Magicians of Antiquity become Priests of Today
|Very early depictions of magicians with their magic wand.|
The Roman Empire and the modern era begin with the commonly-held belief in and practice of magic, recognised in Roman law.
The divine man of the gospels was therefore understood to use magic for his miracles; he is a magician and is often depicted performing with his magic wand.
This divine man - called in the early texts Is Chrest - is of a type. Later, this type is described as composed of philosophers, whereas they are simply magicians, or wizards - performers of magic.
So in the first century, they are (neo-)Pythagoreans, and later, they are (neo-)Platonists, but whatever term they are given, they are still, simply magicians.
The most famous in Antiquity is probably Apollonius of Tyana:
His primary biographer, Philostratus the Elder (circa 170 – c. 247), places him circa 3 B.C. – c. 97 A.D. .[Dzielska, M (1986). "On the memoirs of Damis". Apollonius of Tyana in legend and history. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider. pp. 19–50. ISBN 88-7062-599-0.][Philostratus, LF; Eells, CP (1923). Life and times of Apollonius of Tyana. Stanford, California: Stanford University publications: University series. p. 3.]
Philostratus describes Apollonius as a wandering teacher of philosophy and miracle worker who was mainly active in Greece and Asia Minor but also traveled to Italy, Spain and North Africa and even to Mesopotamia, India, and Ethiopia. In particular, he tells lengthy stories of Apollonius entering the city of Rome in disregard of Emperor Nero’s ban on philosophers, and later on being summoned, as a defendant, to the court of Domitian, where he defied the Emperor in blunt terms. He had allegedly been accused of conspiring against the Emperor, performing human sacrifice, and predicting a plague by means of magic. Philostratus implies that upon his death, Apollonius of Tyana underwent heavenly assumption.[Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 8.30-31.]
|Orant gesture, Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome|
The orans posture was practiced by both pagans and Jews before it was adopted by the earliest Christians.
Until the 9th century, the posture was sometimes adopted by entire congregations while celebrating the Eucharist.[Stephen Burns, SCM Studyguide to Liturgy (Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd, 2006), 62.] By the 12th century, however, the joining of hands began to replace the orans posture as the preferred position for prayer. It continued to be used at certain points in the liturgies of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. In the Catholic Mass, it occurs at the orations, the Canon, and the Lord's Prayer.
|Modern baptism of a child by affusion.|
An invocation is an appeal to a higher power for help, such as a prayer for serenity or a plea to the rain gods during a drought. An invocation often refers to an appeal to something not of this world, such as a god or a spirit, but it can involve an appeal to any higher power, even one that is flesh and blood.
|Early figurine of a Baal|
The missionary history of the [Catholic] Church clearly shows her adaptability to all races, all continents, all nations. In her liturgy and her art, in her tradition and the forming of her doctrine, naturally enough she includes Jewish elements, but also elements that are of pagan origin. In certain respects, she has copied her organization from that of the Roman Empire, has preserved and made fruitful the philosophical intuitions of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, borrowed from both Barbarians and the Byzantine Roman Empire—but always remains herself, thoroughly digesting all elements drawn from external sources...In her laws, her ceremonies, her festivals and her devotions, she makes use of local customs after purifying them and "baptizing" them. (Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism)Our priests of today are the magicians of antiquity.
See also: Archaeology of a first-century wizard