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New Perspectives on Tradition and Transformation
Volume Editors: Albert Geljon and Nienke Vos
Based on the paradigmatic shift in both liturgical and ritual studies, this multidisciplinary volume presents a collection of case studies on rituals in the early Christian world. After a methodological discussion of the new paradigm, it shows how emblematic Christian rituals were influenced by their Greco-Roman and Jewish contexts, undergoing multiple transformations, while themselves affecting developments both within and outside Christianity. Notably, parallel traditions in Judaism and Islam are included in the discussion, highlighting the importance of ongoing reception history. Focusing on the dynamic character of rituals, the new perspectives on ritual traditions pursued here relate to the expanding source material, both textual and material, as well as the development of recent interdisciplinary approaches, including the cognitive science of religion.
Author: I. Tzvi Abusch
In this volume, I. Tzvi Abusch presents studies written over a span of forty years prior to his retirement from Brandeis University in 2019. They reflect several themes that he has pursued in addition to his work on witchcraft literature and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Part 1 includes general articles on Mesopotamian magic, religion, and mythology, followed by a set of articles on Akkadian prayers, especially šuillas, focusing on exegetical and linguistic (synchronic) studies and on diachronic analyses. Part 2 contains a series of literary studies of Mesopotamian and biblical classics. Part 3 is devoted to comparative studies of terms and phenomena. Part 4 examines legal texts.

The Harvard Semitic Studies series publishes volumes from the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East. Other series offered by Brill that publish volumes from the Museum include Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant and Harvard Semitic Monographs, https://hmane.harvard.edu/publications.
Author: Tzvi Abusch
Among the most important sources for understanding the cultures, religions, and systems of thought of ancient Mesopotamia is the large corpus of magical and medical texts directed against witchcraft. The most important of these texts is the Akkadian series Maqlû (“Burning”).

This volume offers a collection of studies on Mesopotamian witchcraft and Maqlû written subsequent to the appearance of the author’s 2002 collection of studies on witchcraft (Brill, 2002). Many of the studies reprinted here take a diachronic approach to individual incantations and rituals and attempt to solve textual difficulties using literary-critical and/or text-critical approaches.
Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics
In Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature: Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics, Abraham Winitzer provides a detailed study of the Akkadian Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1600 BC) omen collections stemming from extispicy, the most significant Mesopotamian divination technique for most of that civilization’s history. Paying close attention to these texts’ organizational structure, Winitzer details the mechanics responsible for their origins and development, and highlights key characteristics of a conceptual framework that helped reconfigure Mesopotamian divination into a literature in line with significant, new forms of literary expression from the same time. This literature, Winitzer concludes, represents an early form of scientific reasoning that began to appreciate the centrality of texts and textual interpretation in this civilization’s production, organization, and conception of knowledge.
Among the most important sources for understanding the cultures and systems of thought of ancient Mesopotamia is a large body of magical and medical texts written in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages. An especially significant branch of this literature centres upon witchcraft. Mesopotamian anti-witchcraft rituals and incantations attribute ill-health and misfortune to the magic machinations of witches and prescribe ceremonies, devices, and treatments for dispelling witchcraft, destroying the witch, and protecting and curing the patient. The Corpus of Mesopotamian Anti-Witchcraft Rituals aims to present a reconstruction of this body of texts; it provides critical editions of the relevant rituals and prescriptions based on the study of the cuneiform tablets and fragments recovered from the libraries of ancient Mesopotamia.

"Now that we have the second volume, we the more admire the thoughtful organisation of the entire project, the strict methods followed, and the insightful observations and decisions made." - Martin Stol, in: Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXIV n° 3-4 (mei-augustus 2017)
Author: Erin Evans
Despite the surge of interest in Gnostic texts following the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, the Coptic Books of Jeu and Pistis Sophia remain understudied. Often dismissed as convoluted, confused, and repetitious, Erin Evans convincingly shows that these texts represent the writings of a distinct religious group with a consistent system of theology, cosmology, and ritual practice. This book offers an in-depth examination of these texts, their relationship to other contemporary Gnostic ideas, and their use in the context of a practicing religious group. Three thematic sections demonstrate how the collection of texts functions as a whole, covering baptisms and mystical ascent procedures, guides to moral living, and introductory texts and myths.
The Diviners of Late Bronze Age Emar and their Tablet Collection
Author: Matthew Rutz
In Bodies of Knowledge in Ancient Mesopotamia Matthew Rutz explores the relationship between ancient collections of texts, commonly deemed libraries and archives, and the modern interpretation of titles like ‘diviner’. By looking at cuneiform tablets as artifacts with archaeological contexts, this work probes the modern analytical categories used to study ancient diviners and investigates the transmission of Babylonian/Assyrian scholarship in Syria. During the Late Bronze Age diviners acted as high-ranking scribes and cultic functionaries in Emar, a town on the Syrian Euphrates (ca. 1375-1175 BCE). This book’s centerpiece is an extensive analytical catalogue of the excavated tablet collection of one family of diviners. Over seventy-five fragments are identified for the first time, along with many proposed joins between fragments.