Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Simon Magus meets Philip

The meeting presents a contrast between the message of Philip and the claim of Simon Magus to be "someone great." Conzelman says Simon Magus claims to be the "most high God himself or the revelation of God, and thus the son." In the second half of the story, Simon seeks the power for himself and is said to be in "the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness."

The "gall of bitterness is an allusion to Deut. 29:16-18 and specifically to the expression "lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit" that is considered to be a warning against practicing idolatry. The second part, "the chains of wickedness" is more interesting because it is a reversal of Isa. 56:6 which is a call for the loosening of the chains. The ministry of Jesus releases the chains while Simon is being condemned to "the chains of wickedness." The contrast is striking.

According to Susan Garrett, The Demise of the Devil, Luke views false prophecy and magic as satanic, an interpretation she considers to be distinctive and I assume unique in this time period. My read is that Luke is alluding to Isaiah and using the anti-idol polemic as a continuation of the Isaianic tradition to place the followers of Jesus within the mainstream of Judaism.

Copyrighted 2006


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