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Astral Magic In Ancient Jewish Discourse: Adoption, Transformation, Differentiation

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Chapter Summary

When scholars analyze the relationship between Judaism and Christianity on the one hand, and the practice of astrology and magic on the other, they are confronted with many biases and preconceived attitudes about the nature of these practices and their incompatibility with monotheistic theology. The authors objective is to identify three major fields of ancient magical discourse that make use of astrological semantics. All of them - the control of cosmic powers, the veneration of planets, and the heavenly journeys of religious specialists - reveal strategies of adopting, transforming and polemically differentiating magical theory and practice in the first centuries CE. From a methodological point of view, the three discursive fields that the author has discussed - the control of cosmic powers, the veneration of planets and the heavenly journeys of religious specialists - challenge simple demarcations that have dominated scholarly analyses of Judaism's relation to astrology and magic.

Keywords: Christianity; cosmic powers; Judaism; monotheistic theology



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