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Envisioning Magic

A Princeton Seminar and Symposium

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Edited by Peter Schäfer and Hans Kippenberg

This collection of twelve articles presents a selection of papers delivered in the course of a seminar 1994-95 and its concluding international symposium at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. The common theme is the interrelation between magic and religion, focussing particularly on the Mediterranean world in Antiquity - Egyptian, Graeco-Roman and Jewish beliefs and customs - but also treating the early modern period in Northern Europe (the Netherlands and Germany) as well as offering more general reflections on elements of magic in language and Jewish mysticism. The volume is characterized by an interdisciplinary approach and the use of varied methodologies, emphasizing the dynamic nature of the often contradictory forces shaping religious beliefs and practices, while dismissing the idea of a linear development from magic to religion or vice versa. The contributors are outstanding scholars in their fields: Ancient, Medieval and Modern History, Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, Classical Studies, Early Christianity, Islamic Studies, Anthropology, Egyptology and Comparative Literature. Without a doubt this re-evaluation of a fascinating age-old subject will stimulate scholarly discussion and appeal to educated non-specialist readers as well.

Where Dreams May Come (2 vol. set)

Incubation Sanctuaries in the Greco-Roman World

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Gil Renberg

Where Dreams May Come was the winner of the 2018 Charles J . Goodwin Award of Merit, awarded by the Society for Classical Studies.

In this book, Gil H. Renberg examines the ancient religious phenomenon of “incubation", the ritual of sleeping at a divinity’s sanctuary in order to obtain a prophetic or therapeutic dream. Most prominently associated with the Panhellenic healing god Asklepios, incubation was also practiced at the cult sites of numerous other divinities throughout the Greek world, but it is first known from ancient Near Eastern sources and was established in Pharaonic Egypt by the time of the Macedonian conquest; later, Christian worship came to include similar practices. Renberg’s exhaustive study represents the first attempt to collect and analyze the evidence for incubation from Sumerian to Byzantine and Merovingian times, thus making an important contribution to religious history.

This set consists of two books.

Worlds Full of Signs

Ancient Greek Divination in Context

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Kim Beerden

Worlds Full of Signs compares Greek divination to divinatory practices in Neo-Assyrian Mesopotamia and Republican Rome. It argues that the character of Greek divination differed fundamentally from that of the two comparanda. Ample attention is given to background and method at first. Subsequent chapters discuss the divinatory elements – sign, homo divinans, and text, relating divination to time and uncertainty. This book brings together sources originating from various times and places, questioning these to consider both generalities of ancient divination and specifics of Greek divination. Greek divination was inherently flexible on many levels: these findings should be connected to Greek views on time and the future as well as the relatively low level of divinatory institutionalization.

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Edited by Koert van Bekkum, Jaap Dekker, Henk R. van den Kamp and Eric Peels

Since ancient times Leviathan and other monsters from the biblical world symbolize the life-threatening powers in nature and history. They represent the dark aspects of human nature and political entities and reveal the supernatural dimensions of evil. Ancient texts and pictures regarding these monsters reflect an environment of polytheism and religious pluralism. Remarkably, however, the biblical writings and post-biblical traditions use these venerated symbols in portraying God as being sovereign over the entire universe, a theme that is also prominent in the reception of these texts in subsequent contexts.
This volume explores this tension and elucidates the theological and cultural meaning of ‘Leviathan’ by studying its ancient Near Eastern background and its attestation in biblical texts, early and rabbinic Judaism, Christian theology, Early Modern art, and film.