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  • Ancient Near East and Egypt x
  • Religion in Antiquity x

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Tzvi Abusch

Among the most important sources for understanding the cultures, religions, and systems of thought of ancient Mesopotamia is the large corpus of magical and medical texts directed against witchcraft. The most important of these texts is the Akkadian series Maqlû (“Burning”).

This volume offers a collection of studies on Mesopotamian witchcraft and Maqlû written subsequent to the appearance of the author’s 2002 collection of studies on witchcraft (Brill, 2002). Many of the studies reprinted here take a diachronic approach to individual incantations and rituals and attempt to solve textual difficulties using literary-critical and/or text-critical approaches.

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Laurent Bricault

In Isis Pelagia: Images, Names and Cults of a Goddess of the Seas, Laurent Bricault, one of the principal scholars of the cults of Isis, presents a new interpretation of the multiple sources that present Isis as a goddess of the seas. Bricault discusses a wealth of relatively unknown archaeological and textual data, drawing on a profound knowledge of their historical context.

After decades of scholarly study, Bricault offers an important contribution and a new phase in the debate on understanding the “diffusion” as well as the “reception” of the cults of Isis in the Graeco-Roman world. This book, the first English-language monograph by the leading French scholar in the field, underlines the importance of Isis Studies for broader debates in the study of ancient religion.

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Jonathan E Soyars

In The Shepherd of Hermas and the Pauline Legacy, Jonathan E. Soyars traces the influence of Pauline literary traditions upon one of the most widely attested and influential apocalyptic texts from early Christianity. Scholarship largely considers Hermas to have known very little about Pauline letters, but by looking beyond verbatim quotations Soyars discovers extensive evidence of his adoption, adaptation, and synthesis of identifiable Pauline material in the Visions, Mandates, and Similitudes sections. Hermas emerges as a Pauline interpreter who creatively engages topics and themes developed within and across the Pauline letters through time. These results reconnect the Shepherd with early Paulinism and extend reconstructions of the sphere of Pauline influence in the second century C.E.

The Tradition of Hermes Trismegistus

The Egyptian Priestly Figure as a Teacher of Hellenized Wisdom

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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.

The Chapters of the Wisdom of My Lord Mani

Part III: Pages 343-442 (Chapters 321-347)

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Iain Gardner, Jason D. Beduhn and Paul Dilley

The Chapters of the Wisdom of My Lord Mani, a Coptic papyrus codex preserved at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, describes Mani’s mission, teachings and debates with sages in the courts of the Sasanian empire during the reign of Shapur I; with an extended account of his last days and death under Bahram I. The text offers an unprecedented new source for the history of religions in Late Antiquity, including interactions of Manichaean, Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist traditions in Iran, remarkably transmitted into the Mediterranean world as part of Manichaean missionary literature. This is the first of four fascicles constituting the editio princeps, based on enhanced digital and multispectral imaging and extended autoptic study of the manuscript.

Sources of Evil

Studies in Mesopotamian Exorcistic Lore

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Edited by Greta Van Buylaere, Mikko Luukko, Daniel Schwemer and Avigail Mertens-Wagschal

Sources of Evil: Studies in Mesopotamian Exorcistic Lore is a collection of thirteen essays on the body of knowledge employed by ancient Near Eastern healing experts, most prominently the ‘exorcist’ and the ‘physician’, to help patients who were suffering from misfortunes caused by divine anger, transgressions of taboos, demons, witches, or other sources of evil. The volume provides new insights into the two most important catalogues of Mesopotamian therapeutic lore, the Exorcist’s Manual and the Aššur Medical Catalogue, and contains discussions of agents of evil and causes of illness, ways of repelling evil and treating patients, the interpretation of natural phenomena in the context of exorcistic lore, and a description of the symbolic cosmos with its divine and demonic inhabitants.

"The Scaffolding of Our Thoughts"

Essays on Assyriology and the History of Science in Honor of Francesca Rochberg

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Edited by C. Jay Crisostomo, Eduardo A. Escobar, Terri Tanaka and Niek Veldhuis

Francesca Rochberg has for more than thirty-five years been a leading figure in the study of ancient science. Her foundational insights on the concepts of “science,” “canon,” “celestial divination,” “knowledge,” “gods,” and “nature” in cuneiform cultures have demanded continual contemplation on the tenets and assumptions that underlie the fields of Assyriology and the History of Science.

“The Scaffolding of Our Thoughts” honors this luminary with twenty essays, each reflecting on aspects of her work. Following an initial appraisal of ancient “science” by Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, the contributions in the first half explore practices of knowledge in Assyriological sources. The second half of the volume focuses specifically on astronomical and astrological spheres of knowledge in the Ancient Mediterranean.

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Julia Krul

In The Revival of the Anu Cult and the Nocturnal Fire Ceremony at Late Babylonian Uruk, Julia Krul offers a comprehensive study of the rise of the sky god Anu as patron deity of Uruk in the Late Babylonian period (ca. 480-100 B.C.). She reconstructs the historical development of the Anu cult, its underlying theology, and its daily rites of worship, with a particular focus on the yearly nocturnal fire ceremony at the Anu temple, the Bīt Rēš.

Providing the first in-depth analysis of the ceremony, Julia Krul convincingly identifies it as a seasonal renewal festival with an important exorcistic component, but also as a reinforcement of local hierarchical relationships and the elite status of the Anu priesthood.

Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature

Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics

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Abraham Winitzer

In Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature: Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics, Abraham Winitzer provides a detailed study of the Akkadian Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1600 BC) omen collections stemming from extispicy, the most significant Mesopotamian divination technique for most of that civilization’s history. Paying close attention to these texts’ organizational structure, Winitzer details the mechanics responsible for their origins and development, and highlights key characteristics of a conceptual framework that helped reconfigure Mesopotamian divination into a literature in line with significant, new forms of literary expression from the same time. This literature, Winitzer concludes, represents an early form of scientific reasoning that began to appreciate the centrality of texts and textual interpretation in this civilization’s production, organization, and conception of knowledge.

The Metaphor of the Divine as Planter of the People

Stinking Grapes or Pleasant Planting?

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Jennifer Metten Pantoja

In The Metaphor of the Divine as Planter of the People Jennifer Metten Pantoja traces the emergence of the conceptual metaphor YHWH IS THE PLANTER OF THE PEOPLE in ancient Hebrew poetry and follows its development throughout biblical history and Second Temple literature, in order to illustrate how the deep connection to the land shaped ancient thought and belief. Within this broader, primary metaphor, the complex metaphor YHWH IS THE VINTNER OF ISRAEL is also analyzed as an image predominant in the pre-exilic prophetic literature. Recent advances in cognitive linguistics, coupled with traditional historical-critical methods, as well as a survey of the material culture, work in tandem to illuminate one snapshot of ancient Israel’s conception of the divine.