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Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, Volume 1: Biblical and Pagan Societies Paperback – December 13, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Witchcraft and Magic in Europe
  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (December 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812217853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812217858
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,599,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for the series:



"An exceptional historical and social analysis of a subject of enduring interest."—Library Journal



"Although intended mainly for scholars, there is much to interest the common reader."—New Yorker



"A modern scholarly survey of a wide variety of beliefs and practices from ancient times to the present."—Theology Digest

About the Author

Bengt Ankarloo is Professor of History at Lund University, Sweden. Stuart Clark is Professor of History at the University of Wales, Swansea.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on August 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
WITCHCRAFT AND MAGIC IN EUROPE: BIBLICAL AND PAGAN SOCIETIES, edited by Bengt Ankarloo and Stuart Clark is the first in a six-volume series of scholarly essays on the subject of magic and witchcraft in Europe from the Iron Age through modern times. I have read five of the six books, and found them to be very scholarly, extremely interesting, and best of all-objective. The last book in the series, Volume 4. "The Period of the Witch Trials" (known as the "burning times" in 15th Century Europe), is scheduled to be published in late 2002. The historians, linguists, archeologists, and other social scientists who worked on these volumes are academics and experts in their subject areas.
Volume I contains two essays, "Witchcraft and Magic in Ancient Mesopotamia" by Marie-Louise Thomsen and "Magic in Ancient Syria-Palestine and in the Old Testament." Thomsen's essay examines and comments on literary and other material found in archeological digs in Mesopotamia. Treasures unearthed in what is today modern Iraq speak of lost empires (Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian) and wonders of the ancient world such as the White Ziggurat and the Hanging Gardens. Mesopotamia (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where the Moon God Sin and the Goddess Inanna ruled) has produced numerous ancient cuneiform writing tablets which describe the power of precious stones, amulets for the protection of babies, love charms, potency incantations, and a variety of other practices for dealing with ghosts, evil portents, healing and the removal of curses. The work of Babylonian astrologer/astronomers still amaze.
Cryer's work tackles the notion of the Bible as "truth" head on.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey W. Dennis on December 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
The first volume of this series starts out magnificently, with Dr. Thomsen giving a magisterial overview of magical practices in general and witchcraft in particular in Sumerian and Akkadian societies of Mesopotamia. I cannot recommend it enough as a well-constructed and illustrative handbook for introducing the unfamiliar to ANE magic.

The second essay, on Biblical magic and witchcraft, by contrast, was a grave disappointment. Less than half the length of the Thomsen piece, it squanders much of its barely 50 pages on arguing about (really against) the historicity of Biblical narrative. This issue is actually remarkably peripheral to the intended topic - the impact of Biblical notions of magic and witchcraft in shaping subsequent European history - but that didn't stop this author (named Cryer, a remarkably apppropriate moniker) devoting enormous time to whining on this tangential subject. He actually spends paragraphs whinging about the unfairness of how moderns spend too much time focusing on this small corner of the Ancient Near East (Biblical Israel - though he is loath to speak the words, preferring Syria-Palestine), ignoring larger and longer lasting civilizations (maybe its because the Hittites, as interesting as they were, had comparatively little influence on the topic at hand, which is, it merits repeating, WITCHCRAFT AND MAGIC IN EUROPE). And he does not compensate for this indulgance with an equally detailed analysis of Biblical taxonomies of sorcery and divination.

Obviously divination holds his greatest interest, and he does offer some interesting insights into the mysterious Urim and Thummim, but gives another issue closer to the purpose of the series, the shamanistic dimension of Biblical prophecy, hardly more than a passing nod.
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I first encountered this series in my college's library. They only had a couple of volumes to this six volume set, but I could not put them down. The historical research is thorough for anyone interested in the subject of witchcraft and magic throughout history.

Volume 1 is a bit slender,unlike the rest of the set which are a bit thicker. There is sketchy information about the witch's craft during the early periods because much of what is now practiced were incorporated in both state rites of now long gone civilizations and folk ways that were not so well documented during a mostly illiterate populace. All in all, this book builds a solid foundation for the rest of the series.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christopher R. Travers on March 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, this has very, very little to do with witchcraft or magic in Europe. The first part is about Mesopotamian magical texts, while the second one involves questions of divination and curses in the Old Testament.

This book is also quite simplistic and does not provide a very deep look at any of these subjects.

I would recommend "Amulets and Superstitions" by Budge as a better coverage of the same material despite the fact that it is a century out of date.
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