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Prayer in the Ancient World (PAW) is an innovative resource on prayer in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. The over 350 entries in PAW showcase a robust selection of the range of different types of prayers attested from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia, the Levant, early Judaism and Christianity, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and Iran, enhanced by critical commentary.
The project illustrates the variety of ways human beings have sought to communicate with or influence beings with extraordinary superhuman power for millennia. By including diverse examples such as vows and oaths, blessings, curses, incantations, graffiti, iconography, and more, PAW casts a wide net. In so doing, PAW privileges no particular tradition or conception of how to interact with the divine; for example, the project refuses to perpetuate a value distinction between “prayer,” “magic,” and “cursing.”

Detailed overviews introduce each area and address key issues such as language and terminology, geographical distribution, materiality, orality, phenomenology of prayer, prayer and magic, blessings and curses, and ritual settings and ritual actors. In order to be as comprehensive as practically possible, the volume includes a representative prayer of every attested type from each tradition.

Individual entries include a wealth of information. Each begins with a list of essential details, including the source, region, date, occasion, type and function, performers, and materiality of the prayer. Next, after a concise summary and a brief synopsis of the main textual witnesses, a formal description calls attention to the exemplar’s literary and stylistic features, rhetorical structure, important motifs, and terminology. The occasions when the prayer was used and its function are analyzed, followed by a discussion of how this exemplar fits within the range of variation of this type of prayer practice, both synchronically and diachronically. Important features of the prayer relevant for cross-cultural comparison are foregrounded in the subsequent section. Following an up-to-date translation, a concise yet detailed commentary provides explanations necessary for understanding the prayer and its function. Finally, each entry concludes with a bibliography of essential primary and secondary resources for further study.
Volume Editors: and
The Song of Songs is the only book of the Bible to privilege the voice of a woman, and its poetry of love and eroticism also bears witness to violence. How do the contemporary #MeToo movement and other movements of protest and accountability renew questions about women, gender, sex, and the problematic of the public at the heart of this ancient poetry? This edited volume prominently features women scholars and seeks to reinvigorate feminist scholarship on the Song by exploring diverse contexts of reading, from Akkadian love lyrics, to Hildegard of Bingen, to Marc Chagall.
A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation with an Introduction
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Cyril ibn Laqlaq’s Book of Confession offers the critical edition and translation of a treatise that is published here for the first time. Cyril, the 75th Coptic Patriarch, was a controversial figure who was judged for simony by his own bishops in an official synod. Despite his failure to promote auricular confession during his lifetime, the widespread distribution of his treatise had a significant impact on the practice's adoption. The Book of Confession is well attested in the manuscript tradition. The vast inventory of manuscripts attests to its popularity among diverse Christian denominations throughout the Middle East. Undoubtedly, it has been a highly influential text in the formation of spiritual life and penitential theology in the Middle Ages.
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This book explores the way that the Torah was appreciated and interpreted as a text and symbol in Christian and Jewish sources from the Second Temple period through the Middle Ages. It tracks the development and complex interactions of three images of Torah— “God-like,” “Angelic,” and “Messianic”— which are found in late-antique Jewish and Christian materials as well as in medieval kabbalistic and Jewish philosophic sources. It provides a unique template for tracing the development of theological ideas related to the images of Torah and offers a sophisticated and innovative analysis of the relationship between mystical experience, theology, and phenomenology.
Manichaeism in Greek anti-Manichaica & Roman Imperial Legislation
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The Manichaeans of the Roman East is the first monograph that synthesizes an enormous body of primary material to reconstruct the history of East-Roman Manichaeans, from the time their first missionaries arrived in the territory of the Roman East until the disappearance of Manichaeism from the Eastern Roman Empire. Through her systematically comparative and intertextual investigation of the sources, Matsangou provides a number of original approaches to issues such as the classification of Manichaeism, the socio-religious profile and lifestyle of East Roman Manichaeans, the triggers of the severe anti-Manichaean persecutions. She thoroughly analyses the relationship between Manichaean and Christian ascetics for the first time, suggesting a possible Manichaean impact on the rise of ascetic manifestations among Christian ascetics, monks, and individuals in society. By considering the dimensions of the phenomenon of crypto-Manichaeism and using the concept of “entryism”—borrowed from politics—as a theoretical model, Matsangou makes intriguing hypotheses suggesting an alternative explanation for the disappearance of Manichaeism from the Roman East.
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The Hellenistic period was a pivotal moment in the history of the Jewish priesthood. The waning days of the Persian empire coincided with the continued ascendance of the high priest and Jerusalem temple as powerful political, cultural, and religious institutions in Judea. The Aramaic Scrolls from Qumran, only recently published in full, testify to the existence of a flourishing but previously unknown Jewish literary tradition dating from the end of Persian rule to the rise of the Hasmoneans. Throughout this book, Robert Jones analyzes how Israel’s priestly institutions are represented in these writings, and he demonstrates that they are essential for understanding the Jewish priesthood at this crucial stage in its history.