In the midst of academic debates about the utility of the term “magic” and the cultural meaning of ancient words like
Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic seeks to advance the discussion by separating out three topics essential to the very idea of magic. The three major sections of this volume address (1) indigenous terminologies for ambiguous or illicit ritual in antiquity; (2) the ancient texts, manuals, and artifacts commonly designated “magical” or used to represent ancient magic; and (3) a series of contexts, from the written word to materiality itself, to which the term “magic” might usefully pertain.
The individual essays in this volume cover most of Mediterranean and Near Eastern antiquity, with essays by both established and emergent scholars of ancient religions.
In a burgeoning field of “magic studies” trying both to preserve and to justify critically the category itself, this volume brings new clarity and provocative insights. This will be an indispensable resource to all interested in magic in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, ancient Greece and Rome, Early Christianity and Judaism, Egypt through the Christian period, and also comparative and critical theory.
David Frankfurter, Ph.D. (1990) Princeton University, is Professor of Religion at Boston University. A scholar of ancient religions, Frankfurter is the author of
Religion in Roman Egypt (Princeton, 1998); and
Christianizing Egypt (Princeton, 2017), as well as many articles on magic and popular devotion.
Contributors are: Magali Bailliot, Gideon Bohak, Véronique Dasen, Albert de Jong, Jacco Dieleman, Esther Eidinow, David Frankfurter, Fritz Graf, Yuval Harari, Naomi Janowitz, Sarah Iles Johnston, Roy D. Kotansky, Arpad M. Nagy, Daniel Schwemer, Joseph E. Sanzo, Jacques van der Vliet, Andrew Wilburn.
"Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic analyzes magic expansively, including a wide range of traditions and methodologies (...)
Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic is an excellent volume for a detailed overview of studies of magic in the ancient world."
- William Brown,
The Biblical Review, July 2019.
"The Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic works well as a reference volume, and this is particularly evident in its three-part structure (...)" [it] is yet a critical resource for its efforts at suggesting what magic could be, yes, but more importantly, for highlighting what ancient magic certainly was not."
- Shaily Shashikant Patel, Virginia Tech,
Journal of the American Academy of Religion 87.4, 2019.
"Few collections can boast such a number of authorities as the copious
Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic (...) Provided that one accepts a wider definition of magic, there is a great deal to learn from this book, which will be particularly useful to expert readers who are already familiar with the topic."
- Leonardo Constantini, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg,
The Classical Review 1-3, 2019.
"The book will perfectly serve as a general introduction to the field and can be recommended due to the fast scope of covered material."
- Pavel Horák, The Czech Academy of Sciences,
Religious Studies Review 45, 4. December 2019.
"Die Kombination von historischer, philologischer und archäologischer Perspektive erlaubt verschiedene Zugänge zur antiken Magie, während der vierte Teil des Guides konzeptuelle Fragen aufwirft und zu weiteren Studien anregen wird."
- Daniel Vaucher, Universität Bern,
Vigiliae Christianae 74.1, 2020.
Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic analyseert magie uitgebreid, inclusief een breed scala aan tradities en methoden (...) een zeer goed en leesbaar boek over magie in de Oudheid."
- Mark Beumer,
Kleio-Hiostoria 11, 2020.
Preface List of Illustrations Abbreviations Notes on Contributors
Part 1: Introduction
1 Ancient Magic in a New Key: Refining an Exotic Discipline in the History of Religions David Frankfurter
2 The Plan of This Volume David Frankfurter
Part 2: Cultural Constructions of Ambiguous, Unsanctioned, or Illegitimate Ritual
3 Introduction David Frankfurter
4 Mesopotamia Daniel Schwemer
5 Iran Albert de Jong
6 Egypt Jacco Dieleman
7 Greece Fritz Graf
8 Ancient Israel and Early Judaism: Wonders, Power, and Social Order Yuval Harari
9 Rome and the Roman Empire Magali Bailliot
10 Early Christianity Joseph E. Sanzo
11 Roman and Byzantine Egypt Jacques van der Vliet
Part 3: The Materials of Ancient Magic
12 Introduction David Frankfurter
13 The Greco-Egyptian Magical Papyri Jacco Dieleman
14 Christian Spells and Manuals from Egypt Jacques van der Vliet
15 Binding Spells on Tablets and Papyri Esther Eidinow
16 Jewish Amulets, Magic Bowls, and Manuals in Aramaic and Hebrew Gideon Bohak
17 Gems Véronique Dasen and Árpád M. Nagy
18 Figurines, Images, and Representations Used in Ritual Practices Andrew Wilburn
19 Textual Amulets and Writing Traditions in the Ancient World Roy D. Kotansky
20 Building Ritual Agency: Foundations, Floors, Doors, and Walls Andrew Wilburn
Part 4: Dimensions of a Category Magic
21 Introduction David Frankfurter
22 Spell and Speech Act: The Magic of the Spoken Word David Frankfurter
23 The Magic of Writing in Mediterranean Antiquity David Frankfurter
24 Magic and the Forces of Materiality David Frankfurter
25 The Magical Elements of Mysticism: Ritual Strategies for Encountering Divinity Naomi Janowitz
26 Magic and Theurgy Sarah Iles Johnston
27 Magic as the Local Application of Authoritative Tradition David Frankfurter
28 Magic and Social Tension Esther Eidinow
All interested in magic in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, in ancient Greece and Rome, in Early Christianity and Judaism, in Egypt through the Christian period, and in comparative and critical theory.