Jewish Love Magic: From Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages is the first monograph dedicated to the supernatural methods employed by Jews in order to generate love, grace or hate. Examining hundreds of manuscripts, often unpublished, Ortal-Paz Saar skillfully illuminates a major aspect of the Jewish magical tradition.
The book explores rituals, spells and important motifs of Jewish love magic, repeatedly comparing them to the Graeco-Roman and Christian traditions. In addition to recipes and amulets in Hebrew, Aramaic and Judaeo-Arabic, primarily originating in the Cairo Genizah, also rabbinic sources and responsa are analysed, resulting in a comprehensive and fascinating picture.
“Due to the general neglect of the topic in previous scholarship, the richness of the research corpus and the scientific precision of the author, Saar’s
Jewish Love Magic is an important volume that should be on the shelf of every scholar focusing on ancient Jewish magic, but also on Jewish culture and cultural history in general. Furthermore, the book is an enjoyable read also for a non-specialist audience thanks to its clarity and fluency.” - Alessia Belusci,
Yale University, in:
Journal of Semitic Studies 64.2 (2019)
Amidst various methodologies for the comparative study of the Hebrew Bible, at times the opportunity arises to improve on a method recently introduced into the field. In
YHWH is King, Flynn uses the anthropological method of cultural translation to study diachronic change in YHWH’s kingship. Here, such change is compared to a similar Babylonian development to Marduk’s kingship. Based on that comparison and informed by cultural translation, Flynn discovers that Judahite scribes suppressed the earlier YHWH warrior king and promoted a creator/universal king in order to combat the increasing threat of Neo-Assyrian imperialism. Flynn thus opens the possibility, that Judahite scribes engaged in a cultural translation of Marduk to YHWH, in order to respond to the mounting Neo-Assyrian presence.