Asbury New Testament Scholar Publishes Article about Miracles and Magic – Asbury University
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October 31, 2022

Dr. Joy Vaughan, assistant professor of New Testament at Asbury University, published a new article contrasting miracles with magical practices in Acts 19. Bringing Evidence to the “Anti-magic” View: A Socio-rhetorical Interpretation of Acts 19:11-20 is available through The Asbury Journal, which publishes scholarly essays and book reviews written from a Wesleyan perspective: https://place.asburyseminary.edu/asburyjournal/vol77/iss2/14/?fbclid=IwAR1U7px3PJF_N1PLsVVbrLsxFXcNy1lLMRSRwMGL9ia_9KWcM1K4QYUjBa8.

“Paul the Apostle’s actions are depicted as successful because he is an agent of God; he is in relationship with God,” Vaughan said, highlighting the findings in her article. “The Jewish exorcists lacked this connection, and their attempt to use Jesus’ name, for a display of power, failed. In great awe, Jews, Greeks, and residents of Ephesus confessed their practices with many burning their expensive magical books and praising the Lord Jesus.”

Vaughan received her M.Div. from Oral Roberts University, her M.A. in Biblical Literature from Oral Roberts University, and her Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary. Her research explores spirit possession and exorcism accounts in the New Testament.

Vaughan noted that according to one anthropologist, “Seventy-four percent of global societies believe in spirit possession.” She added, “The Western world tends to be dismissive about the existence of evil spirits. In the West, stories of demonic or supernatural phenomenon are often sought for entertainment value and have focused less on the reality of spirits.”

In addition to publishing this recent article, Vaughan is finalizing a manuscript for Baylor University Press entitled, Phenomenal Phenomena: A Multi-Cultural Reading of New Testament Spirit Possession Accounts. To be published within the next year, this book explores biblical exorcisms and global conversations about the perceptions of spirits in the modern world. Vaughan also recently visited the Kentucky State University Wesley Foundation on October 27 and taught on spiritual warfare.  

“From Acts 19, we are reminded that Christianity is not formulaic in practice; our faith is genuinely based on our relationship with God,” Vaughan said. “When God’s power is revealed, we stand in awe and witness real change.”

Additionally, Vaughan expressed enthusiasm about N.T. Wright’s upcoming visit to Asbury University on November 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Hughes Auditorium as part of Asbury Theological Seminary’s centennial celebration. Wright is an English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and Anglican bishop who has written over 70 books for both academic and theological readers.

The Asbury University Christian Studies and Philosophy Department offers seven majors and six minors for traditional undergraduate students, including youth ministry, Bible-theology, intercultural studies, and pastoral ministries. The Online program offers a major in leadership and ministry: https://www.asbury.edu/academics/degrees/online/leadership-ministry/.