Exorcisms in the New Testament

Exorcisms by Jesus
  • The Demoniac in the Synagogue (Mark 1.21-8)
  • The Gaderen Demoniac (Mark 5.1-20)
  • The Syrophoenician Woman’s Daughter (Mark 7.24-30)
  • The Epileptic Boy (Mark 9.14-29)
  • The Beelzebul Controversy (Mark 3.22-7 and Matthew 12.22-30/Luke 11.14-23)
  • Why none in John?*
Other mentions
  • Jesus’ answer to John the Baptist (Matthew 11.2-6/Luke 7.18-23)
  • The Disciples’ Mission(s) (Mark 6.7-12,30/Matthew 10.1-15/Luke 9.1-6; 10.1-11,17-20)
  • Paul cures the slave woman with divination (Acts 16.16-21)

*Why none in John?

Notes from TwelftreeJesus the Miracles Worker p. 222-223; Meier, A Marginal Jew v.II, 637 N.18
1. John chose miracles that were thought to be the work of God. To associate Jesus with the relatively common healing of the demonized performed by many other healers of the time would have appeared banal and unconvincing. Meier: ‘John’s high christology of the eternal Word made flesh would sit uneasily with Jesus engaging in sometimes lengthy battles and negotiations with demons (who, after all, are only minions of Satan, Jesus’ true adversary).’ John likely knew of the exorcist traditions. He probably did not find them embarrassing (he includes the spittle miracle).
2. To play down the theme of the kingdom of God since they are so closely associated in the synoptics (Mt 12.28/Lk 11.20). Jesus performing exorcisms would have diminished the notion of Jesus’ kingship that John wanted to highlight.
3. In John the battle with and the defeat of Satan – the grand cosmic exorcism as Meier calls it – is linked almost exclusively to the cross, thus the need to remove other exorcisms. “Now shall the ruler of this world be cast out (John 12:21).
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