do the same, . . .
    Only some claims of receiving this power from Jesus. If it's true they did perform such acts, it's only because Jesus gave them this power.

    But the few mentions of such acts by the disciples are not good evidence that they did perform these acts, such as the record of the Jesus healings is good evidence. They are easily explained as a result of wishful thinking by later believers who hoped that the reported miracle power was transmitted to believers and did not end with Jesus.

    Here are the only mentions of such miracles by the disciples:

    Matthew 10:
    1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. . . . saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.
    This reference says only that he commanded them to do it, not that they actually did any such acts. So the author apparently was not sure the disciples really did these things.


    Mark 6
    7 And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. . . . 12 So they went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.
    There's little of anything in this report that's unusual. It's not clear that any lepers or paralytics were instantly cured, e.g.

    Why doesn't it narrate at least one case of the disciples healing someone? like there are more than 30 narrative accounts of Jesus performing these acts and producing unusual cures?


    Luke 9
    1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, . . . 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

    Luke 10
    1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and . . . . 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!"
    These are claims of some healings, "everywhere" -- but if the writers of this really believed it, why didn't they give some narrative accounts of it?

    In any case, it's really only Jesus who is said to have such power, and anything similar the disciples might have done was not their own power but was derived from him.


    In Acts there are some reported miracles, mostly by Peter and Paul, but those are obviously just copycat stories based on the earlier Jesus miracles, and there's only the one source for them. If there's only one source saying it, then it's not credible.


    . . . to say nothing of initiates into other traditions.
    There are no other written accounts saying miracle acts/cures were done, dating from any time near to when they allegedly happened. Of course there were traditions about the ancient healing gods, and worshipers praying to them, priests performing the standard rituals at the temples, etc. Sometimes a victim recovered from an illness, which would have happened anyway, as always in religious practices throughout all cultures.

    In the 1st century the Asclepius cult was dying out, with no reported miracles any longer being inscribed. From 200 BC until the time of our NT writings there were no miracle traditions developing, no reported miracle-workers doing wonders anywhere (except Eunus in Sicily who is said to have blown fire out from his mouth -- that's how low you have to stoop to find anything) -- there were only the ancient legends handed down from centuries earlier.

    But some pagan traditions experienced a revival, after about 100 AD, along with a new explosion of miracle claims.


    The man himself never claimed to be the sole magic worker in all of history.
    If there are other cases, we don't have evidence for them.

    Though there is evidence that Rasputin the "mad monk" was able to cause the Czar's son to recover from his blood disease, while the mainline doctors could do nothing for him. But that's limited to only one victim the "magic worker" was able to help. Probably there have been a few cases of a "magic worker" who had some limited power.

    My point is that the "demon-possession" stories were probably cases of mental illness, which easily explains the depictions of the victim's erratic behavior. And though there's reference in the ancient literature to demons and rituals to cast them out, there are no other reported cases of a victim being cured. So it was not a practice to record fictional accounts of such victims being cured by exorcists. I.e., rituals to cure them were prescribed and published, but not any accounts reporting victims being cured, such as we have written accounts of Jesus doing several cures.

    The "casting out demons" stories make no sense unless something real did happen, corresponding to the descriptions in the accounts, because there is nothing else like this in the ancient literature, and thus nothing from the culture of the time, like reported exorcism cures, which can explain these reported events in terms of the cultural traditions of the time.

    When a "miracle" or religious practice is copied from earlier traditions, or from the culture of the time, then that can explain where the story comes from. But there is nothing in the ancient culture from which these casting-out-demons stories could have been borrowed. Or the other miracle acts of Jesus.

    QUALIFIER: There is one copycat Jesus miracle story, that of multiplying the fish and loaves. This is the only Jesus miracle which could have been copied from something earlier (II Kings 4:42-44). The fact of this one, which appears to be a copycat version of an earlier legend, illustrates how new legends or miracle claims (likely fictional) could be borrowed from earlier legends. It happened a lot. And yet there is no other Jesus miracle story which has such a resemblance to something earlier. Which is strong evidence that these reported miracles are probably based on real events which happened, or real miracle acts he did in the period around 30 AD. After which the written accounts appeared, but before which we have nothing like these miracle claims to serve as an antecedent to the Jesus Resurrection and other miracle acts suddenly appearing and reported in the 1st-century writings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpenproletariat View Post
    ... My point is that the "demon-possession" stories were probably cases of mental illness, which easily explains the depictions of the victim's erratic behavior. And though there's reference in the ancient literature to demons and rituals to cast them out, there are no other reported cases of a victim being cured. So it was not a practice to record fictional accounts of such victims being cured by exorcists. I.e., rituals to cure them were prescribed and published, but not any accounts reporting victims being cured, such as we have written accounts of Jesus doing several cures.

