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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.
The Dynamics of Mediation in the Biblical World and Old Babylonian Mari
Author:
In Prophet, Intermediary, King: The Dynamics of Mediation in the Biblical World and Old Babylonian Mari, Julie B. Deluty investigates the mediation of prophecy for kings in biblical narratives and the Old Babylonian corpus from Mari. In many cases, the prophet’s message is delivered through a third party—sometimes a royal official or family member—who may exercise a degree of autonomy in the transmission of the words. Drawing on social network theory, the book highlights the importance of third-party intermediaries in the process of communication that lies at the core of biblical and ancient Near Eastern prophecy. Recognition of the place of non-prophetic intermediaries in a monarchic system offers a new dimension to the study of prophecy in antiquity.
What holds a society together, what makes it dissolve, and how is a society in crisis restored? These are the questions explored in this study, which brings the Serek ha-Yahad (IQS) into dialogue with mimetic theory. It thus aims to shed light on the forms of life and thought in the yahad, as well as on their underlying reason and purpose.
From the analysis emerges an image of a community that not only has a strong awareness of the mechanisms of violence, but also of its cure. Its hierarchical organization and strict regulations are motivated by a perceived dissolution of contemporary society. By subordinating personal desire to community discipline and by establishing a system of differentiation, the yahad seeks to provide a model of how a society ought to be functioning.
Strategies and Practices in Ancient Mesopotamia
Volume Editors: and
As magic is a powerful means to influence the natural world and human beings, and is deeply connected to the divine sphere, persons using it are in constant need to justify its use. The ambivalence of magic to serve both well-wishing and ill-wishing aims puts the practitioners ever at risk. This volume illuminates the strategies adopted to legitimise the practice of magic and analyses how these justifications are phrased and formulated in cuneiform texts, thereby revealing the underlying principles and unexplained axioms of using magic in the Ancient Near East.
Volume Editor:
This book spins around the convening idea of variability to offer fourteen new views into the Pyramid and Coffin Texts and related materials that overarch archaeology, philology, linguistics, writing studies, religious studies and social history by applying innovative approaches such as agency, politeness, material philology and object-based studies, and under a strong empirical focus. In this book, you will find from a previously unpublished coffin or a reinterpretation of the so-called ‘Letters to the Dead’ to graffiti’s interaction with monumental inscriptions, ‘subatomic’ studies in the spellings of the Osiris’ name or the puzzles of text transmission, among other novel topics.
Hermeneutic Foundations of aš-Šāṭibī's Ethical Philosophy
Virtue and the Common Good: Hermeneutic Foundations of aš-Šāṭibī's Ethical Philosophy arose as a response to the urgent need for epistemological research on the hermeneutic foundations of Islamic ethical and moral theory that has resulted from the current period of upheaval in Islamic theology. Choosing a late-medieval work of legal theory, namely, Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Mūsā aš-Šāṭibī's (d. 790/1388) al-Muwāfaqāt, as the point of departure, locates this study's discussion methodologically and theoretically in the genealogical process of re-reading and reconstructing Islamic thinking in modernity from the perspectives of contemporary philosophy of ethics. Thus, profoundly reflecting on modern understanding and interpretation of fundamental theological concepts in the Islamic legal- and moral theory becomes unavoidable.
This book focuses on the crucial role of teaching in the process of tradition. The various essays present case studies, written by specialists in the field, on themes drawn from the biblical, Jewish and Christian practice of ‘tradition’, the passing on of faith from generation to generation. Underlying these essays is the conviction that teaching is a privileged context for the study of tradition, since it always both preserves and renews tradition. There is no tradition without teaching, in which the past is interpreted in the present and the present is seen in the light of the past.

Contributors are: Jan Bouwens, Rob V.J. Faesen, Leon Mock, Jos Moons, Krijn Pansters, Henk J. M. Schoot, Rudi A. te Velde, Archibald L. H. M. van Wieringen, and Ruben J. van Wingerden.
In The Divine/Demonic Seven and the Place of Demons in Mesopotamia, Gina Konstantopoulos analyses the Sebettu, a group of seven divine/demonic figures found across a wide range of Mesopotamian textual and artistic sources in Mesopotamia from the late third to first millennium BCE.

The Sebettu appeared both as fierce, threatening demons and as divine, protective, figures. These seemingly contradictory qualities worked together, as their martial ferocity facilitated their religious and political role. When used in royal inscriptions, they became fierce warriors attacking the king’s enemies, retaining that demonic nature. This flexibility was not unique to the Sebettu, and this study thus provides a lens through which to examine the place of demons in Mesopotamia as a whole.