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Book chapter

Greek magical terminology in the Septuagint

An important yet still understudied category of religious vocabulary in the Septuagint are words denoting practitioners and practices which would fall under the category of ‘magic’ and ‘sorcery’. Such words are found among almost all the genres of the Old Testament books: in the legislative texts of the Pentateuch prohibiting these practices, in accusatory contexts of the historical and prophetic books, and in the more neutral narrative passages describing how people appeal to soothsayers and sorcerers. My inquiry will focus not so much on the magical practices as such, but rather on the terminology denoting sorcerers, magicians and what they did, the contexts in which this vocabulary was used, as well as attitudes demonstrated in respect to them in different texts. The list of the words examined in the paper is not exhaustive and is confined to the terms μάγος, φάρμακος, ἐπῳδός and their cognates, i.e. the main roots which were used to speak about magic in the Classical Greek language.