Jewish Studies

Avigail Manekin-Bamberger

A Jewish Magical Handbook in the Babylonian Talmud

Section: Articles
Jewish Studies Quarterly (JSQ)

Volume 29 () / Issue 3, pp. 242-260 (19)
Published 02.09.2022

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Among the medical and magical discussions in the sixth chapter of BT Shabbat, there is a distinct unit of four curative spells intended for combatting demons or disease. This spell unit has a unified structure that resembles the literary style of late antique Jewish magical handbooks and is replete with parallels to the contemporary Jewish Aramaic incantation bowls. This article analyzes the talmudic spell unit and argues that it is well situated within the Jewish Babylonian magical tradition of Late Antiquity. It then examines the style and content of two additional spells from a Geniza fragment of BT Shabbat. It proposes that the talmudic spell unit stemmed from an external local magical handbook and discusses possible implications regarding the relationship between Babylonian rabbis and magic practitioners and the transmission of Jewish magical traditions.

Avigail Manekin-Bamberger No current data available.