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In the midst of academic debates about the utility of the term “magic” and the cultural meaning of ancient words like mageia or khesheph, this Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic seeks to advance the discussion by separating out three topics essential to the very idea of magic. The three major sections of this volume address (1) indigenous terminologies for ambiguous or illicit ritual in antiquity; (2) the ancient texts, manuals, and artifacts commonly designated “magical” or used to represent ancient magic; and (3) a series of contexts, from the written word to materiality itself, to which the term “magic” might usefully pertain.

The individual essays in this volume cover most of Mediterranean and Near Eastern antiquity, with essays by both established and emergent scholars of ancient religions.

In a burgeoning field of “magic studies” trying both to preserve and to justify critically the category itself, this volume brings new clarity and provocative insights. This will be an indispensable resource to all interested in magic in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, ancient Greece and Rome, Early Christianity and Judaism, Egypt through the Christian period, and also comparative and critical theory.

Contributors are: Magali Bailliot, Gideon Bohak, Véronique Dasen, Albert de Jong, Jacco Dieleman, Esther Eidinow, David Frankfurter, Fritz Graf, Yuval Harari, Naomi Janowitz, Sarah Iles Johnston, Roy D. Kotansky, Arpad M. Nagy, Daniel Schwemer, Joseph E. Sanzo, Jacques van der Vliet, Andrew Wilburn.
This volume deals with the origins and rise of Christian pilgrimage cults in late antique Egypt. Part One covers the major theoretical issues in the study of Coptic pilgrimage, such as sacred landscape and shrines' catchment areas, while Part Two examines native Egyptian and Egyptian Jewish pilgrimage practices. Part Three investigates six major shrines, from Philae's diverse non-Christian devotees to the great pilgrim center of Abu Mina and a Thecla shrine on its route. Part Four looks at such diverse pilgrims' rites as oracles, chant, and stational liturgy, while Part Five brings in Athanasius's and an anonymous hagiographer's perspectives on pilgrimage in Egypt. The volume includes illustrations of the Abu Mina site, pilgrims' ampules from the Thecla shrine, as well as several maps.
In: Coping with Versnel: A Roundtable on Religion and Magic
In: Mantikê
In: Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World
In: Envisioning Magic
In: My Lots are in Thy Hands: Sortilege and its Practitioners in Late Antiquity


Scholars interested in the continuing vitality or decline of traditional religion in the late antique Mediterranean world often find themselves dependent on hagiographical texts, which inevitably depict traditional heathenism as a foil to their Christian heroes and thus cannot be used as simple documentation for historical realia. This paper proposes ways of drawing historical evidence for real, continuing local religion from hagiographical texts from late antique Egypt. After a discussion of the specific ways in which hagiography imposes literary and biblical themes on its representation of traditional religious practices, two points of authentic memory are presented: topographical traditions and traditions about expressive gesture. In contrast, the hagiographical image of the Egyptian priest, for example, carries little historical authenticity. A concluding section of the paper defends and outlines the use of anthropological models for the historical interpretation of hagiography.

In: Church History and Religious Culture
In: From Temple to Church