Charles Häberl deposited The Aramaic incantation texts as witnesses to the Mandaic Scriptures on Humanities Commons 4 months, 1 week ago
The Aramaic incantation texts from late antique Mesopotamia have been invoked as sources for the dialects of Late Aramaic, as well as sources on the religions of Late Antiquity, but outside of the small cabal of scholars who work on these texts, they are seldom viewed as a legitimate source of information about either. Often, they are deprecated as “defective” vernacular texts drawing upon a myriad of “hybrid” or heterodox folk religious traditions, rather than the normative orthodox religions from which they putatively derive. In addressing them, we presuppose a set of dyads: the material within them has been categorized as “religious” or “magical” on the one hand, and “literary” or “oral” on the other. These abstract categories, thus conceived, are then reified and sealed off from one another. By consigning these texts to one or another arm of these dyads, we perpetuate this highly problematic categorization. In my view, much could be obtained by setting aside the question of categorization and examining the ways in which these texts appear to be in dialog with one another.