Aramaic Bowl Spells: Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Bowls Volume by Shaul Shaked

By Shaul Shaked

This quantity provides variations of sixty-four Jewish Aramaic incantation bowls from the Schøyen assortment, with accompanying introductions, translations, philological notes, pictures and indices, when it comes to the mystical divorce and the wonder-working sages anina ben Dosa and Joshua bar Peraia.

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Additional resources for Aramaic Bowl Spells: Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Bowls Volume One (Magical and Religious Literature of Late Antiquity)

Example text

They were not texts meant to be studied by the general public. Although they were based on mystical visions and supported by a theoretical view of the supernatural, they were dedicated to the task of presenting an applied aspect of the science from which they were derived. 31 The magic handbooks were, therefore, part of a certain type of religious practice. Their main distinction from the prayer-book type of composition lay in the fact that they were partly or wholly private or esoteric. A prominent part of the texts is devoted to verses quoted from the Bible.

49 The incantation is sometimes alluded to metaphorically as pwrʾ “a lot (that is cast)”, a loanword from Akkadian in Aramaic,50 ḥtmʾ “seal”,51or gyṭʾ “legal deed”, or more particularly “deed of divorce”,52 where this is an appropriate term for the type of spell that is being used. 53 The Structure of an Incantation54 The text that is written on a bowl is called, for our purposes, an incantation. It consists normally of several different parts. Most prominent among them is a spell, or quite frequently several spells.

We do not even have access to all the bowls unearthed and presently in the hands of collectors or curators. We thus cannot take the preceding guidelines as absolute criteria. Even if we did have the full texts of all bowls, we would no doubt come across sections of text in some incantations which bear all the hallmarks of a spell, but are attested on no other bowl: this is because the practitioner on occasion felt at liberty to improvise and produce a new text in a style and mould with which he was intimately acquainted (we may assume that most practitioners of this type of magic were men).

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