Here’s an excerpt from Stephen M. Miller’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, coming April Fool’s Day.
This is the short entry about exorcism.
The dictionary is an easy-reading, illustrated book for Bible newbies. It’s actually billed as the Bible dictionary for people who hate Bible dictionaries. That should be a fairly vast market, you’d think.
“If I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too.”
Jesus to Pharisees, Luke 11:19
DEMONS ENTERED PEOPLE.
That was a widespread belief throughout the ancient Middle East. These demons caused a world of hurt: physical illnesses, destructive behavior, and lousy luck in general.
Pagans, Jews, and Christians all conducted exorcism rituals. Many how-to records survive.
In one, the exorcist made a figurine of the possessed person, ordered the demon out, and then broke the figurine.
First-century Jewish historian, Josephus, said he watched an exorcist tie a ring to a small root and then put the ring next to the possessed man’s nose.
The exorcist pulled the ring as though pulling the demon out through the man’s nose.
The possessed man collapsed and the exorcist started reciting incantations, ordering the demon to never come back.
The Bible says some Jewish exorcists once tried invoking the name of Jesus and Paul.
But the demon replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15).
The possessed man then attacked the would-be exorcists.
What followed was a switcheroo as far as Bible exorcisms are concerned: the demon drove off the exorcists.