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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Good News! » » Simon the magician (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

THOR
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My pastor told me today that he is speaking on Simon the Magician from the book of Acts in the Bible. He also said that he didn't think simon was just a magician performing illusions but someone doing scorcery/supernatural/demonic/spiritual stuff.

I think Simon was just an illusionist.

Where can I go for information/commentary on this?
and I need information quickly---his sermon is this Sunday!
thanks,
thor
rossmacrae
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Well... you could start with ... uh ... maybe ... the Bible?

Acts 8:9-24

9] But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
[10] To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
[11] And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
[12] But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
[13] Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
[14] Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
[15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
[16] (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
[17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
[18] And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
[19] Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
[20] But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
[21] Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
[22] Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
[23] For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
[24] Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

It doesn't matter whether Simon was using "sorcery/supernatural/demonic/spiritual stuff" or not, he was content to have people BELIEVE that he was - and he was using his "powers" (real or pretend) to make a living from the gullible (and as you know it's so very easy for the very cheesiest of illusionists to just fake it and get themselves a crowd of believers anyway). The text doesn't support one view or the other, but (and here's the core of the argument) YOU KNOW THE TYPE WHEN YOU SEE THEM (it's depressingly familiar). And here comes the REAL power (in the person of the disciples) and Simon looks, at first, like a convert ... but very quickly spills his real intention: learning some new tricks to refresh his act.
Terry Holley
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OK!. Hang in there and I'll share my position on all this.

The following is copyright 2005, Terry Holley:

Simon is said to have "practiced sorcery and amazed all the people (NIV)." A better translation would be that Simon "used magic and amazed all the people." This is exactly what professional magicians and illusionists do today in their shows. This may be accomplished by an effect as small as making a silk appear (an effect performed at one time or another by almost every magician) or as large an effect as making the Statue of Liberty disappear (as performed by illusionist David Copperfield in front of a live audience and on national television).

The King James Version translators made a poor choice when they decided to translate the Greek word "existimi" as "bewitched." To most people the word implies a negative or demonic supernatural motif, therefore conveying the idea that Simon truly had a Satanic supernatural power. A more correct translation would have been to use the words "amaze", "astonish", or "wonder." This is easily understood when one realizes that a form of the same Greek word is used in Acts 8:13 where Simon is said to have "wondered" when he saw the miracles and signs which were done by God through Philip. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words shows agreement with this view as it states, "it does not mean to bewitch, as in the case of the preceding verb ("baskaino"), but to confuse, amaze...." It would appear that "bewitch" was used in the KJV passage because of the beliefs of the translators at that period of time!

More light is shed on the reason for this particular inaccurate translation when one understands the background of the KJV translators as well as the beliefs of King James himself. In 1584, Reginald Scot penned "The Discoverie of Witchcraft", a treatise responding to his own question whether or not witches can do such miraculous works as are imputed to them. Although Scot was not able to divest himself of all the superstitious beliefs of his age, his book is a marvelous protest of those writings of his day (and of ours) which encouraged a belief in the supernatural power of witches.

The translators of the KJV were guilty of letting their theological system interpret the biblical data rather than letting the biblical data interpret their system! Interesting information is given regarding the bias that King James brought to the Bible translation bearing his name in Hugh Ross Williamson’s introduction to Reginald Scot’s, "The Discoverie of Witchcraft" (Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964), p. 23. Scot’s writing was an attempt to show that witches did not have the powers that were imputed to them. Williamson writes:

Unfortunately, not everyone has expressed favor toward this work:
The most famous attack on Scot was the Demonologie of
King James VI of Scotland, published in 1598, the year before
Scot's death. Ever since the matron-like witch, Agnes
Sampson, had insisted on demonstrating the reality of her
powers by telling the King 'the very words which passed
between the King's Majesty and His Queen at Oslo in Norway,
the first night of their marriage', James, who 'swore by the
Living God that he believed that all the Devils in Hell could
not have discovered the same', had taken witchcraft with
considerable seriousness. Among his first acts on becoming
King James I of England in 1603 was the enactment of more
stringent laws against witchcraft and the order that all
copies of the Discoverie were to be burnt.

Because of his bent as well as that of the translators toward the belief in the supernatural power of witches and magicians, it is no wonder that the KJV supports that position through its use of words. The terms "sorcery" and "bewitch" are loaded with negative supernatural ideas. If the translators of the KJV had simply written "magic" and "amaze", they would have conveyed the true meaning of the words. The translators were guilty of letting their theological system interpret the biblical data rather than letting the biblical data interpret their system!

