James D.G. Dunn and Graham H. Twelftree make this interesting observation in an essay titled “Demon-Possession and Exorcism in the New Testament”:

“Had the picture of Jesus as exorcist been entirely the creation of the early Church, we would have expected the form of the exorcism stories to confirm even more closely than they do to contemporary parallels. For example, there is no report of Jesus using physical aids, as in Tobit (burning the heart and liver of a fish), or Josephus (the smell of a root), or magical papyri (use of amulets). He does not even pray, as does Hanina ben Dosa (b. Ber. 34b), or lay his hands on the demoniac, as in the Genesis Apocryphon. Perhaps most striking of all, he does not invoke any authority or power source. The use of a powerful name was very typical in exorcism, and the formula, ‘I adjure you by…,’ is very common in later magic papyri (e.g., PGm 4).” [1]

Jesus’ exorcisms appear to be quite unique in that he uses no tricks or gimmicks, nor does he appeal to any external authority, but he is remembered/depicted as overcoming evil by his own authority.


[1] J.D.G. Dunn and G.H. Twelftree, “Demon-Possession and Exorcism in the New Testament” in The Christ and the Spirit: V. 2, Pneumatology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 175.