Lecture: Jewish Magic from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century

Professor Gideon Bohak (Tel Aviv University) holds a presentation, which offers a brief overview of the Jewish magical tradition, from antiquity to today. Throughout the presentation, he will examine both texts and images documenting the Jewish magical tradition in its different manifestations.

  • date: Thursday 23 February 2023
  • time: 17:00 – 18:00
  • location: Leemans Room, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
  • entrance: free

Organized by the Lorentz Center

The public lecture is organized by the Lorentz Center, in line with their workshop Structuring Magic: Towards a Digital Infrastructure of Texts and Artefacts on 20-24 February 2023. The Lorentz Center in Leiden is a workshop center that hosts international scientific meetings.

Jewish Magic

The lecture opens with a short discussion of the biblical prohibitions against magic and divination, and the biblical stories about magicians and diviners. Next, it covers the major stages in the development of Jewish magic, from the little evidence we have of Jewish magic in the First Temple period, to the more abundant evidence of Jewish magic in the Second Temple period, and the explosion of the evidence for Jewish magic in Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Modern world.

About the speaker

Professor Gideon Bohak holds the Jacob M. Alkow Chair for the History of the Jews in the Ancient World at Tel Aviv University. His main field of research is the history of Jewish magic. His most recent books include A Fifteenth-Century Manuscript of Jewish Magic, Los Angeles, 2014 (in Hebrew), Magie, anges et démons dans la tradition juive, Paris, 2015 (with Anne Hélène Hoog), and Thābit ibn Qurra On Talismans and Pseudo-Ptolemy On Images 1-9, Florence, 2021 (with Charles Burnett). His many articles are devoted to the publication and analysis of new texts, and to programmatic discussions of Jewish magic and Jewish history.

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Jewish Magic

A Babylonian incantation bowl from the collection of the National Library of Israel, donated by Ms. Aliza Moussaieff