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Invoking a Strange God: Rituals of Power and Religious Contacts in the Late Antique Mediterranean World and Medieval Europe


CERES-Palais, Raum "Ruhrpott" (4.13)

This workshop brings together scholars in the fields of late antique and medieval magic and Kabbalah in the Mediterranean world and Western Asia to study the role of religious contacts in their historical contexts. The conference advances a three-fold programmatic approach:

  • First, its participants are invited to consider the composite nature of primary sources of ancient, late-antique, and medieval of “magic” and Kabbalah as texts documenting the accumulations of practices and ideologies underlying rituals of power. As a result, the first approach aims to uncover paths of circulation and patches of accumulation of these documents.
  • Second, the scholars are invited to discuss historical instances of late-antique and medieval magic and Kabbalah as instances of mutual influence, exchanges, and appropriations among various historical religious traditions. As such, this approach encourages the participants to explore the malleable role of “tradition” and “change” in the discourses associated with practices of ritual power and invocations of divine names.
  • Third, the scholars are invited to undertake analyses of the materiality associated with rituals of power in various ancient and medieval Jewish and Christian traditions. In doing this, the third programmatic approach seeks to highlight the role of materiality in the transmission of occult religious traditions, such as magic and Kabbalah.

The outcome of this workshop will be a special issue dedicated to the above approaches, to be published in the Journal Entangled Religions in 2020.

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