    The "casting out demons" stories make no sense unless something real did happen, corresponding to the descriptions in the accounts, because there is nothing else like this in the ancient literature, and thus nothing from the culture of the time, like reported exorcism cures, which can explain these reported events in terms of the cultural traditions of the time.

    When a "miracle" or religious practice is copied from earlier traditions, or from the culture of the time, then that can explain where the story comes from. But there is nothing in the ancient culture from which these casting-out-demons stories could have been borrowed.
    Julian Jaynes would seem to agree with you. He feels that schizophrenia, or at least the associated auditory hallucinations, were the normal state of bicameral mind. Its ubiquity made it unremarkable until about the Iron Age and the "breakdown of bicameral mind." By the time of Plato, possession (e.g. of the priestesses at the Delphic Oracle) was well known, as shown by those excerpts from Plato:

    Quote Originally Posted by Plato of Athens
    [from Meno]

    Socrates "Then we shall also be right in calling divine those whom we were just now speaking of as diviners and prophets, including the whole tribe of poets. Yes, and statesmen above all may be said to be divine and illumined, being inspired and possessed of God, in which condition they say many grand things, not knowing what they say."

    [from Timaeus]
    For the authors of our being, remembering the command of their father when he bade them create the human race as good as they could, that they might correct our inferior parts and make them to attain a measure of truth, placed in the liver the seat of divination. And herein is a proof that God has given the art of divination not to the wisdom, but to the foolishness of man. No man, when in his wits, attains prophetic truth and inspiration; but when he receives the inspired word, either his intelligence is enthralled in sleep, or he is demented by some distemper or possession. And he who would understand what he remembers to have been said, whether in a dream or when he was awake, by the prophetic and inspired nature, or would determine by reason the meaning of the apparitions which he has seen, and what indications they afford to this man or that, of past, present or future good and evil, must first recover his wits. But, while he continues demented, he cannot judge of the visions which he sees or the words which he utters; the ancient saying is very true, that only a man who has his wits can act or judge about himself and his own affairs. And for this reason it is customary to appoint interpreters to be judges of the true inspiration. Some persons call them prophets; they are quite unaware that they are only the expositors of dark sayings and visions, and are not to be called prophets at all, but only interpreters of prophecy.
    Given the reality of "possessed" prophets, it's easy to imagine people trapped by less benign auditory hallucinations; and easy to imagine that a charismatic healer would have a way to "cast out" the demons inhabiting a man's mind.

    Jaynes' hypothesis might imply that "demonic possession" (auditory hallucinations) was common and well known in that era. Is there evidence for that, outside of Plato's writings and obvious examples like the Delphic oracle?

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    Veteran Member Lumpenproletariat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    Julian Jaynes . . . feels that schizophrenia, or at least the associated auditory hallucinations, were the normal state of bicameral mind. Its ubiquity made it unremarkable until about the Iron Age and the "breakdown of bicameral mind." By the time of Plato, possession (e.g. of the priestesses at the Delphic Oracle) was well known, as shown by those excerpts from Plato:

    Quote Originally Posted by Plato of Athens
    [from Meno]

    Socrates "Then we shall also be right in calling divine those whom we were just now speaking of as diviners and prophets, including the whole tribe of poets. Yes, and statesmen above all may be said to be divine and illumined, being inspired and possessed of God, in which condition they say many grand things, not knowing what they say."

    [from Timaeus]
    For the authors of our being, remembering the command of their father when he bade them create the human race as good as they could, that they might correct our inferior parts and make them to attain a measure of truth, placed in the liver the seat of divination. And herein is a proof that God has given the art of divination not to the wisdom, but to the foolishness of man. No man, when in his wits, attains prophetic truth and inspiration; but when he receives the inspired word, either his intelligence is enthralled in sleep, or he is demented by some distemper or possession. And he who would understand what he remembers to have been said, whether in a dream or when he was awake, by the prophetic and inspired nature, or would determine by reason the meaning of the apparitions which he has seen, and what indications they afford to this man or that, of past, present or future good and evil, must first recover his wits. But, while he continues demented, he cannot judge of the visions which he sees or the words which he utters; the ancient saying is very true, that only a man who has his wits can act or judge about himself and his own affairs. And for this reason it is customary to appoint interpreters to be judges of the true inspiration. Some persons call them prophets; they are quite unaware that they are only the expositors of dark sayings and visions, and are not to be called prophets at all, but only interpreters of prophecy.
    Given the reality of "possessed" prophets, it's easy to imagine people trapped by less benign auditory hallucinations; and easy to imagine that a charismatic healer would have a way to "cast out" the demons inhabiting a man's mind.

