By Gideon Bohak
Gideon Bohak offers a pioneering account of the huge heritage of historic Jewish magic, from the second one Temple to the rabbinic interval. it really is established either on historical magicians' personal compositions and items in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek, and at the descriptions and prescriptions of non-magicians, to reconstruct a historic photo that's as balanced and nuanced as attainable. the main target is at the cultural makeup of historic Jewish magic, and exact recognition is paid to the methods of cross-cultural contacts and borrowings among Jews and non-Jews, in addition to to inner-Jewish creativity. different significant matters explored contain where of magic inside Jewish society, modern Jewish attitudes to magic, and the identification of its practitioners. all through, the ebook seeks to provide an explanation for the methodological underpinnings of all sound learn during this hard box, and to focus on components the place extra learn is probably going to end up fruitful.
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Extra resources for Ancient Jewish Magic: A History
37 Apparently, the power of sacred objects extended even to such “anti-sacred” objects, which had to be consumed by their suspected producers as an effective ordeal, proving their guilt and punishing them at the same time. ah ritual may be the most striking example of the use of the innate powers of sacred objects and God’s priests for rituals which have little to do with the service of God and much to do with the service of men, but many other instances show that such powers were employed 36 37 For Babylonian parallels, see Fishbane 1971, pp.
30 Ancient Jewish magic in other contexts as well. 22–27). 39 This is, we may note, the only evidence we have of the Jewish use of written amulets in the First or Second Temple periods, an issue to which we shall return in Chapter 2. It is also the first attested use of the Priestly Blessing for magical and apotropaic purposes, a practice to which we shall return in Chapter 5. Thus far, we have limited our survey to the uses of the sacred in the biblical legislation, but when we turn from the legal sections to the more historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible, we find many more examples of the practical uses of the sacred, especially in times of war.
Several prominent anthropologists have tried to offer more charitable explanations of why “primitive” people practice their magic. Applying their insights to the study of ancient Jews, we may offer several different explanations of the extensive recourse to magic by these Jews, including some of their most prominent and intelligent thinkers. Delving into the numerous discussions of magic and rationality over the last century and a half, one finds many different lines of reasoning which might be adopted here, each with its own advantages and 63 64 65 66 Hippolytus, Ref.