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Joseph E. Sanzo

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.

Series:

Jacco Dieleman

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.

Series:

Andrew T. Wilburn

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.

Series:

Véronique Dasen and Árpád M. Nagy

Abstract

This chapter surveys ‘magical gems’: semi-precious stones inscribed during the Roman period that concentrate the power of stone, color, jewelry, and performative words, images, and signs. These materials are discusses in three contexts: formal characteristics (text, images, and signs), structural characteristics (material, engraving, and shape), and function (amulets, gems, jewels, and seals). The chapter also analyses these gems as manifestations of both ancient tradition and a new technology. Finally, the re-use of ancient gems after Antiquity and the history of publication of major corpora of gems are addressed.

Series:

Jacco Dieleman

Abstract

This chapter explores the texts known as the “Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri” as manifestations of Greco-Egyptian private ritual arising from scribal culture in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt. The chapter focuses on the ritual papyri themselves, providing a historical survey of major editions of ritual papyri. The second half of the chapter gives an overview of the various types of rituals contained within these manuals, with goals such as: knowledge, control, protection, and healing. The chapter concludes with observations on the historical transformations of Egyptian ritual papyri and the combination of Egyptian materials with Greco-Egyptian idioms.

Series:

Fritz Graf

Abstract

This chapter explores the term mágos and its cognates – and to what degree such terms signified “ambiguous or unsanctioned ritual.” Before the end of the 4th century BCE mágos and mágeia shifted from mostly ambiguous terms for itinerant religious entrepreneurs to designations with either positive philosophical or negative moral connotations. But a wider array of terms applied to religious specialists in ancient Greece, including mantis, agúrtēs, and góēs, associated with three forms of ambiguous rituals: thusiai, epōidē, and pharmaka. The transformation of these categories that began in the 4th century BCE continued with the outlawing of these rituals in Christian imperial laws.

Series:

David Frankfurter

Abstract

This chapter justifies the etic (theoretical) parameters of emic (indigenous/textual) discourses of ambiguous, unsanctioned, or illegitimate ritual before discussing comparatively the various preoccupations of such discourses in the ancient world, as analyzed in Part 2.

Series:

Volume-editor David Frankfurter

Series:

David Frankfurter

Abstract

Justifies uses of the term “magic” that do not serve as an exclusive classification but as a quality of language, materials, or social phenomena. The following essays in Part 4 serve as examples or experiments in this use of “magic.”