Tag Archives: demonology

The exorcism of a girl by the Rev. Johann Christoph Blumhardt


Johann Christoph Blumhardt, evangelisch-luther...

Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805–1880)

Over at the blog run by several key folks at BIOLA’s Torrey Honors Institute, The Scriptorium Daily, today’s date elicited a meditation on Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805-1880) and the exorcism that propelled him to fame, such that he came to influence Karl Barth, among others. The following is written by Fred Sanders:

Today (December 28) in 1843, an unclean spirit cried “Jesus is victor!” as it departed from a young girl in Möttlingen, Germany.

The possessed girl was Gottliebin Dittus, and the presiding pastor was Johann Christoph Blumhardt (1805-1880). An account of the conflict can be read in the book The Awakening, available as a free pdf from Plough books. In fact, several books by and about Blumhardt and his son are available from Plough. The account of Blumhardt’s encounter with the unclean spirit is carefully written to avoid anything prurient, and to discourage unhealthy curiosity. But given the subject matter, it’s inevitably chilling and weird. It ranges from standard poltergeist behavior (loud knocking) to apparitions of the guilty departed, to intimations of the dark, spiritual world inhabited by fallen angels. Some of the scenes are, to speak anachronistically, straight out of exorcist movies. Continue reading

What did medieval people think caused illnesses?


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This is a second post grabbing some insights from a fascinating book by Darrel W. Amundsen—Medicine, Society, and Faith in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). The first post shared some of Amundsen’s observations on early Christian attitudes toward medicine and physicians.

In the excerpts in this post, Amundsen explores what medieval Christians thought caused illnesses, starting with some remarks on causality in mental illness or insanity. Along the way, he busts some myths. For example, many modern commentators believe–based on some misleading evidence in the sources themselves–that medievals assumed all illnesses came from devilish or demonic sources, or, a variant, from some hidden sin in the sick person. Not so, says Amundsen. Continue reading