Browse results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 33 items for :

  • New Testament & Early Christian Writings x
  • Greek & Latin Literature x
  • Early Church & Patristics x
  • Search level: All x
Clear All
Author:

Abstract

This chapter looks chronologically at a range of terms and ritual practices deemed acceptable for insiders but condemnable if performed by outsiders, from ancient Israel through Talmudic times. Various texts in the Hebrew Bible recognize the effectiveness of foreign ritual agents (mekhashef) performing prophetic signs (ʼot). Second Temple Jewish writings attribute illegitimate ritual practices to otherworldly or demonic sources, mediated by women. Finally, rabbinic literature proscribed illegitimate (kishuf) ritual in its stories, laws, and practical information, often identifying such practices with women and outsiders.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic

Abstract

This introductory essay attributes the preoccupation with defining magic in the study of ancient religions to Morton Smith’s provocative Jesus the Magician (1978). It proceeds to argue that truly “insiders’” (emic) approaches cannot use the word “magic”; that the materials we use to characterize “magic” (like the PGM) must be examined for how they arise and function historically, not as illustrations of our own fantasies; and that uses of mageia, khesheph, and so on tend to fall into broad discursive patterns (reflected in Part 3). Still, there may be ways that “magic” can be used to discuss ancient ritual practices and materials.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
Author:

Abstract

This chapter covers the body of binding spells or defixiones dating from the 6th century BCE to the 8th century CE. It provides an overview of the major published collections of defixiones and discussions of six exemplary defixiones, as well as the significance of lead, the most common medium for defixiones. The chapter examines verbal and mythological characteristics of defixiones, such as simila similibus and committal formulae and invocations of the dead. Binding spells, it is argued, were never the exclusive province of expert scribes.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic

Abstract

Looks at the material evidence for ritual practices involved in the buildings of the ancient Mediterranean. Utilizing literary and archaeological evidence, it analyzes each component of construction from the preparations of a site and its foundation to floors, walls, doors, and roofs. Apotropaic materials are most vitally connected to buildings, but one also finds evidence of aggressive ritual devices seeking to do harm. Acts of ritual protection are also involved in the transformation of buildings -- to cleanse and purify spaces.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic

Abstract

This chapter examines Coptic ritual texts, the history of their study, and the mechanics of the rituals themselves. Closely reviewing over a dozen texts, the chapter analyzes their “marked” character – their difference from everyday speech and writing – and the textual strategies that are used to achieve specific ritual goals. The chapter concludes by noting the critical questions that this corpus presents, from the diversity of the rituals themselves to the burden of magic/religion dichotomies.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
Author:

Abstract

This chapter explores the literature of the nascent Jesus movements and emergent Christianity with its varying attitudes toward illegitimate ritual, in particular with such terms as magos, pharmakeia, manteuomai, and perierga. The chapter looks first at Christian narrative depictions of illegitimate ritual, followed by sin-lists that include references to illegitimate ritual practices, canon lists, and imperial legislation. Finally, the chapter turns to “discursive contexts” that framed the illegitimacy of certain ritual practices in terms of the demonic.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
Author:

Abstract

This chapter discusses ritual in pharaonic Egypt, focusing on attempts to mobilize the primordial, natural force of heka to intervene in worldly affairs. It gives examples of the positive use of heka both through rituals of the king, who performed rituals to preserve the Egyptian state and society, and through temple priests who conducted similar rituals aimed at protecting households or individuals. Then it turns to hostile uses of heka such as curses and the “heka-workers” who performed these rituals. Throughout its analysis, this chapter also reflects on the reasons behind these rituals, recognizing that whether uses of heka were for benevolent or malign purposes, the ultimate force involved remained the same.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic

Abstract

Discusses the use of images – statuary, figurines, paintings, and so on -- in a variety of ritual practices in the Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean worlds. The chapter surveys uses of images chronologically to show several themes: images used to “force” a god to accomplish something; images meant simply to receive or witnessing the performance of a ritual; and the nature and function of iconographic representation itself. The essential ritual function of images in ancient ritual offer an important context for uses of figurines and statuary in more private ritual contexts.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic