It is, however, also possible that ehyeh asher ehyeh is a deliberately vague phrase, whose purpose is antimagical and an attempt to evade the question (Rosenzweig speaks of this as well), as if to suggest that possession of the true name cannot be used to coerce this God. In this interpretation, it would follow that, just as God is magicless (see v. 20), he is nameless, at least in the conventional sense of religion. On the other hand, the name YHWH, however it may have been vocalized throughout the history of the text, did function as a name in ancient Israel (and possibly outside of Israel as well). It was used in oaths (e.g., Gen. 22:16, II Sam. r2:5), and later, in the Second Temple period, limited in public pronunciation to the high priest on the Day of Atonement. As happens frequently in the history of religion, if we follow a concept long enough it transforms back to the beginning, often in an opposite meaning, and so when the use of YHWH is traced through the Middle Ages one finds it turned into a magical name at the hands of Jewish mystics.
(The Five Books of Moses, Everett Fox page 270)
Said R. Ishmael: “Happy are you, Ben Dama, for you have expired in peace and did not break down the prohibition (gezeran) established by the Sages! For whoever breaks down the hedge (gederan) erected by the Sages eventually suffers punishment, as it is said: He who breaks down a hedge (geder) is bitten by a snake” (Eccl. 10:8).
Schäfer, Peter. Jesus in the Talmud (p. 78). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
Matthew Chapter 2.
The Escape to Egypt
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”
Celsus’ reference explicitly mentions the connection between Jesus and magical powers (acquired in Egypt) and concludes that because of these powers Jesus was convinced to be God: “He [Jesus] hired himself out as a workman in Egypt, and there tried his hand at certain magical powers on which the Egyptians pride themselves; he returned full of conceit, because of these powers, and on account of them gave himself the title of God.”
Schäfer, Peter. Jesus in the Talmud (p. 82). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
Acts 8:9-13 Simon the Sorcerer
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
We argued .. that Jesus won his following primarily as a miracle worker and that if we begin with the miracles we can understand his authority as a teacher, his involvement in messianic speculation, and his ultimate crucifixion, but if we begin with the teaching, his role as a miracle worker and the consequent events and beliefs are unexplained. Of (literally) thousands of teachers of the Law recorded in rabbinic literature, none had a career similar to that of Jesus. He is a figure of a different Social type.
These arguments (by Origen) to prove Jesus was not a magician enable us to reconstruct, by reversing them, the concept of "magician" they imply: a miracle worker whose wonders are illusory, transient, produced by tricks or by the help of demons controlled by spells, sacrifices, and magical paraphernalia. Such a man is primarily an entertainer whose feats are trivial, performed for money, and of no practical value.
He is not a figure in any respectable religious tradition; no prophets foretold him, no converts follow him; he has no message and no disciples, but at most a spiel and an apprentice.
Summing up the results of our comparison we find:
The story of the coming of the spirit and its Consequences has magical not prophetic, sources.
The story of the retirement to the wilderness is of dubious background. It was adapted by Q to emphasize the difference between Jesus and the prophets: they got their authorization from the god of this world, Jesus overcame him.
The call of the disciples is also of dubious background. Q contrasted it with Elijah's call of Elisha, to Jesus' advantage.
The exorcisms are unparalleled in the stories of the prophets.
The cures are far more frequent than they are in stories of the prophets. Of all the gospel cures only the two healings of leprosy have close parallels in the stories of Moses, Elijah, amd Elisha; these two were probably invented to show Jesus' superiority to the prophets.
Jesus' ability to command, send, and give spirits is unparalleled in the stories of the prophets.
His forgiving of sins is also unparalleled.
Jesus' particular prophecies (predictions) and "second sight" are equally paralleled by prophetic and magical sources. His eschatological sermons are most closely paralleled by those of the Syrian prophets reported by Celsus.
Jesus' raisings of the dead resemble those of Apollonius more closely than chose of Elijah and Elisha; among the evangelists' many reasons for reporting them was perhaps a desire to show Jesus' superiority to the prophets.
The stories of feeding the multitude were modeled on the story of Elisha and intended to show Jesus' superiority to him.
The story of the miracle in Cana was modeled on a Sidonian cult legend, but so told as to show Jesus' superiority to Moses,.
Stilling the storm and withering the fig tree have both magical and Old Testament connections, but do not come from the stories of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha.
Walking on the sea has a magical background, but is told to show Jesus' superiority to Moses.
The miraculous escapes, etc., come from magical tradition.
The transfiguration story reflects a magical rite but may also have been infueenced by prophetic examples. It has been made over to show Jesus' superiority to the Law and the prophets.
The eucharist is a magical rite unparalleled in prophetic legends.
The ascension resembles magical examples more closely than it does Elijah's.
The sayings about spirits and their doings have magical rather than prophetic analogues.
The same is true for the "I am" sayings.
The desire to show Jesus' superiority to the prophets has produced two stories of his refusing to perform prophetic miracles (not calling down fire and not asking for an angelic bodyguard).
This list could be supplemented by another, of things a prophet should do and Jesus did not, but even by itself it suffices to refute the notion that the gospels' picture of Jesus was derived mainly from a prophet, or from the prophetic tradition. Jesus'
fundamental activities -exorcisms and cures-are either unknown (exorcisms) or rare
(cures) in the stories of the prophets. His getting the spirit had magical, not prophetic, analogues and consequences; so did his dealings with spirits and sayings about them, so did the majority of the miscellaneous miracles with which he was credited. He initiated his disciples and bound them to himself by magical rites unknown to the prophets, and his notions of their union with him and of his own divine nature are not prophetic but magical. Finally, the practice of telling stories about him so as to show his superiority to Moses and the other prophets explains why many stories have been told so as to parallel and contrast with Old Testament episodes. Such parallels-for-the- sake-of-contrast belong to the late, apologetic and propagandistic strata of the gospels, and reduce the amount of Old Testament material that can be assigned to the earliest stage of the tradition. While he was alive the important question was what he could do, not how he compared with the prophets. The latter became important a generation or so after his death when Jews and Christians got down to arguing about the relative merits of their respective heroes.
Jesus the Magician: A Renowned Historian Reveals How Jesus was Viewed by People of His Time Paperback – August 27, 2014 by Morton Smith
For online pdf go here: https://www.docdroid.net/KxikeM9/morton-smith-jesus-the-magician-pdf
[Peter Schafer's] main thesis is that not only the emerging Christianity drew on contemporary Judaism but that rabbinic Judaism, too, tapped into ideas and concepts of Christianity to shape its own identity; that, far from being forever frozen in ingrained hostility, the two sister religions engaged in a profound interaction during late antiquity. Even more, it posits that in certain cases the rabbis appropriated Christian ideas that the Christians had inherited from the Jews, hence that rabbinic Judaism reappropriated originally Jewish ideas that were usurped by Christianity.
Schäfer, Peter. The Jewish Jesus . Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.