In Jesus the Magician Morton Smith contends that two prevailing interpretations of Jesus and his “ministry” emerged among the populace of the ancient world who had something to say about the Jesus event. The first interpretation - namely, “Jesus the Son of God,” was the position taken among those followers of Jesus who would eventually triumph in establishing their view as orthodox. The second interpretation – namely, “Jesus the Magician,” was an emerging understanding of Jesus that coexisted with the “Son of God” interpretation but was later expunged from the scene with the mass destruction of its textual sources starting at the time of emperor Constantine in 326 A.D.
In the next several weeks I will be posting chapter summaries of Jesus the Magician as I work my way through the text. It is my hope that these summaries will be of interest to those who have an academic interest in what it meant to be a first century magician in Palestine.