Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History)


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Rather, the aim of such scholarship is to determine the meaning and significance of terminology, practices, and concepts that are evident in the textual and ethnographic record. The difference separating this more recent approach from that of earlier scholars like Mauss and Malinowski is remarkable not so much for its theoretical insights as for its methodology.

These essays thus attempt to uncover the explanation of particulars ensconced in specific cultural contexts. It is this background, then, coupled with our desire to make accessible the most recent scholarly advances in the study of ancient magic, that informs the thirteen essays in this volume. Like the conference that preceded it, Prayer, Magic, and the Stars deliberately collapses conventional disciplinary boundaries in its definition of the ancient and late antique world. Contributors to the volume include scholars from the fields of Assyriology, Egyptology, Classics, Jewish Studies, Early Christianity, Late Antiquity, and Early Islam; in geographical range, the essays cover material originating from at least eleven modern nations, stretching from western Iran to the central Mediterranean.

What unites the essays is a common interest in methods of communication with the divine—various forms of divination, exegesis, or rituals used to interpret, invoke, or obstruct the superhuman power s of the cosmos. This fundamental aspect of ancient religion has only recently begun to receive the attention it deserves, particularly in the fields of Classical Studies and Late Antiquity.

Prayer Magic and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World

Yet even in Assyriology, and in Egyptology too, there is a need for more research. By investigating the role of the heavenly bodies in both public and private religions, across time, and throughout the ancient Near East and Mediterranean worlds, the essays in this volume reveal both shared cross-cultural assumptions about the divine power of the celestial bodies and striking differences in how humankind read and appealed to those divine powers.

This background and our goals also inform the organization of this book, which consists of four parts. Smith, one of the most prominent theorists in the comparative study of religion. Here Smith builds upon his earlier work by advancing a new typology for the study of religion in the ancient world and late antiquity. The final essay of the section, Michael G. In particular, she reveals how nonroyal figures gradually gained hitherto restricted access to the gods by way of ritual dreaming.

Moreover, she demonstrates how this shift from royal to nonroyal access may have been influenced by political and cultural changes affecting the Egyptian empire in the aftermath of foreign invasions. Using evidence from Plato and the Hippocratic treatise On Regimen, Struck brings together the emphatically corporeal and the emphatically incorporeal regions of human existence. In particular, Struck investigates the tendency in ancient thought to link the viscera and the divine as reflected in many different forms of divination, even in what may seem to be the least corporeal of the divinatory arts, the practice of reading dreams.

Original Magic-The Powerful Magic Method of Zoroaster

As Dieleman shows, the terminology and procedures of this ritual reveal a complex and lively dialogue between tradition and innovation in late. Egyptian religion. Michael D. To demonstrate his argument, Swartz focuses on books of lot divination goralot whose worldview assumes that every detail of our environment has meaning and whose authors seek to reassure their readers of the sanctity of this hermeneutic.

As he shows, these books register ambivalent attitudes toward divination by some rabbis in late antiquity and represent a well-established pattern common to many Jewish magic rituals in presenting their divinatory system as a substitute for the loss of specific Temple rituals. Rochberg also shows how the orderliness of the Mesopotamian cosmos hinged on the maintenance of reciprocal relations between heaven and earth.

Thus, rulers, who needed to maintain order over their subjects on earth, had to observe through divination the omens in the heavens and to respond with the appropriate rituals to ward off the evil portended by some omens. As Rochberg illustrates, implicit in the practice of these rituals is the possibility that some procedure could persuade the gods to prevent the occurrence of the predicted event.

Mark S. As Smith demonstrates, for much of their history the people of Ugarit imagined their divine pantheon as a heavenly version of the royal patriarchal household, but with strong connections to specific celestial bodies. Smith uses this model of change as an analogy to elucidate the emergence of Yahweh as the Israelite god and the subsequent eclipse of astral religion in Israel. Thus, Smith provides a strong framework for understanding the Israelite conceptualization of Yahweh and his celestial associations.

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Review of Rüdiger Schmitt, Magie im Alten Testament

Waddell, trans. Ray "Pharaoh Nechepso," JEA 60 []: has sug- gested that Nechepso is identical wirh that person found in an Egyptian inscription interprets x W. Flinders Petrie as reading Ny-ki. Trigger et ah, eds. A crucial study in this regard is Richard A. In the passage from Alexandria to Thebes, Thes- salos's narrative invokes a geography of cultural authenticity. Upper Egypt was many respects "more Egyptian" than the delta and Fayyum regions, which had :n more thoroughly penetrated by Greek settlers in the Ptolemaic period.

Stud- es of ethnicity in Ptolemaic Egypt have detected a general tendency toward adopt- ing Egyptian names and language among Greek settlers in the predominantly Egyp- tian milieu of Upper Egypt. The Anastasi pa- yn, which constitute the bulk of the ritual materials known as the Greek and emotic magical papyri, are Theban in origin. Brill, See Eric G. Turner, "Ptoie- ridee' Camh v!

