Wizard Battles And Demon Traps Revealed In Ancient Christian Texts
A “wizard battle” and over 300 other bizarre stories including “trapped demons” have been published by Biblical scholars translating apocryphal ancient Christian texts into English for the first time. The facts about Jesus’s life are shadowy to say the least, but by the end of the fourth century the church had selected and canonized the biblical texts for inclusion in the Bible. However, newly translated apocryphal texts, meaning ancient Christian texts that never made the final edit for inclusion in the Bible, have been found to include supernatural stories of a wizard battle and trapping demons.
Tony Burke is a professor of early Christianity at York University in Toronto, Canada, and his new book New Testament Apocrypha More Noncanonical Scriptures (Volume 2), he explains why two copies of this apocryphal text are held in the Vatican Apostolic Library and in the Leipzig University Library. He also believes that these stories were important to Christians long after the Bible appeared. In one of these untranslated Coptic texts, a battle is described as having been fought by “diabolical wizards” attempting to destroy an ancient church of the Virgin Mary in Greece. According to Tony Burke, more than 300 Christian apocryphal texts are known to exist.
Angels and demons, from the facade of Saint Peter church, Spoleto, Italy, both featured in stories found in recently translated ancient Christian texts, apocryphal texts. (Silvio / Adobe Stock)
According to Live Science, Tony Burke stated that much of the Egyptian population around the Mediterranean had converted to Christianity but that many still followed “polytheistic faiths.” In the same article, he goes on to state that there was a tendency to identify the remnants of polytheism “with 'magoi' or 'wizards' who posed dangers to the Christian community.”
The Wizard Battle And How The Virgin Mary Helped
The wizard battle story is recounted in two texts that were written around 1,500 years ago. Both were recovered from the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Egypt, which at one time kept the head of Saint Mark in its precinct. Both texts were translated by Paul Dilley, a professor of religious studies at the University of Iowa. The curious tale of the wizard battle is highly revealing.
According to the translation, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bishop Basil (329-379 AD) in a dream telling him to look for an image of her (Mary) that was “not made by human hands” that he would find hidden on top of two columns in the temple of her church outside of Philippi. The two columns were described as having been “set up since the time of the giants” and that they would be covered in demonic images. In the story, Virgin Mary also says that it would not be possible for anyone to take them down except through “the order of my beloved son.”
Could these be the two magical columns in the Philippi story about the wizard battle? They are just one example of many such columns found in this ancient city. (MrPanyGoff / CC BY-SA 3.0)
The story continues with Basil and a group of holy men going to the temple, where they are confronted by a group of wizards versed in the arts of “diabolical magic.” And when wizards learn the holy men’s intentions to interfere with the two columns they created “diabolic illusions.” When Basil touched the two columns with a staff bearing a cross they leaped up from their bases and rolled to “the place of the city's stadia.” But the wizards stop them, and the magical battle between the wizards and Basil's group comes to a standstill. As night falls, Basil decides to dismiss his group and rest.
That night the Virgin Mary returned to Basil’s dreams. In this dream, she vowed that the evil wizards could be defeated for “Those who did this evil deed of impertinent magic, behold, they are blind, grasping.” When Basil woke up, healing water began to bubble from the base of the two columns creating “a stream that miraculously heals people.” Then, miraculously, the earth opened up and consumed the wizards, and Basil found the promised image of the Virgin Mary atop the two magical columns.
In the other newly translated ancient Christian text: a tale of demons! (sellingpix / Adobe Stock)
The Other Ancient Text Tells of Trapping Demons And More
The other newly translated ancient Christian text, this time an 11th or 12th century AD Greek work, tells of the Apostle Peter trapping “seven demons,” who were posing as angels in the city of Azotus (Ashdod) in what is now Israel. In the text, Peter, who is suspicious of the "angels," inscribes a circle around them. Six of the demons admit to Peter that they are, in fact, demons of deception, sexual immorality, falsehood, adultery, avarice and slander. The seventh demon challenges Peter and asks what right he has and why God doesn’t also forgive demon sins. The only surviving copy of this text is in the Biblioteca Angelica library in Rome.
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Another text tells the tale of a bandit/border guard named Dimas who was crucified next to Jesus after helping and his family when they tried to flee to Egypt to escape from King Herod, who wanted Jesus dead. Speaking with Live Science, Mark Bilby, a senior assistant librarian of scholarly communication and lecturer of Religious Studies at California State University, who translated this last text, says this last apocryphal text was written in Latin and dates back to the 12th or 13th century AD. He said that in the Middle Ages a number of stories were written telling the story of the criminals crucified beside Jesus.
For the sake of preserving religious texts and Christian heritage, perhaps Part 3 of the Bible should be written, adding to the Old and New Testaments. Part 3 of the bible would of course be called the “Dark Testament,” and include all 300 of the edited-out apocryphal stories,
Top image: Stories of wizard and demon battles have been found in ancient Christian texts. Ere, Helidor fights on a horse in collage from engraving of Nazareene School, published in The Holy Bible, St.Vojtech Publishing, Trnava, Slovakia, 1937. Source: fluenta
By Ashley Cowie