Doer of Extraordinary Deeds

Where do the traditions regarding Jesus' miracles into all this? They form a major part of the Jesus tradition, and prior to the Enlightenment's problematizing the very category of 'miracle' they constituted weighty proof that Jesus was from (or of) God (§4.2). Since then the probative value (and therefore the market value) of these traditions has fallen through the floor, and it has not recovered much in recent years. But the records of Jesus 'mighty works' are too important a feature of the Jesus tradition for us to ignore. In proceeding, however, it may be better to avoid the still problematic category 'miracle', still usually understood in terms of divine intervention in the normal workings of nature. For the time being it will be preferable to use the less loaded definition 'remarkable occurrences' (COD), the common NT term 'deeds of power' (dynameis), or Josephus's description of Jesus as 'a doer of extraordinary deeds (paradoxon ergon poietes)' (Ant. 18.63).245 It will not be possible, however, to avoid some discussion of the equally problematic term 'magic'. I will follow the same procedure as in the other sections of these two chapters.

a. Jewish Expectation

There is surprisingly little indication that either the royal or the priestly Messiah was expected to work deeds of power.246 It should be noted, however, that both David and Solomon had reputations as exorcists. David is described in early Israelite history as one who was able by his music to make Saul well when the latter was tormented by an 'evil spirit from God' and to cause the evil spirit to depart (1 Sam. 16.14-16, 23). Not surprisingly Josephus explains the effect of David's harp-playing in terms of 'charming away, singing away by means of a spell' (exado, Ant. 6.166-8),247 and Pseudo-Philo 60 actually records the song that Da

245. Paradoxos has the basic sense of 'contrary to expectation, incredible' (LSJ), 'contrary to opinion or exceeding expectation' (BDAG). See also Meier's discussion 'What Is a Miracle?' (Marginal Jew 2.512-15 and 524-25 n. 5), with good bibliography (522-24 n. 4). Crossan defines a miracle as 'a marvel [that is, 'not a trick or a deceit but a marvel or a wonder — something that staggers current explanation'] that someone interprets as a transcendental action or manifestation'; 'to claim a miracle is to make an interpretation of faith, not just a statement of fact' (Birth 303-304); but why did he insert 'just' in the second quotation?

246. This was taken to warrant the blanket assertion 'that miraculous healing was not associated in Judaism with the Davidic Messiah' (Fuller, Foundations 111); similarly Hahn: 'working miracles and proclaiming glad tidings is not the task of the royal Messiah' (Hahn, Hoheitstitel393 [Titles380]).

247. LSJ, exado, cites Lucian, Philops. 16; Trag. 173.

vid played 'in order that the evil spirit might depart from him'. 11Q5 (llQPsa) 27 describes the various psalms which David composed, including 'songs to be sung over the afflicted (hpgo'im)' (27.9-10).248

Solomon too had a reputation as a maker of spells, deduced, presumably, from his knowledge of plants described in 1 Kgs. 4.33. The Wisdom of Solomon develops the thought: Solomon knew 'the powers of spirits (pneumatön bias)' and 'the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots' (Wis. 7.20). And Josephus takes up the same tradition: 'God granted him knowledge of the art used against demons for the benefit and healing of men. He also composed incantations (epödas) by which illnesses are relieved, and left behind forms of exorcisms (tropous exorköseön) with which those possessed by demons drive them out, never to return' (Ant. 8.45). Dennis Duling notes a recension of Psalm 91 (llQPsa) which contains Solomon's name just before the term 'demons' in column l.249 Such legends are greatly elaborated in the later Testament of Solomon, but the evidence that Solomon's reputation had already grown in this direction at the time of Jesus is clear enough.

The point of course is that such a development may have influenced the expectation regarding the royal Messiah. That the eschatological 'son of David' might have power over evil spirits, like the first son of David, would probably not cause too much surprise for many of Jesus' contemporaries.

During the second half of the twentieth century scholars placed more emphasis on the miracle-working power of the expected prophet. The history of Is

248. Pgo'im is better translated 'afflicted or stricken' (i.e., by evil spirits) than by 'possessed' (Garcia Martinez). My colleague Loren Stuckenbruck notes that several of the instances of 'possession' in Second Temple literature are more accurately defined as 'affliction' (referring to Jub. 10.7-14;ps.-Philo 60.1; lQapGen 20.16-17; cf. 1 En. 15.12).

