Malleus Maleficarum: First Question

Is the claim that users of magic exist so true, that to say the opposite is heresy?

Basically, this question and the succeeding chapter seek to prove the existence of magical forces in the world. First, we are presented with the most common claims to the opposite, namely that only God may change things within the world or in the human body. Through this it must then also be true that demons and witches have no powers.

These claims are then debunked, using Bible verses and writings of such wise old men as Augustine and Ambrosius among others. Unfortunately I’m not that familiar with such works as summa contra gentiles, de civitate Dei and de doctrina christiana as to argue with any of the arguments… and my latin is sketchy at best.

The basic ideas presented to us are as follows: God may want to use the magic as a punishment for the victim and thus allows the evil to happen; the Bible gives examples of God allowing demons to have an influence; and God’s law decrees that witches must die. Isn’t that an irrefutable argument for witches existing if anything, so bad they must die? Ancient laws against fortune telling, scrying and witchcraft also serve as prove to the existence of magic.

We arrive then to the conclusion that the Devil and demons may work in the world by themselves or through magic users if God so allows. These magic users, if caught, must then be punished as decreed in law. We are also reminded that everyone should turn in their neighborhood witch.


I daresay it took me an hour to get an understanding of the chapter. I’m not particularly sure I still understood everything right, and this book is in my first language. Oh my, I do not know how I’ll pull this through. I really thought there’d never be a day when I didn’t understand what I’m reading (with the exception of government forms, no one understands those).

The translator has done an amazing job, it couldn’t have been easy to tackle that particular beast. My Bible must be a bit different of the one used in the book, however, because I checked the verses and some of them ‘weren’t there’, as in the number didn’t match. In one case there was a verse, but the contents didn’t match the subject matter. It is also completely possible this is due to my inferior Bible-skills.

So far I can’t really argue with the book. If we accept the existence of God as true and Bible as truth as well, the arguments against the questions are sound.

Next up, Question Two.

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