    Jaynes' hypothesis might imply that "demonic possession" (auditory hallucinations) was common and well known in that era. Is there evidence for that, outside of Plato's writings and obvious examples like the Delphic oracle?
    Jesus in the 1st century cured some cases of "demon possession" where mentally sick dysfunctional individuals needed treatment, and he restored them to a healthy condition. This probably has little or nothing to do with the priestesses of the Delphic Oracle who were not mentally sick or dysfunctional.

    Those priestesses might have experienced an altered state of some kind, but it looks like they had control over this and could perform a service for those who came for advice, so they were able to function within the society, regardless of their unusual methods.

    There's much evidence of the dysfunctional ones, the mentally deranged, those disconnected from society, and resembling cases we see today, on the streets, and through history. If they don't commit crimes, maybe they can survive somehow, talking to themselves and hallucinating. Maybe some have a built-in safety mechanism to safeguard them against anything dangerous or life-threatening, so they continue on, without help, and manage to do just enough to keep themselves alive. And they're ignored. Or in other cases they're locked up somewhere.

    Many religions and cults had procedures to treat these mentally deranged. But the only recorded cases of any cured of their illness are those of Jesus, described in the Gospel accounts as "casting out" the supposed demons. There are rituals prescribed for doing this, but no other narrative accounts describing any cases of someone being cured.

    Josephus gives a description of an exorcist named Eleazar who supposedly cast out demons. The ritual performed was based on the teachings of Solomon, who supposedly was an inspired prophet of some kind who knew of secret inner power to perform the cures. And yet when Josephus describes the procedure, he never says the demon-possessed victim was cured:

    God also enabled him [Solomon] to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man; and when this was done, the skill and wisdom of Solomon was shown very manifestly: for which reason it is, that all men may know the vastness of Solomon's abilities, and how he was beloved of God, and that the extraordinary virtues of every kind with which this king was endowed may not be unknown to any people under the sun for this reason, I say, it is that we have proceeded to speak so largely of these matters.
    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/...3Asection%3D42
    All Josephus describes is a procedure or ritual performed, and an object being knocked over by a demon said to be exiting the victim's body. But nothing about the victim recovering or being cured of an illness or dysfunction.

    My point is this: We have plenty of evidence of the mental disorders, in the ancient world, many reports showing that the illnesses existed, and we also have the prescribed cures, in many religious and psychic writings. But we have no reported case of anyone actually being cured, other than those in the Gospel accounts describing Jesus as "casting out" demons and the victims recovering and regaining the normal healthy condition to function in society.

    Nothing in Plato or in Solomon or in Hippocrates or any other authority claiming knowledge of disorders of the mind or body gives any actual account of "demon possession" healings taking place as a result of the procedures performed. And so the accounts of Jesus performing such cures could not have been borrowed from earlier reports or legends or traditions or claims about such cures (even though some elements of early Christian belief were likely borrowed from earlier traditions).

    So it's a reasonable conclusion that Jesus actually did perform such acts of power as this -- a starting point -- which in turn led to his being made an object of worship and the center of a new religion which took shape partly by borrowing other elements from the existing Jewish and pagan culture.

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    "Demonic possession" is relatively rare in modern times, I think. (How common is Tourette syndrome, although that's probably not the same thing?)

    Yer such "possession" might have been more common in Jesus' time, given his fame curing several(?) cases. THAT is the particular point I was trying to address: Is there evidence that such (auditory hallucinations? schizophrenia?) was more common in Jesus' time?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    "Demonic possession" is relatively rare in modern times, I think. (How common is Tourette syndrome, although that's probably not the same thing?)

    Yer such "possession" might have been more common in Jesus' time, given his fame curing several(?) cases. THAT is the particular point I was trying to address: Is there evidence that such (auditory hallucinations? schizophrenia?) was more common in Jesus' time?
    Maybe not in Portland.

    https://apnews.com/article/portland-...ea3e9a8fc21384

    Exorcism: Increasingly frequent, including after US protests

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