Magic in the Roman World: Pagans, Jews and Christians by Naomi Janowitz

By Naomi Janowitz

Utilizing in-depth examples of 'magical' perform corresponding to exorcisms, love rites, alchemy and the transformation of people into divine beings, this vigorous quantity demonstrates that the observe 'magic' was once used commonly in overdue old texts as a part of polemics opposed to enemies and infrequently purely as a time period for different people's rituals. Naomi Janowitz indicates that 'magical' actions have been crucial to past due old non secular perform, and they has to be understood from the viewpoint of these who hired them.

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Extra resources for Magic in the Roman World: Pagans, Jews and Christians (Religion in the First Christian Centuries)

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Daimons are a structural necessity since they are the “interpretative and ministering nature” between gods and humans (DeDefectu 13). Their existence offers explanations 33 T H E W O R L D O F EX O R C I S M for all questionable rites such as eating raw flesh and human sacrifice, actions which were never done on behalf of the higher gods (DeDefectu 14). So, too, all questionable stories about gods are really just stories about daimons. The exact distinction between daimons and greater gods is a subject for debate; daimons die, but some, such as the Stoics, argue that only one god is truly eternal (DeDefectu 19).

It functioned as one more aspersion to cast at opponents, appearing alongside, and not seeming to effect, a general belief that mageia is the effective use of supernatural forces. 5). For Irenaeus the charges remained at the level of name-calling, unlike the later case of Priscillian who was executed by his enemies as a heretic and magician. Irenaeus did not have the political means to punish other Christians as magicians. Irenaeus’ theory does not appear to be uniquely Christian. He considers the possibility that some actions called magic may simply be fraudulent, while his real concern was with effective actions powered by evil forces.

The church fathers’ views of magic In religious debates during the first three centuries charges of magic were used in numerous ways to draw distinctions between insiders and outsiders, and between proper and improper practices and beliefs. At the simplest level “magic” was the term used for other people’s religious rituals (Neusner 1989). 29 Jews and Christians condemned “pagan” rituals as magic. As one example among many, for Justin his turn to Christianity was a turn away from magic (1Apol. 31 It would be a mistake to leave the discussion at the level of these isolated comments.

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