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In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
In: Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis
Author: Gregory Shaw

Abstract

This commentary reflects on Radcliffe Edmonds’ remarkable Ancient Magic, Theurgy, and Philosophy, focusing specifically on his study of the interface between theurgy and magic in late antiquity. Edmonds explores the striking similarities of theurgy and magic. After demonstrating a keen understanding of how theurgy worked for Iamblichus and the later Platonists, he compares its metaphysics and theory to the magical papyri. Although magicians were far less “theoretically inclined” than Platonic theurgists, Edmonds argues that they implement theurgical principles in their practices. He finds remarkable parallels and makes a strong case, but I argue that in one significant respect the magician and theurgist were profoundly different, a difference defined by the fact that Platonists like Iamblichus had passed through the withering catharsis of Platonic mystagogy, something that was not required or evident among magicians.

In: Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies