Asbury New Testament Scholar Publishes Book about Spirit Possession and Exorcisms – Asbury University
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Asbury New Testament Scholar Publishes Book about Spirit Possession and Exorcisms

Dr. Joy Vaughan’s “Phenomenal Phenomena: Biblical and Multicultural Accounts of Spirits and Exorcism” is available on Amazon

September 1, 2023

Assistant Professor of New Testament Dr. Joy Vaughan released a new book entitled, “Phenomenal Phenomena: Biblical and Multicultural Accounts of Spirits and Exorcism.” Published by Baylor University Press, the book surveys the intersection of Western and global perspectives to compare modern and ancient accounts of spirit phenomena:

“Today, the conception of spirits and demons has been mostly consigned to pop culture in films and novels,” Vaughan said. “Any notion of supernatural possession is often derided as outdated belief or legend. The Western world has essentially ‘cast out’ stories of exorcisms that persist throughout much of the world today. Consequently, Western Christians have a limited framework to interpret the exorcism accounts throughout the Synoptic Gospels and Acts in their depictions of the ministry of Jesus and his followers.”

To combat the limited Western lens of spirit possession, Vaughan’s book proposes that the New Testament texts involving spirit possession and exorcisms are genuine eyewitness testimonies.

“These texts might be interpreted by the modern reader in a wide variety of ways,” she continues. “However, in the ancient milieu, the reports fit how ancient persons thought about the spiritual realm.”

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 surrounds spirit possession and exorcism accounts in the New Testament.

Vaughan shares about her research findings in the book.

“After surveying a lot of anthropological and ethnographic texts, I found that there are many parallel characteristics of spirit possession in a wide variety of inter-religious multi-cultural contexts and the relevant biblical texts,” she said. “Considering these parallels is fascinating and eye-opening.”

Last year, Vaughan published an 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:

“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.”

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: