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Magic and Divination in the Old Testament


Solomon Nigosian, Ph.D., is Research Associate at the University of Toronto, Victoria College, specializing in Biblical and Near Eastern Religions. His numerous books include From Ancient Writings to Sacred Texts: The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The Zoroastrian Faith: Tradition and Modern Research, Islam: Its History Teaching and Practices, and World Religions: A Historical Approach, 4th ed. Dr. Nigosian is the recipient of numerous honours and awards.

Humans, since time immemorial, have tried to discover and influence the will of spirits and deities that they believed to be in charge of their lives. As a result, all cultures have produced certain special individuals thought to be closely in touch with the powers of the supernatural world. Was this true of ancient Israel? If so, who were the occult experts and what techniques were used by them?

This study explores the many practices and rituals associated with magic and divination among the ancient Israelites as documented in the Old Testament. Seeking omens and consulting seers and diviners were widely practiced, though in the biblical text such activities are roundly condemned. Solomon Nigosian’s scholarly work is written in language that makes it absorbing reading for both the biblical scholar and the layperson.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-296-9
Hardback Price: £45.00 / $69.50
Release Date: August 2008
Page Extent / Format: 156 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


The Biblical View: A Survey
Magical Activities
Divinatory Techniques
Magicians Seers and Diviners
An Assessment

Index of Biblical References
Index of Authors
General Index

This short monograph is a welcome contribution to an exciting research area, that is, the study of magic in ancient religions. Whereas studies of Jewish religion in the Second Temple or late antique periods can profit from a relatively rich set of literary and archaeological data (although often struggling with great difficulties of interpretation), Nigosian has decided to explore a range of biblical material (contained in the OT) that is not covered by most other works and is excluded from almost any other source of evidence.
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly

In order to provide biblical students and others with basic information, Nigosian (biblical and Near Eastern religions, U. of Toronto-Victoria College) assembles, classifies, and critically examines Old Testament evidence for the occult functionaries and their activities in ancient Israelite religion. Among his topics are exorcising demons, cleromancy (casting lots), and necromancers.
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