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Ancient Magic and Medicine - Determining Guilt or Innocence in the Bible

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Ancient Magic and Medicine - Determining Guilt or Innocence in the Bible

Erin Guinn-Villareal

Many ancient Near Eastern cultures invoked magical powers and medical arts to conjure the guilt or innocence of accused parties. Surviving texts and illustrations bear witness that the Hittites, Mari, Mesopotamians and Babylonians all relied on these occult practices to find the truth.

Israelites may also have practiced these magical rites, as revealed in the Jealousy Ordeal in Numbers 5:11-31.

In these passages, a husband who suspects his wife of adultery is instructed to bring her to a priest who will preside over a series of ritual acts in order to determine her guilt or innocence.

The significance of the Jealousy Ordeal is still being debated, despite decades of scholarship. This talk will use this ritual to explore the influence of broader ancient Near Eastern magical and medical topics on biblical interpretation, and then propose an alternative analysis of the ritual that emphasizes its social and justice components.

Erin Guinn-Villareal is completing her PhD at Johns Hopkins University

For Tickets: http://www.basonova.org/upcoming-lectures.html