The Fiction of a Jewish Hellenistic Magical-Medical Paideia

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M. J. Geller



The idea of Greek influences on Hellenistic Judaism appears to be so deeply engrained within modern scholarship that nothing could upset this apple cart, at least as reflected in two recent books on various aspects of magic, astronomy, and medicine in Jewish sources from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The usual frame of reference relies upon paradigms clearly outlined by Saul Lieberman and Martin Hengel, that Greek culture and science had penetrated Jewish thinking to such an extent, that even Hebrew and Aramaic texts from Qumran or the Mishnah were eventually integrated into an undefined Hellenistic-Greek Jewish episteme. The present review article advocates an alternative Near Eastern context for Jew- ish writings in the period, one that did not reflect Hellenism in any form.

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