Exodus 22:18 famously reads, in the King James Version "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." We hear that this passage was a central reason for the witchtrials craze of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, it is interesting to compare it with the Latin Vulgate which was the one that would have been familiar in the Middle Ages and to Catholics. It reads "Maleficos non patieris vivere." which means, "You will not allow a practioner of harmful magic to live." It is interesting that the Vulgate is narrower than the King James Version in its definition of the prohibited activity.
Could this be part of the reason for the Catholic Church's unwillingness to launch an assault on magic in the Middle Ages? Certainly the Vulgate understands the distinction between good and bad magic and stipulates punishment only for the latter. And how much effect did the King James Version's translation have in English speaking countries. Certainly, it was the one that the burghers of Salem would have had to hand. The Greek Old Testament uses a word that Liddell and Scott define as "a poisoner, sorceror, magician... a general term of reproach." Does anyone know what the Hebrew term used is?
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