Abstract

Exorcism by Rabbis: Talmudic Sages and Magic

Meir Bar-Ilan

This paper will analyze the relationships between Talmudic sages and magic by careful reading of their accounts on exorcism.

After a short survey of the state of scholarship in Jewish magic in Antiquity, Jewish and especially rabbinic exorcism is discussed. Three stories of exorcism are analyzed, the works of R. Hanina b. Dosa, R. Simon b. Yohai and Abba (R.) Yosi of Saitor. Each of the stories is discussed from several points of view: philological, authenticity, parallel stories, phenomenology, folklore, and so on.

Magic works of talmudic sages will clarify their social and religious status between charismatic and normative leadership, their rabbinic, and even political role. The study will demonstrate the fine distinction between institutional and popular culture.

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last updated: April 15, 2000