Sortilege—the making of decisions by casting lots—was widely practiced in the Mediterranean world during the period known as late antiquity, between the third and eighth centuries CE. In
My Lots are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and its Practitioners in Late Antiquity, AnneMarie Luijendijk and William Klingshirn have collected fourteen essays that examine late antique lot divination, especially but not exclusively through texts preserved in Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac. Employing the overlapping perspectives of religious studies, classics, anthropology, economics, and history, contributors study a variety of topics, including the hermeneutics and operations of divinatory texts, the importance of diviners and their instruments, and the place of faith and doubt in the search for hidden order in a seemingly random world.
AnneMarie Luijendijk, ThD (2005), Harvard University, is Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She researches early Christianity and late antique manuscript culture. Her publications include a new Coptic divinatory text:
Forbidden Oracles: The Gospel of the Lots of Mary.
William Klingshirn, Ph.D. (1985), Stanford University, is Professor of Greek and Latin at the Catholic University of America. He has published numerous articles on divination in the Mediterranean world and is currently writing a book on diviners in late antiquity.
Contributors are: Jeff Childers, Salvatore Costanza, David Frankfurter, William E. Klingshirn, Alexander Kocar, AnneMarie Luijendijk, Michael Meerson, Franziska Naether, Laura S. Nasrallah, David M. Ratzan, Randall Stewart, Pieter W. van der Horst, Kevin W. Wilkinson
"The volume offers several important correctives to prevailing scholarly biases about sortes, especially their relationship to late antique Christianity (...) the editors ought to be congratulated for producing an excellent volume that will certainly serve as an essential guide for future scholarship on late antique sortilege and its practitioners."
- Joseph E. Sanzo, University of Warwick,
Bryn Mawr Classical Review, September 2019.
Table of contents
Preface List of Figures Abbreviations Notes on Contributors Introduction
1 The Literature of Lot Divination AnneMarie Luijendijk and William E. Klingshirn
2 The Instruments of Lot Divination William E. Klingshirn
3 Fateful Spasms: Palmomancy and Late Antique Lot Divination Salvatore Costanza
4 Hermēneiai in Manuscripts of John’s Gospel: an Aid to Bibliomancy Kevin Wilkinson
5 Hermeneutics and Magic: a Unique Syriac Biblical Manuscript as an Oracle of Interpretation Jeff W. Childers
6 Secondhand Homer Michael Meerson
7 Sortes Biblicae Judaicae Pieter W. van der Horst
8 The Sortes Barberinianae within the Tradition of Oracular Texts Randall Stewart
9 Oxyrhynchus and Oracles in Late Antiquity Alexander Kocar
10 Sortes, Scribality, and Syncretism: Ritual Experts and the Great Tradition in Byzantine Egypt David Frankfurter
11 Sortilege between Divine Ordeals and “Secular” Justice: Aspects of Jurisdiction in (Ritual) Texts from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt Franziska Naether
12 Freakonomika: Oracle as Economic Indicator in Roman Egypt David M. Ratzan
13 “I Do Not Wish to Be Rich”: The ‘Barbarian’ Christian Tatian Responds to Sortes Laura Salah Nasrallah
14 “Only Do Not Be of Two Minds”: Doubt in Christian Lot Divination AnneMarie Luijendijk
Scholars and students interested in divination, late antiquity, religion, classics, papyrology, and manuscripts.