Ben C. Smith wrote:
I will start with the treatment of independent exorcists.
Luke 9.49-50 (confer
49 John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”
13 But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified.
Casting out demons in Jesus' name produces very different results here.
Magic (as in belief that men could control demons who in turn control physical phenomenon, by means of incantations and rites) has always carried the risk of failing to achieve ones' goal. Usually this is perceived as some sort of failed attempt at the proper rituals. Magicians took very great pains to create amulets and such to pre-plant around town, usually buried, that could be called upon as needed at the moment.
I guess the author of Acts was assuming that these sons of Sceva (all seven at once?) must not have used the correct incantations or utilized improper ritual objects (the incantation is not given). That will teach them (which ties in with Luke, as Jesus did not forbid them, knowing that their attempts will fail - only Jesus has absolute authority, he's "connected" to the "big kahuna" IAO, so to speak, and does not need to use incantations/rituals).
But that is why all those ritual objects are buried around, so if the demon will not obey you, you find the object that summons the disobedient demon's superior demon, and command the superior demon to command his subordinate demon to comply with the magician's command. The appropriate incantations/rituals may well work, if only by chance, on the superior demon, You never know with them demons ... It does not appear that the sons of Sceva expected such a violent reaction by the demon in the man, as running away with their clothes torn off would have made attempting another incantation difficult, so they were clearly unprepared and mere amateurs.
And what the heck are seven "chief priest's" sons doing in Ephesus. Are we speaking of a shaman or pagan priest here? I wonder if the "chief priest" was not a Magian priest, and thus representative of Magi in general, popularly considered to be the highest authorities in such matters as demon commanding. The author of Acts is not phased, but amused, that they didn't know the proper incantations/rituals for such a demon. Everyone (= the author of Acts) knows that Judean "magicians" like Jesus would kick Magian priest ass, as the author of Luke describes Jesus' almost effortless abilities to command demons and by implication control the elements (sorry no alchemy here, the ancients only recognized four or five elements (air, fire, water, earth and on a good day ether).
This really only suggests that the two accounts do not have to be considered inconsistent with one another. Still, I'm not ready to equate the author of Luke with the author of Acts. If I remember correctly, there are differences in vocabulary (IIRC, the vocabulary of the author of Acts more closely resembles that of the gospel of John than the gospel of Luke, but I haven't located the article I thought I had read on the subject).