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Magic or Miracle? How this Question Divided Ancient Jews and Christians

Megan Nutzman, Old Dominion University
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
7:00-8:30 PM
Off Campus Location
West Bloomfield Lecture Series: Jews and Judaism in Antiquity

Research into the “parting of the ways” between ancient Jews and Christians typically focuses on the ideological borders constructed by ancient authors. However, these writings obscure the experience of non-elites, for whom the exigencies of daily life – such as the health of one’s family – may have overshadowed rhetorical concerns. Rabbinic and patristic authors used rituals intended to preserve or restore health as a means of distinguishing Jews and Christians, reflecting a common belief that ritual cures were miracles if they took place within one’s own community and magic if they took place outside it. Nevertheless, Roman and late antique evidence from Israel suggests that non-elites were undeterred by this rhetoric and were willing to experiment with seemingly beneficial rituals, such as the use of amulets, even if they were similar to ones popular among foreign religious or cultural groups.

Photo Credit: Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: JCC of Metro Detroit, 6600 W Maple Rd, West Bloomfield Township, MI 48322
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Jewish Studies, Lecture
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Judaic Studies