250. See further D. C. Duling, 'Solomon, Exorcism, and the Son of David', HTR 68 (1975) 235-52; also his Introduction to 'Testament of Solomon', OTP 1.944-51; also 'The Eleazar Miracle and Solomon's Magical Wisdom in Flavius Josephus's Antiquitates Judaicae 8.42-49', HTR 78 (1985) 1-25. The Testament claims to be written by Solomon 'to the sons of Israel . . . that they might know the powers of the demons and their forms, as well as the name of the angels by which they are thwarted' (15.14). The Testament is not usually dated before the third century, but probably contains earlier material (Duling, ABD 6.118).

251. See also K. Berger, 'Die königlichen Messiastraditionen des Neuen Testaments', NTS 20 (1973-74) 1-44 (here 3-9). Meier, Marginal Jew 2.737 n. 46, justly criticizes C. Burger, Jesus als Davidssohn (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1970) for failing to take up the question of Solomon and Jewish traditions about him as an exorcist and healer in his examination of the Jewish background of the 'son of David' title.

252. There is a debate as to whether Solomon was known at the time of Jesus as 'son of David' (as in Prov. 1.1; Eccl. 1.1; T. Sol. title; 1.7; 5.10; 20.1). This may be relevant, since nowhere in the Jesus tradition is the name 'son of David' associated with an exorcism (contrast Mark 10.47-48/Matt. 20.31-32; Matt. 9.27; 12.23; 15.22).

rael celebrated two principal periods of wondrous happenings: the period of wilderness and conquest and the period of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17-19; 2 Kings 4-8). So any hope for a prophet like Moses or for Elijah's return might well have included expectation of great natural wonders or amazing healings. The former is certainly borne out by Josephus's account of the various 'sign prophets', where two of the cases cited evidently expected a repeat of the miraculous crossing of the Jordan and of the amazing collapse of Jericho's walls (§15.6b).

In all this we should particularly note again 4Q521 with its expectation of an 'anointed one' who would give sight to the blind, straighten the bent, heal the wounded, and revive the dead (2.1, 8, 12). But we should also recall (§12.2c[3]) that the expectation of a supernatural new age characterized by healing and defeat of evil could also be expressed without reference to any messianic figure.

It should not be forgotten that healings were often attributed to gods in the ancient world (particularly Asclepius) and that belief in the powerful effect of amulets and spells was widespread. Within Judaism we may think especially of exorcisms, of which the best known are the expulsion of a demon from Tobias's bride (Tobit 6-8), Abraham's exorcism of Pharaoh (lQapGen 20.16-29), and Josephus's report of the exorcism of a demon by one Eleazar in the presence of Vespasian (Ant. 8.46-48).254 We can probably assume that many of the spells and incantations collected later go back to the first century, not least because the key formula, 'I adjure you by .. ,'256 is quite well attested for the period. Within the NT itself we may note references to the activity of a number of exorcists.

In such a context it would hardly be surprising if exorcisms and other mighty works were included in the 'checklist' by which many people in Galilee and Judea attempted to assess Jesus' mission.

253. See, e.g., H. C. Kee, Miracle in the Early Christian World (New Haven: Yale University, 1983) ch. 3; W. Cotter, Miracles in Greco-Roman Antiquity (London: Routledge, 1999) 11-34; H.-J. Klauck, The Religious Context of Early Christianity (Edinburgh: Clark, 2000) 154-68.

254. Texts for these and other miracle stories from Jewish sources are provided by C. A. Evans, 'Jesus and Jewish Miracle Stories', Jesus and His Contemporaries 213-43 (here 22743). The Qumran community knew the Tobit story well (4Q196-200).

255. H. D. Betz, The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation (Chicago: University of Chicago, 21992).

257. Including the fragmentary text in 4Q560 2.5-6 ('I, O spirit, adjure ... I enchant you, O spirit ...'); Acts 19.13; Josephus, Ant. 8.47; PGM 3.36-37; 4.289, 3019-20, 3046; 7.242; and note T. Sol. 5.9; 6.8; 11.6(14.8); 15.7; 18.20, 31, 33; 25.8 (BDAG horkizö;G. H. Twelftree, Jesus the Exorcist [WUNT 2.54; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1993] 82-83). Note also the data in 15.6a.

258. Matt. 12.27/Luke 11.19; Mark 9.38-39; Acts 19.13 19.

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