Thompson, "Egypt, b. The city serves in his narra tive as the geographic and cultural location in which revelation is to be founcj The move from Hellenized Alexandria to the tradition and authenticity of the The' ban milieu is as significant as the displacement of the astrologer-king Nechepso by direct divine revelation.

When Thessalos arrived in this religious center, he attempted to befriend the learned Theban priests in order to seek his objective, and as time went on, he made his intentions clear. He asked them whether "some sort of magical operation was still preserved. Smith has suggested that the reaction of the priests to Thessalos's propositions derived from a lost faith in the continued efficacy of traditional ritual powers.

The Latin phrase et quidam eorum faciebant ridiculum de me "and some of them mocked me" is clearly a gloss that garbles the rather more obscure Greek.

The traditional religious and magical practice of Egypt that Thessalos encountered in Thebes, though in transformation, was not yet a moribund and arid shell of its former self. A number of documentary pa- pyri relating to the regulation of native Egyptian priests demonstrate that they University Press, " , Janet H. Johnson and E.

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Wente, eds. See note 13 above. Iiave There, however, the context is Thessalos s e appeal to the priest. Thessalos of Tralles and Cultural Exchange 47 ed to exist and to function in Roman Egypt despite economic decline,3 the temples serving as the focus of their activities. Indeed, there is even ev of some building and refurbishment of temples at Dendera, Philae, and Kom did the temples serving as the focus of their activities. Indeed, there is even ev- Ornbo into the third century. Other scholars had previously proposed that the priests' indignation and un- willingness to help Thessalos are to be explained as fear of prosecution on charges of magic.

Thessalos's priest initially professed that he could procure a vision through lecanomancy bowl divination. A number of See, e. Carl F.

Bar-Jesus (Acts 13.4-12)

See also ibid. Festugiere, "L'experience religieuse," 60 n. In hn , are preserved in the Demotic ma ical papyri. Such procedures were frequently used as a form of le- gal arbitration. In the Ptolemaic In- structions of 'Orichsbeshonqy, the term is mentioned in a context suggesting that even if used for personal inquiries, it was not particularly secretive or illicit: "You should ask three wise men about an individual matter if it is important enough for a ph-ntr of the great god.

There it is associated with a num- ber of spells that resemble the praxis of Thessalos's revelation experience in the PDM xiv. See Janet H. The term appears as follows: PDM xiv. The translation t1j'hv j-l. Thessalos of Trali. In fact two of the ph-ntr spells are "god's arrivals" of Imhotep. Despite their own beliefs, Egyptian priests may have feared prosecution through Roman misunderstanding of their religious activities. Ritner has argued that Roman attitudes and legal re- strictions drove certain Egyptian religious practices "underground," to be prac- ticed away from the potential scrutiny of Roman officials.

Adducing the evidence of theph-ntr spells in the Demotic papyri as well as Thessalos's consultation with the Egyptian priest, he has argued that these represent private, individualistic ver- sions of traditional rites, whose apparent proliferation in the period of Roman rule was a reaction to Roman oppression of Egyptian religion. Aemilius Saturninus, prefect of Egypt under Septimius Severus c. Be- PDM xiv. This seems unlikely, since theoLKO? An alternative suggestion is more likely.


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The shocked reaction of the priests in Thessalos's narrative was not intended to represent fear or disbelief so much as chagrin at the "audacity" Gk. TTpoTreTeta of an outsider who wished entree into the besieged, yet still privileged, world of the Egyptian priesthood and its ritual se- crets. An existing religious tendency ro secrecy and esotericism, perhaps exaggerated by progressive Roman interference in the ad- ministration of Egyptian priesthoods and later the practice of Egyptian religion it- self, would have made the priests unwilling to allow foreigners to witness the mys- teries of their ritual practice.

Certainly, the PDM spells that so closely resemble the praxis of Thessalos's revelation are written in a Demotic script that clearly belongs to an exclusive priestly milieu. They are consciously archaizing in their frequent use of hieratic, and some passages are written in an Egyptian cipher script; these measures were perhaps intended to protect the underground practice of Egyptian religion even from casual Egyptian knowledge.

See pages of this essay. In the fifties b. See Michel Malaise, Les conditions de penetration el 11 Jl fusion des cultes egyptiens en Italic, Etudes preliminaires aux religions orientates dans I kmpl'e e main 22 Leiden: E. Cassius Dio, Histories The most severe repression, resulting from the affair a jj cius, came under Tiberius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities All of these acnons were ized in Rome.

Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History) Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History)
Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History) Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History)
Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History) Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History)
Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History) Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History)
Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History) Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (Magic in History)

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