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- DescriptionIn the waning years of the Roman Empire, Jews, Christians, and pagans alike used rituals to bridge the gap between the human and the divine. Depending on one's point of view, however, such rituals could be labeled negatively as magic or positively as theurgy. This has led to numerous problems of interpretation, including marginalizing certain ritual practices as magic or occult while privileging others as genuine or orthodox. In Icons of Power, Naomi Jawitz sifts through the polemics to make sense of the daunting mosaic of religious belief and practice in Late Antiquity. From rabbis who ascended to heavenly places, to sorcerers seeking to harm enemies with spells, to alchemists working metals to purify the soul, Jawitz reveals how ritual practitioners held common assumptions about why their rituals worked and about how to perform those rituals. Indeed, such assumptions were so much a part of the inherited mentality of the age that they were, for the most part, never explained-and this is precisely what Jawitz accomplishes in Icons of Power. By shifting the discussion out of the rhetoric of magic or mysticism and describing the mechanisms of ritual with semiotic terms, she moves us beyond the value-laden termilogy of ancient polemicists and modern scholars so that we can better see how these rituals worked and how they affected the social identities of their followers. Jawitz recovers a lost world of religious expression that has been clouded by misinterpretation for many centuries. In the process, Icons of Power makes an important contribution to our understanding of society in Late Antiquity.
- Author BiographyNaomi Janowitz is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California at Davis, USA. She is the author of The Poetics of Ascent: Theories of Language in a Rabbinic Ascent Text (1989).
- Author(s)Naomi Janowitz
- PublisherPennsylvania State University Press
- Date of Publication02/04/2002
- SubjectAncient History
- Series TitleMagic in History
- Place of PublicationPennsylvania
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintPennsylvania State University Press
- Content Noteblack & white illustrations
- Weight290 g
- Width152 mm
- Height229 mm
- Spine11 mm
- Format DetailsTrade paperback (US)
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