Courses in Institute for the Humanities (Division 394)

101. First Year Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies. (3). (HU).
Section 001 Magic, Religion, and the Bible.
What role does magic play in modern religious life? How has the Bible impacted modern views of magic and magic's relation to religion? As a means for exploring these and related questions, this seminar will offer the student the opportunity to engage in a series of studies on magic in ancient Israelite society. Seminar participants will read relevant passages from the English Bible, examine texts (in translation) and artifacts reflective of the broader ancient Near Eastern and ancient Mediterranean magical traditions (Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Syro-Palestinian, Jewish, Christian, and Greek), and survey various modern social scientific approaches to the study of magic. Students will investigate such issues and topics as the definition of magic, the vocabulary of magic, magic as a ritual complex, magic's relation to science and religion, the anthropology of magic, and the impact of ideology and cultural bias, or the insider-outsider perspective, on the images of magic rendered by both ancient author and modern interpreter alike. The rationale for offering a course on magic and the Bible abides in the veracity of two propositions: (1) magic embodies a society's expression of its self-identity, and (2), like science and religion, magic provides a general analytical category for the comparative study of cultures. (Schmidt)


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