Wizards, Necromances, and Sorcerers, oh my!

I was discussing this subject with a friend, Chris, the other day, and he informed me that the word ‘wizard’ has nothing to do with magic, at least in its original origins. He has a pretty interesting article on it HERE.

A wizard is etymologically a ‘wiseman – indeed originally the word was used for ‘philosopher’ orsage’, without any suggestion of magical practices. It was derived from wise. The distinction between philosophy and magic was sufficiently blurred in the Middle Ages for the sense ‘magician’ to emerge in the 16th century, and that is the one which has prevailed.

– Word-Origins.com

Interesting, no? Tolkien knew this; that’s why his ‘wizards’ such as Gandalf were in fact ‘Istari,’ derrived from the word ‘Istar.’ One would actually think he knew what he was talking about!

 Let’s see what the Bible says about them.

Leviticus 19:31

 31Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.

Familiar Spirits would be demonic spirits, of course, but the interesting thing is that the word ‘wizard’ is a relatively modern one. The original Greek/Hebrew texts of the Bible wouldn’t have used the word ‘wizard’ as it still meant ‘wise one’ when the Bible was written.

Leviticus 20:6

And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

Again, ‘demon spirits’ is used in context with the word ‘wizard’ which would definitely indicate that the original word used would have been ‘Necromancer,’ which is a person who communicates with demonic spirits.

HOWEVER –

Sorcery, witchcraft, ‘channeling,’  etc. still are not acceptable according to the Bible.

So really, it depends on what the wizard is doing; what kind of wizard he is. Is he Gandalf? Or is he Harry Potter? Is he Fenworth, or is he Merlin? How is the character written, and is it acceptable within the confines of Biblical principles?

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9 thoughts on “Wizards, Necromances, and Sorcerers, oh my!

  1. Could it be possible that when the Bible got translated from Greek the word “wizard” was something else? It just seems funny, because it means ‘ wise man’.

    P.S. What about Lord of the Rings?

  2. Good points. I had an issue with this myself in a story I was writing because I wanted to call a certain group people “wizards” but realized the implications, even though they were clearly good characters (well, one turned bad, but that’s not the point). So because of that, I thought and thought and decided to use a different name for them. In a new story (*gasp* new story? after the horrendous disaster? yes), I might use “wizard” and I think the same thing might happen… there will be some that are clearly good and some that are clearly bad. But I don’t mess with “magic.”

  3. I think Gandalf is one of this exceptions. He’s more of a superhero (or more allegorically, which is not what Tolkien meant it to be: an angel) than a sorcerer 🙂

    ~Monica

    • HA! Believe it or not, I DID read that one!! I LOVED it!!! And the illustrations! *faints* Thank you SO much!
      And don’t worry about the name =D It happens all the time, trust me. ^.^

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