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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: March 2015

Chapter 8 - Magic, Marvel, and Miracle in Early Islamic Thought

from Part III - Parallel Traditions


This chapter approaches magic in the early church from two angles. In first, it examines the ways in which different groups of people performing rituals were depicted as practitioners of magic. In second, the discussion of Late Antique practices deemed to be magical focuses on the competition for spiritual authority between ritual experts. In the eyes of Graeco-Roman outsiders, Christian practices resembled widespread stereotypes of magic. Origen was a Christian apologist who addressed allegations of magic against Christians by reframing the terms. Celsus had accused Christians of attaining their powers by using the names of demons in their incantations. Christian writers connected magic with demons and designated Graeco-Roman cult practices as magic and asserted that they dealt with evil spirits. The association of magic with paganism and heresy in imperial legislation shows how the imperial government aimed at harnessing magic for various social, political and religious goals.

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