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Jeffers

Beginning with Deut. 18:9ff and its condemnation of magicians and diviners, this book explores the window that this text gives us into magic and divination in Ancient Palestine and Syria. Investigating the wealth of language combined with the archaeological and historical evidence, it seeks to place the influence of these factors in the emerging Israelite religion. An integral part of Ancient Near Eastern cosmology and culture, magic and divination are never completely eradicated despite the ideological warfare led by the Old Testament writers.
The first part examines the function of various magicians and diviners. This is followed by a chapter on dreams and visions. The third chapter looks at the techniques and devices used by the oracular practitioners. Other subjects covered include magic in warfare, in the treatment of diseases, and blessing and cursing.

Jacob Neusner

The systematic and orderly presentation of the Halakhah, normative law, of Rabbinic Judaism in its formative age makes its principal statements in response to a program of social reconstruction; it speaks through the details of norms of law about the community, Israel. Rabbinic Halakhah lays out a social philosophy of an coherent and encompassing character.

Part 1: Corporate Israel and the Individual Israelite

In the first part of the project, on Corporate Israel and the Individual Israelite we ask where and how the Halakhah sorts out the relationships of the individual and the community: the realm of responsible action and particular responsibility assigned by the Halakhah to each. Prophecy, from Moses forward, and the Halakhah from the Mishnah onward, concur that the condition of "all Israel" dictates the standing of each individual within Israel, and further concur that each Israelite bears responsibility for what he or she as a matter of deliberation and intention chooses to do. If individuals were conceived as automatons, always subordinated agencies of the community, or if the community were contemplated as merely the sum total of individual participants, a particular social teaching would hardly demand attention.
But Scripture, continued in the Mishnah, Tosefta, the two Talmuds, and Midrash, insists that Israelites are individual responsible for what they do, and further that corporate Israel on its own, not only as the sum of individual actions, forms a moral entity subject to judgment. So these are the governing questions: How to sort out these intersecting matters, then, the obligations of the community, the responsibilities of individuals? How does the social teaching of Rabbinic Judaism hold together doctrines of individual obligations to Heaven and mutual responsibilities, on the one side, with all Israel¹s commitments and public convictions, on the other?

Part 2: Between Israelites

Part 2 turns to relationships between Israelites, with particular attention to those that require resolving conflict. Once the law recognizes not only Israelites but the integrity of corporate Israel, how does it regulate relationships within the framework of that corporate community? By regulating relationships the sages will have understood, relationships of competition, contention, and conflict. Those of collaboration, consensus, and cooperation require no regulation on the part of constitutive law; they regulate themselves by their nature: people keep rules. Then at issue are where the corporate community intervenes to protect its interests in relationships between and among individual Israelites, and how it does so.
The exposition then follows the laws presentation of those relationships as integral to the larger system of Rabbinic Judaism and its plan for its Israel's public life, hence, once more, the focus on large constructions, category-formations that are integral to the main beams of the Halakhic system and structure.

Part 3: God's Presence in Israel

Part 3 raises the third and final question of the social order: God's role in society. For Rabbinic Judaism to be "Israel" means to live in God's kingdom, under God's rule, in a very particular way. That imperative addresses not individuals alone or mainly but, rather, corporate Israel, that is, the entire social order. It encompasses not merely feelings or attitudes but registers in the here of tangible transactions and in the now of workaday engagements, not only in some distant time. The generative question of this third and concluding part of the study of the social teaching of Rabbinic Judaism, is this: What, precisely, does God's active presence mean in the system of the social order put forth by the Halakhah?

Envisioning Magic

A Princeton Seminar and Symposium

Series:

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

Series:

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

Series:

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.

Series:

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.