Envisioning Magic

A Princeton Seminar and Symposium


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.

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Peter Schäfer, Dr.phil. (1968) in Jewish Studies, Habilitation 1973, is Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Institut für Judaistik at the Freie Universität Berlin. He has published extensively on Jewish literature and history in late antiquity and on early Jewish mysticism. His most recent book is Judeophobia. Attitudes toward the Jews in the Ancient World, ( Harvard University Press, 1997).
Hans G. Kippenberg, Dr. phil., University of Göttingen, secured his habilitation at the Freie Universität Berlin, held the chair for Comparative religion at the University of Groningen from 1977 to 1989, and currently holds the chair at Bremen. He is the editor of Numen (Brill).
Those interested in the history of religions, the history of magic, intellectual history and church history.