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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
Frankfurter, David, editor

Leiden: Brill, 2019 pp. xx + 798. $299.00

Series Information
Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 189

Description: 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.

Subjects: Ancient Near East, Greco-Roman Literature, Early Christian Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Archaeology, Social-Scientific Approaches

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Review by Laura Nasrallah
Published 5/21/2020
Citation: Laura Nasrallah, review of David Frankfurter, ed., Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2020).


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