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The Cambridge History of Magic and Witchcraft in the West
From Antiquity to the Present


Daniel Schwemer, Friedhelm Hoffmann, Kimberly B. Stratton, Kyle A. Fraser, Maijastina Kahlos, Yitzhak Hen, Alicia Walker, Travis Zadeh, Gideon Bohak, Catherine Rider, David J. Collins, S.J., Michael D. Bailey, Helen L. Parish, Louise Burkhart, Richard Godbeer, Margaret Wiener, Owen Davies, David Allen Harvey, Raquel Romberg, Sabina Magliocco
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  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108703079

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About the Authors
  • This book presents twenty chapters by experts in their fields, providing a thorough and interdisciplinary overview of the theory and practice of magic in the West. Its chronological scope extends from the Ancient Near East to twenty-first-century North America; its objects of analysis range from Persian curse tablets to US neo-paganism. For comparative purposes, the volume includes chapters on developments in the Jewish and Muslim worlds, evaluated not simply for what they contributed at various points to European notions of magic, but also as models of alternative development in ancient Mediterranean legacy. Similarly, the volume highlights the transformative and challenging encounters of Europeans with non-Europeans, regarding the practice of magic in both early modern colonization and more recent decolonization.

    • Contains twenty chapters by twenty eminent specialists from a variety of disciplines
    • Offers careful consideration of distinctively 'European' developments in light of different developments in the Greek, Jewish, and Muslim societies of the Mediterranean
    • Examines how the dynamics of colonization and decolonization affected magical thought and practices among both colonizers and colonized
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This impressive collective volume proposes a coherent history of learned magic in Western Europe and the colonial world between Christianization and contemporary neo-paganism. It has found an access to magic that contrasts with the many studies that situate magic in a religious or anthropological context, and thus is a welcome and necessary supplement and corrective. Giordano Bruno would have relished it.' Fritz Graf, Ohio State University

    'This volume offers a rich and exciting set of essays that will prove invaluable to scholarly discussions of Western magic and witchcraft. With contributions from a range of innovative scholars, the collection masterfully intertwines expansive historical and cultural insight with creative theoretical reflection.' Randall Styers, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    'This important and ambitious collection of twenty authoritative essays … is likely to become a standard work in the field because of the quality of the contributions, and the unprecedented wide range of material covered in a single volume … the choice of chapters and selection of scholars would be hard to better … it ought to be on the shelf of every historian of religion, let alone historians of witchcraft and magic.' Francis Young, Journal of Jesuit Studies

    '… this volume is well constructed, thoughtful, and interesting, with contributing authors of high scholarly standing. It is recommended to readers interested in magic and witchcraft, and their close relatives - religion and esotericism - across a broad historical and geographical sweep.' Carole M. Cusack, Church History

    'There can be no doubt that it is a welcome addition to magic and witchcraft studies since it offers a refreshing number of departures from tired clichés, and invites the reader to think about magic beyond the boundaries of western Europe. … Both Collins and his contributors are to be congratulated on their ambition for this volume, and its individual accomplishments.' Peter Maxwell-Stuart, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108703079
    • length: 810 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 45 mm
    • weight: 1.2kg
    • contains: 66 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Ancient Near East Daniel Schwemer
    2. Ancient Egypt Friedhelm Hoffmann
    3. Early Greco-Roman antiquity Kimberly B. Stratton
    4. Imperial Rome Kyle A. Fraser
    5. The early church Maijastina Kahlos
    6. The early medieval West Yitzhak Hen
    7. Magic in medieval Byzantium Alicia Walker
    8. Magic, marvel, and miracle in early Islamic thought Travis Zadeh
    9. Jewish magic in the Middle Ages Gideon Bohak
    10. Common magic Catherine Rider
    11. Learned magic David J. Collins, S.J.
    12. Diabolic magic Michael D. Bailey
    13. Magic and priestcraft: reformers and reformation Helen L. Parish
    14. Spain and Mexico Louise Burkhart
    15. Folk magic in North America Richard Godbeer
    16. Colonial magic: the Dutch East Indies Margaret Wiener
    17. Magic in common and legal perspectives Owen Davies
    18. Elite magic in the nineteenth century David Allen Harvey
    19. Magic in the postcolonial Americas Raquel Romberg
    20. New-age and neo-pagan magic Sabina Magliocco.

  • Editor

    David J. Collins, S. J., Georgetown University, Washington DC
    David J. Collins, S. J., is Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University, Washington DC. His research has been supported by prestigious fellowships from the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation, the Alexander Humboldt Foundation, and the Gerda Henkel Foundation. He has published extensively on the medieval cult of the saints, Renaissance humanism, and learned magic, especially in central Europe. He is currently working on the reception of Albertus Magnus' teachings on magic in the early modern period.


    Daniel Schwemer, Friedhelm Hoffmann, Kimberly B. Stratton, Kyle A. Fraser, Maijastina Kahlos, Yitzhak Hen, Alicia Walker, Travis Zadeh, Gideon Bohak, Catherine Rider, David J. Collins, S.J., Michael D. Bailey, Helen L. Parish, Louise Burkhart, Richard Godbeer, Margaret Wiener, Owen Davies, David Allen Harvey, Raquel Romberg, Sabina Magliocco

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