Magic Bowls

Ancient artifacts reveal Jewish attitudes toward incantations, demons, and the supernatural.

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The rabbinic literature, of course, distinguished the actions of Jews--rabbis and lay people alike--from those of non-Jews. What the former did, performed in the name of God, was accepted as right and good. It stood in contradistinction to the same acts performed by non-Jews, whose "sorcery" was seen as vile and dangerous.

Inthe magic bowls we see the way in which, in the common culture of the people, even these distinctions were blurred. The Jewish community shared in the broader attitude of its day, accepting the existence of demons and depending upon people's ability, through incantations and spells, to protect themselves and their property.

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Dr. Alan J. Avery-Peck

Alan J. Avery-Peck is the Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies and Chair at Holy Cross University and a prolific author. Dr. Avery-Peck's primary research interest is Judaism in the first six centuries C.E., with particular attention to the literature of Rabbinic Judaism.