Online Resources for the Mandaeans

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The Mandaeans are a contemporary religion with communities in Iraq and Iran, as well as an expanding Diaspora in Europe, North America, and Australia; their heritage reaches back to Late-Antique Mesopotamia.  Most scholars of religion in Late Antiquity have ignored them, especially after earlier attempts to interpret key Gospel passages through Mandaean literature fell sharply, and deservedly, out of favor.  In more recent scholarship, their importance for understanding pre-Islamic religion in Sasanian Iran is slowly being recognized.  Yet major texts, such as the Mandaic Book of John, are not available in English translation. Professors Charles Häberl of Rutgers University and James McGrath of Butler University are producing a translation of this Book of John; their work-in-progress is helpfully posted on the project blog. Continue reading

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The Virtual Magic Bowl Archive (VMBA) and Prosopography

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The Virtual Magic Bowl Archive is a collaborative environment for the publication of magic bowls in the Moussaieff, Dehays, and Barakat collections.  It is housed at the University of Southampton, under the direction of Dr. Dan Levene, with a number of other prominent collaborators in Europe, Israel, and North America.  While the archive, which includes photographs and transcriptions, currently has restricted access, The VMBA site contains several useful resources and descriptions of ongoing projects.  These include the Aramaic Magical Texts from Late Antiquity (AMTLA), a BIRAX project conducted by Dr. Dan Levene and Prof. Gideon Bohak, part of which is the valuable prosopography of the Babylonian Magic Bowls, compiled by Dr. Ortal-Paz Saar of Tel Aviv University Continue reading

A Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity

This bibliographic database, compiled and hosted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Center for the Study of Christianity, covers scholarship in multiple languages from the 17th-century to 2012.  One can conveniently browse or search the database by author, year, era, or keyword (reflecting the generous tagging of each individual entry for content). Continue reading

Traditions of Magic in Late Antiquity

This site, from the (relatively) early days of the web, is the result of an exhibit at the Kelsey Museum of the University of Michigan, curated in 1996 by Gideon Bohak, who has recently published Ancient Jewish Magic: A History (Cambridge, 2008).  Included are “Recipe books,” papyri with instructions for assembling various ingredients as part of the spell; a particularly rich collection of papyri amulets and gems, mostly from Campbell Bonner’s Studies in Magical Amulets: Chiefly Graeco-Egyptian (Ann Arbor, 1950), including the famous cock-headed anguiped “IAO;” Continue reading