Public lecture 'Jewish Magic from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century'

23 February 2023

Venue: Public lecture@Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Professor Gideon Bohak* will present a brief overview of the Jewish magical tradition, from antiquity to today.

It opens with a short discussion of the biblical prohibitions against magic and divination, and the biblical stories about magicians and diviners. Next, it covers the major stages in the development of Jewish magic, from the little evidence we have of Jewish magic in the First Temple period, to the more abundant evidence of Jewish magic in the Second Temple period, and the explosion of the evidence for Jewish magic in Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Modern world.

Throughout the presentation, we will examine both texts and images documenting the Jewish magical tradition in its different manifestations.    

Start: 17.00 hrs
End: 18.00 hrs

Location: Leemanszaal, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

* Professor Gideon Bohak holds the Jacob M. Alkow Chair for the History of the Jews in the Ancient World at Tel Aviv University. His main field of research is the history of Jewish magic. His most recent books include A Fifteenth-Century Manuscript of Jewish Magic, Los Angeles, 2014 (in Hebrew), Magie, anges et démons dans la tradition juive, Paris, 2015 (with Anne  Hélène Hoog), and Thà„bit ibn Qurra On Talismans and Pseudo-Ptolemy On Images 1-9, Florence, 2021 (with Charles Burnett). His many articles are devoted to the publication and analysis of new texts, and to programmatic discussions of Jewish magic and Jewish history. 

This lecture is part of the workshop Structuring Magic: Towards a Digital Infrastructure of Texts and Artefacts.


A Babylonian incantation bowl from the collection of the National Library of Israel, donated by Ms. Aliza Moussaieff.


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