Le devin historien en Mesopotamie is a combined study of divination and historiography. More than mere custodians of historical memory, diviners approached omens as written signs and developed a sophisticated semiology to recognize and order them. Diviners perceived omens as potentially rich in various meanings and cultivated an elaborate hermeneutic for working these out using hypothetical and inductive reasoning. Even if omens were removed from the recorded facts, diviners endowed them with a wide range of possibilities. Divination sought to establish links among historical, cosmic, and natural events because it investigated at once the past, present, and future. The first study of its kind since 1946, when only about 60 historical omens were known, this work presents 385 in a comprehensive edition.
Cultural Memory Reinterpreted
In The Arabic Life of Antony Attributed to Serapion of Thmuis, Elizabeth Agaiby demonstrates how the redacted Life of Antony, the “Father of all monks and star of the wilderness”, gained widespread acceptance within Egypt shortly after its composition in the 13th century and dominated Coptic liturgical texts on Antony for over 600 years – the influence of which is still felt up to the present day. By providing a first edition and translation, Agaiby demonstrates how the Arabic Life bears witness to the reinterpretation of the religious memory of Antony in the Coptic Orthodox Church.
The Egyptian Priestly Figure as a Teacher of Hellenized Wisdom
Christian H. Bull
In The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus, Christian H. Bull argues that the treatises attributed to Hermes Trismegistus reflect the spiritual exercises and ritual practices of loosely organized brotherhoods in Egypt. These small groups were directed by Egyptian priests educated in the traditional lore of the temples, but also conversant with Greek philosophy. Such priests, who were increasingly dispossessed with the gradual demise of the Egyptian temples, could find eager adherents among a Greek-speaking audience seeking for the wisdom of the Egyptian Hermes, who was widely considered to be an important source for the philosophies of Pythagoras and Plato. The volume contains a comprehensive analysis of the myths of Hermes Trismegistus, a reevaluation of the Way of Hermes, and a contextualization of this ritual tradition.