Miracle-workers and magicians are difficult characters for contemporary readers of Greco-Roman narratives to comprehend and to distinguish. Hindered both by our modern definitions of miracle and magic , we need to focus our attention on those ancient texts that deal with such characters and their differentiation. Two such texts, the Acts of the Apostles and Philostratus' Life of Apollonius , come from quite different religious backgrounds, but demonstrate remarkably similar subtle cultural scripts at play. A detailed investigation of the social interactions in these two narrative worlds brings these characters and their communities alive and reveals how legitimate miracle-workers were distinguished from illegitimate magicians by the Mediterranean population of the Greco-Roman world.
Andy Reimer is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at the Canadian Bible College, Saskatchewan.