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In many near eastern traditions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, demons have appeared as a cause of illness from ancient times until at least the early modern period. This volume explores the relationship between demons, illness and treatment comparatively. Its twenty chapters range from Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt to early modern Europe, and include studies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They discuss the relationship between ‘demonic’ illnesses and wider ideas about illness, medicine, magic, and the supernatural. A further theme of the volume is the value of treating a wide variety of periods and places, using a comparative approach, and this is highlighted particularly in the volume’s Introduction and Afterword. The chapters originated in an international conference held in 2013.

"Ultimately, Demons and Illness admirably performs the important task of reminding modern scholars of premodern health of the integral role played by these complex and shifting entities in the lives of people across the globe and through the centuries." - Rachel Podd, Fordham University, in: Social History of Medicine 32.3 (2019)
This study constitutes the first comprehensive examination of rabbinic body language represented in Palestinian rabbinic sources of late antiquity. Catherine Hezser examines rabbis’ appearance and demeanor, spatial movement, gestures, and facial expressions on the basis of literary and social-anthropological methods and theories. She discusses the various forms of rabbis’ non-verbal communication in the context of Graeco-Roman and ancient Christian literary sources and in connection with the material culture of Roman and early Byzantine Palestine. Catherine Hezser convincingly shows that in rabbinic literature body language serves as an important means of rabbis’ self-fashioning. Rabbinic texts create the image of a particularly Jewish type of intellectual who functioned and competed for adherents within the highly visual and body-conscious environment of late antiquity.
Jews and Christians under the Roman Empire shared a unique sense of community. Set apart from their civic and cultic surroundings, both groups resisted complete assimilation into the dominant political and social structures. However, Jewish communities differed from their Christian counterparts in their overall patterns of response to the surrounding challenges. They exhibit diverse levels of integration into the civic fabric of the cities of the Empire and display contrary attitudes towards the creation of trans-local communal networks. The variety of local case studies examined in this volume offers an integrated image of the multiple factors, both internal and external, which determined the role of communal identity in creating a sense of belonging among Jews and Christians under Imperial constraints.