‘Thy Kingdom Come.’ A theological analysis of the methodology of exorcisms in the Gospel according to Luke

Rac, Edgar (2021) ‘Thy Kingdom Come.’ A theological analysis of the methodology of exorcisms in the Gospel according to Luke. MTh(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Analysing exorcisms and ancient understanding of the demonic and the exorcism phenomena
the methods used by Jesus and his apostles to cast out (ἐκβάλλω) evil spirits inevitably raise questions. Specifically, when looking at various examples of exorcisms performed by Jesus and his disciples, how were the exorcisms connected to the spread of the kingdom of God (Lk. 11:20)? And why was Jesus’ methodology of exorcisms different from other Jewish exorcists and even His own apostles?
Different methodologies of casting evil spirits out have been used for centuries, but the purpose of this study is to concentrate on Jesus’ and his followers’ methodology of exorcism. This project will attempt to answer the question of the significance and purpose of Jesus’ exorcisms in God’s plan to re-establish His reign and kingdom, and what, if any, techniques of casting out demons were used to fulfil the above mission. In addition to the study of Jesus’ techniques, this research will also focus on the techniques of his disciples, who were using the name of Jesus as their main aid in casting out demons. The key objective, however, is to analyse how the issue of how Jesus and his disciples performed exorcisms will lead the study to a more important question – why.
Taking into account the fact that the study of the demonic, the casting out, and the paranormal phenomena in general is an extremely broad and deep subject to deal with, it is necessary at this point to narrow it down and provide the exact direction this research will take in the field of exorcisms.
While attempting to explain and analyse different methodologies of exorcism used in the New Testament and the theology behind invoking the name of Jesus in a performance of an exorcism, this research will not deal with the theories of origins or functions of demons, and will not attempt to analyse what those spirits are. This research will not include psychiatric, historic, or ethnic views on the reasons and symptoms behind demon possession. This study will not battle psychiatric opposition to the spiritual phenomena, and will not involve any scientific explanations behind either the possession or the exorcism. In addition, this research project will not examine the first Christians’ understanding of demon possession, nor will it analyse Paul’s view regarding the subject. Whereas a connection to Acts 2 (the Pentecost) is very probable, the role of the Holy Spirit and the debate about whether casting out demons is a gift of the Spirit or not will also be excluded from this project. In short, this research project will deal mainly with the methodology of casting out of demons found in the Gospel of Luke and some portions of Acts, and what those texts say about the technique and methodology of performing an exorcism in Jesus’ Name. Since both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts are believed to have been written by the same author, we will analyse these writings due to their great contribution to the understanding of exorcisms, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the great emphasis on the coming of the kingdom of God being fulfilled in this practice. This study will examine the theological meaning and significance behind it, which will attempt to result in clear, biblical explanation and definition of an exorcistic technique (or techniques) used by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, and how it was applicable in the Book of Acts.
Although the topic of exorcism and demonic possession has been surrounded by uncertainty and vagueness in terms of how and when can possession occur, and what are the means to ‘cure’ this condition, careful biblical and theological analysis of the issue is nevertheless able to provide clarity and answers regarding the phenomena. Some of the notable scholars and demonologists, whose works will assist the study of this research, include Graham Twelftree, Michael Heiser, Merrill Unger, and Frederick Conybeare among many others. Their (and many other) works will be carefully analysed to see how they address the phenomena of Jesus’ techniques of exorcism, and what conclusions they reach in regard to the differences of exorcistic techniques between Jesus (in the Gospel of Luke) and His disciples (in both Luke and Acts).
This project will begin with establishing a background picture of different exorcist practices found in non-Biblical sources (such as the pseudepigrapha, the Magical Papyri, etc.), and that will involve the study of relevant sections of those materials. The above study will assist in the analysis of the Names of Yahweh and Jesus, which will be one of the key elements in understanding the techniques of exorcism performed by Jesus and his apostles. The research will also analyse key Greek concepts (e.g. ἐκβάλλω, and δύναμις) which will help research the cases of exorcism in the Gospels and what techniques (if any) were used.
The scenes of exorcism found in the Gospel according to Luke will be compared to other Gospels, while the emphasis will still remain on Luke’s perspective on the phenomena. The analysis will include the study of all major exorcism stories (4:33-37; 8:26-39; 9:37-43; 11:14-23) and their parallels in other Gospels. Minor exorcism scenes may also be addressed as part of theological and exegetical analysis.
Thus, in light of both the study of how an ancient Israelite would have perceived the practice of casting out of demons, and the analysis of the theology of the Name (Yahweh and Jesus), we will begin unwrapping the scenes of exorcisms found in the Gospel of Luke. The exorcism scenes, analysed from theological, textual, and exegetical viewpoints, will eventually turn the question of how Jesus and his apostles performed exorcisms into why. The key point in this analysis will take place in Luke 11:20 where we will see the clearest connection between exorcism practices and the coming of the kingdom of God. This project will not be examining the theology of the kingdom of God (e.g. its definition or eschatological aspects). Rather, the entire study of exorcism methodology in the writings of Luke will lead us to understand the inevitable and inseparable connection between the kingdom of Yahweh and the performance of an exorcism.
In addition, as mentioned above, this study will analyse the works of some notable scholars. However, whereas Twelftree, Conybeare and Klutz, among many others, have attempted to analyse the exorcisms of Jesus and his apostles before, this study will provide an in-depth look into how an exorcism was both understood and put into action both by Jesus and his followers. Contribution to the analysis of Jesus’ techniques specifically will be made through examination of how and why exorcisms were performed in Luke’s writing, and how they constituted the presence of God’s kingdom. Concentrating on the methodology of exorcisms in particular, we will be led to the question of how the kingdom of Yahweh was spread during the casting out of the demonic, and how the presence of Yahweh and His kingdom formed the essence of exorcistic practices.

Item Type: Thesis (MTh(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Demon-possession, exorcism, kingdom, casting out, demonic.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Wilson, Dr. Alistair
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Mr Edgar Rac
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-81906
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2021 10:50
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2021 15:03
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81906
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81906

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