That Simon should only be considered as a fraudulent miracle worker and not as an individual possessing supernatural power is reinforced by others who have researched the issue. Merrill C. Tenney writes the following in his book New Testament Times:

Opposition to the message arose from one Simon, a self-styled
"great man," who professed to possess supernatural powers
(Acts 8:9, 10). The class to which he belonged was quite
widespread and influential in the first century. Astrology,
necromancy, soothsaying, and fortunetelling flourished where
religion offered no sure guidance for personal life. Simon knew
the art of preying upon the fears and hopes of superstitious
people, and he succeeded in making a good profit from his
fraudulent practices....Whether Simon's influence were really
as great as the (Church) Fathers say is difficult to decide. His
claims seem to utterly fantastic to be believable; yet in that
day they were undoubtedly credited by many. He was a
good example of a wandering magician who made his living
by preying on the fears of the ignorant populace. (pp. 191-193).

The reason that Simon received condemnation was because of what he was doing and claiming. There is no indication here in the passages that Simon could truly perform the supernatural. Simon's sin was selfish ambition. He obviously enjoyed being considered as "a great one". When he saw a power (supernatural) that was greater than his (natural), he wanted to purchase it.

Bar-Jesus (Elymas) (Acts 13:6-12) was a magician and false prophet to be sure, but Scripture does not give him credit for any supernatural powers. Once again Tenney throws significant light on the subject of what kind of powers were possessed by the magicians of Scripture:

Bar-Jesus belonged to a small but insignificant class of charlatans
who used their knowledge of Scripture to create new charms and
rites. He represented the type of antagonism which confronted
Christianity in its spread across the world at that time. A little
psychological trickery and scientific knowledge enabled him to pose
as supernatural. (225, 226).

Elymas was guilty of opposing Barnabas and Saul in their attempt to preach the word of the Lord and of perverting the ways of the Lord. Neither the greek word "anthistato" translated "withstood" or "opposed," nor the word "diastrephon" translated "perverting" carry with them any idea of supernatural power. Paul's reponse to this oppositon and perversion was to call Elymas "a child of the devil, enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit ("dolou") and fraud ("rhadiourgias")."

The word translated "deceit" ("dolou") is also translated "subtilety" in the KJV. The word is used negatively ("not in guile)") to describe the the teachings of Paul, and the antonym "adolos" is used to describe Nathanael in John 1:47 ("no guile").

The Greek word "rhadiourgias", translated "fraud," comes from two words which mean "easy working." This is the only use of the word in the New Testament, although a related word occurs in Acts 18:14 where it is translated "crimes." It may mean "villany," "mischief," or "wrecklessness," or it may actually mean "one who does a thing adroitly and with ease." (Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. III, p. 182).

From studying the words used to describe Simon and Elymas, it is clear that these two men were simply using their natural abilities disguised as supernatural to mislead people and keep them from the true faith. No where in the account does it say that they had supernatural or occult power. Further, no where does it imply that they were stage magicians as we know of today using their natural ability to fool people strictly for entertainment purposes. The denunciation leveled at these two charlatans was because they were claiming to possess real power, therefore deceiving the populace, promoting selfish ambition, and perverting the ways of the Lord. To read any more into the account than this is to be guilty of making the Scripture say more than it does.

I hope this will be helpful!

Terry
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
THOR
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Thank you both very much for the prompt replies. I forgot that I own the book, Astrology and Psychic Phenomena --- it's great!
Terry Holley
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Hi THOR:

Thanks for the good word about the book!

Have you had any response from your Pastor yet about Simon just being a magician?

Terry
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
THOR
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Hey terry,
last sunday's sermon was great. pastor was influenced by your post and was very careful about what he said concerning Simon and his sorcery vs. illusions.
thanks for your help.

thor
Missing_Link
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THOR - don't you have a problem using the same name as a pagan God?
THOR
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No.
but it is funny that my total-Christian parents gave me this name.
Rickfcm
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One small word of advice. If you have a difference of opinion with the pastor you are under, do not speak against him. Take you disagreement directly to him because you are under their authority. Over the years I have seen people take the disagreement to others and not the pastor and it has caused many problems in the body. I work at different denominations and teach others in other denominations, and I always try never to step on their toes.

Rick
drkptrs1975
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It was definitely Sorcery. It was witchcraft. When the Bible talks of magic, it is dealing with sorcery, witchcraft. But nothing agianst Illusions.
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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But were Bible writers particularly aware of the art of illusion especially sold as 'supernatural' power; a common practice? The Church condemned illusion as sorcery for centuries...mistakenly.

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
Terry Holley
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Quote:
On 2005-05-07 13:17, drkptrs1975 wrote:
It was definitely Sorcery. It was witchcraft. When the Bible talks of magic, it is dealing with sorcery, witchcraft. But nothing agianst Illusions.


After my fairly lengthy response above dealing with Greek words and their definitions in these New Testament passages about sorcerors and magic, I am interested in your statements.

If I may ask, how do you define "sorcery" and "witchcraft," what is the result of using the two, and how does one gain the ability to use them?

Terry
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
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