When one of France's leading magicians challenges himself to scrutinize and explain all Biblical miracles.
In this fascinating book, Gérard Majax aims to find a rational explanation for every miracle described in the Bible. It should be stressed that Majax openly and conciously acknowledges some biases and convictions. First the author assumes that the miracles really happened. Then Majax takes them on their very literal meaning, far from any symbolic approach. For instance, when Jesus makes one blind person recover sight , Majax will focus on the technical methods that could do it, and openly disregards the symbols. Last, but not least the author does not want to question anyone's faith. The book's purpose is clearly to explain all the miracles and set a new approach (technical, scientific, rational), far from undermining the believers' convictions and faith.
We do indeed have to keep in mind that throughout his career one of Majax's main goals was to relentlessly warn audiences all over the world against pseudo wizzards and gurus and this book clearly follows this path. It is then no surprise that the book starts by narrating once more some of his most dedicated "fights", among which the confrontation with Uri Geller clearly is the most famous (at least in the magicians' community!)
Before going deep into the explanations of the wonders, Majax brings to our attention a very common process we do not pay enough attention to: when telling their stories, witnesses very often modify, more or less deliberately, the things they saw and some of them even end up firmly believing what they think they saw. There is a huge gap between the original event as it happened and its description in the Bible, due to self-conviction, embellishments and distorsions. The author also wants us to keep in mind that the words used in the Bible did not necessarily have the same meaning back then as they have today. For instance, when Jesus makes a man see again, we immediately picture someone who was totally blind; whereas back in the days "blind" could simply mean a condition such as conjuctivitis (or blurred vision). Lastly Majax spends time proving the point that many of the feats relayed in the Bible are simply taken from other holy books from other parts of the world.
The book divides itself in two parts: miracles from the Old, then from the New, Testaments. Each of them is presented in the same format: the author first quotes the Bible, the he recaps the events and puts them into the narrative context before finally giving one plausible explanation. When it comes to the Old Testament, Majax is less an illusionist than a scientist: no gimmicks, no sleights of hands, everything can be explained thanks to seismic activity, volcanoes and climate disasters. And you will be shocked to learn that yes, some extreme weather and wind events can make the see split in two at your feet! Following this, the book then focuses on the New Testament and on Jesus' illusions. Majax here lists most of the classical ways the "events", from loaves and fishes to ascension, could be performed: stooges, hidden assistants, secret apparatus, placebo and self-conviction, and so on.
Majax concludes with the importance of keeping in mind the real strength of these texts and the true powers of the messages of the prophets, whatever our faith is.
In concluding, I would suggest that this very interesting book clearly reflects Majax's magic: simple, direct, straightforward.