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Magic In The Dead Sea Scrolls

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows that, within the Qumran community, the blanket condemnation of magic in the Old Testament and in Enochic tradition, although theoretically sustained and even intensified, has already evolved into a practice in which at least two types of magic, exorcism and divination, were not only tolerated but actively used. The Dead Sea Scrolls thus bear witness the process of change in approach to magic in the Jewish world long before the Christian era, and they show that this change has taken place within a very learned and secluded society. The chapter shows the reasons why these two types of magic found in Dead Sea Scrolls were put to practice within this learned and biblically based community. This peculiar deterministic and dualistic world-view reflected in magic texts allow us to understand why, in spite of the biblical prohibitions, magic was not only tolerated but actively practised by Qumran community.

Keywords: biblical prohibitions; Dead Sea Scrolls; divination; Enochic tradition; exorcism; Jewish world; magic; Old Testament; Qumran community



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