Does the Bible recognize ghosts?
Spirits in Matthew 8:28.
Jesus forces a couple of possessing demons into a herd of swine, which then run over a cliff and drown.
Define “ghosts”? Many reference to the existence of demons in the Bible. Including demons that possessed humans. Mary Magdalene, who it was said Jesus cast out of a number of demons, is likely the most well known example.
Depends how you define ghost.
Sounds like a ghost to me. The two major problems are that it isn’t at all clear whether anyone but the witch could actually see it. It’s also possible that Saul could only hear it via the witch, like a modern medium. The second problem is that some interpretations say it was spirit impersonating Samuel sent by Satan, not a real ghost. Of course I see nothing to support such an interpretation but that’s the Bible for ya.
More convincing is
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.”
However these would appear to all refer to people who were in ‘heaven’ who had returned to Earth. I’m not quite sure what the distinction is between a transfigured human angel on Erath and ghost, or even if there is one. Either way the Bible clearly suggests that dead people appear on Earth, which to me is a ghost.
Let us not forget the witch of Endor.
Reeder I just posted the appropriate verses on the witch of Endor.
[ul][li]The incident cobcerning the witch of Endor[/li][li]The disciples confused jesus for a ghost (Luke 24:37). Jesus did not correct their theological understanding but proceded to demonstrate that he was not a ghost.[/li][li]The believers confused Peter for a ghost according to some translations. (Acts 12:15) The word is more properly translated angel. (Greek = aggelos)[/li][li]There are numerous references in the Pentateuch forbiddiing consulting the dead – implying that such a thing is possible.[/ul][/li]
In my immediate recollection, these are the only references to ghosts in the bible. It is interesting that all of these are oblique references. Even in the incident at Endor, the woman relates verbally to Saul what she is seeing. The bible does not dispute the existance of ghosts but does not provide enough details, either in explanation or by example to form a full understanding of what they are or how they operate.
In my understanding I would put demons in a different category altogether and would not list them as ghosts. Thus the demons in the swine (mentioned by Squink) or those afflicting Mary of Magdala (mentioned by rfgdxm) are not IMO ghosts. There is a lot of detail on demons provided in the bible – mostly through Jesus’ dealings with them in expelling them.
For the record, the phrase “demon possession” is not a particularly accurate rendition of the Greek words used. Possession implies ownership, which is something neither stated nor implied by the Greek. The phrases used would be better translated as “to have an unclean spirit”, “to be in an unclean spirit”, “to have the spirit of an unclean demon”, “to be demonised”.
For she was small and fuzzy, and lo she drove out the chickenwalkers, and there was much rejoicing. Yaay.
Yub Yub Amen.