Theoretical frameworks for the study of "magic" in the contemporary study of religion

Course Information
TitleΘεωρητικές προσεγγίσεις της «μαγείας» στην ακαδημαϊκή μελέτη των θρησκειών της αρχαιότητας / Theoretical frameworks for the study of "magic" in the contemporary study of religion
Cycle / Level1st / Undergraduate
Teaching PeriodSpring
CoordinatorPanayotis Pachis
Course ID600019340

Programme of Study: Anamorfōméno PPS Tmīmatos THeologías (2020)

Registered students: 13
OrientationAttendance TypeSemesterYearECTS
KORMOSElective CoursesSpring-3

Class Information
Academic Year2020 – 2021
Class PeriodSpring
Faculty Instructors
Weekly Hours3
Class ID

Class Schedule

HallΕξ αποστάσεως (900)
CalendarFriday 16:00 to 19:00
Course Type 2016-2020
  • Scientific Area
Course Type 2011-2015
Knowledge Deepening / Consolidation
Mode of Delivery
  • Face to face
Digital Course Content
The course is also offered to exchange programme students.
Language of Instruction
  • Greek (Instruction, Examination)
  • English (Instruction, Examination)
Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, students should be able to: -Specify contemporary theoretical and methodological discussions that may be applied to the research of religions / cults of antiquity -Analyze basic terms (categories) (such as "magic”) based on representatives of modern research of the ancient world -Develop a correct and not misleading view of the ancient world. -Approach critcially the issue of the “system” as it had formed during the Graeco-Roman age -Decode the way of thinking of the ancient world individuals regarding their gods, i.e. the preoccupations, preconceptions, and assumptions of ancient Greek religion and culture
General Competences
  • Apply knowledge in practice
  • Retrieve, analyse and synthesise data and information, with the use of necessary technologies
  • Make decisions
  • Work autonomously
  • Work in teams
  • Work in an international context
  • Work in an interdisciplinary team
  • Generate new research ideas
  • Appreciate diversity and multiculturality
  • Respect natural environment
  • Demonstrate social, professional and ethical commitment and sensitivity to gender issues
  • Be critical and self-critical
  • Advance free, creative and causative thinking
Course Content (Syllabus)
The main purpose of this seminar is to understand the current issue of the term “magic’ according to the standards of the modern research, where authors could no longer get away with “using magic the way the ancient authors did,” since ancient authors never used (our term) magic anyway. If the terms that magic has traditionally covered in ancient languages tended to evaluate ritual acts (or experts) as either ambiguous or illegitimate, then why not look at the terms and the evaluations as indigenous strategies to evaluate, censure, render exotic—that is, as emic discourses in various ancient cultures? And then the texts that we label magic and from which we build our concepts of magic—what are these texts on their own terms? Consequently does the term magic have any real utility? Many scholars have come to reject it as inevitably deviant and exoticizing; but there may be some specific areas where the term may be less harmful or alien as description—may even hold up aspects of language or materiality for critical attention. It is, after all, up to scholars, not their sources, to decide on the value and meaning of a modern category.
magic, astrology, augur, curse tablets (defixiones), Magical Papyri, mimetic magic, sympathetic magic.
Educational Material Types
  • Notes
  • Book
Use of Information and Communication Technologies
Use of ICT
  • Use of ICT in Course Teaching
  • Use of ICT in Communication with Students
  • Use of ICT in Student Assessment
Use of Power Points during the lectures (and presentations). Collaboration with the students during the Semester through E-Mails.
Course Organization
Reading Assigment241.0
Written assigments100.4
Student Assessment
Writing of Papers - Discussions - Evaluaiton of current scientific theories and methodologies. The rating of the students is a result of their efficiencies during the Semester.
Student Assessment methods
  • Written Assignment (Formative)
  • Oral Exams (Summative)
Course Bibliography (Eudoxus)
Panayotis Pachis, Religion and Politics in the Graeco-Roman World: Redescribing the Isis-Sarapis Cult, Thessaloniki: Barbounakis Publications, 2010(Εύδοξος).
Additional bibliography for study
Aune, D. E., “The Use of the Term ‘Magic’ as a Socio-Religious Category in the Study of the Greco-Roman World and Early Christianity”,in: Stephen K. Black (ed.), To Set at Liberty: Essays on Early Christianity and Its Social World in Honor of John H. Elliott, The Social World of Biblical Antiquity, 2nd ser., 11 (Sheffield [England]: Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 2014, 15–26. Betz, H. D. (ed.), The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation. Including the Demotic Spells, Chicago-London:The Univdrsity of Chicago Press, 1992. Dickie, W. M., Magic and Magicians in the Roman World, London-New York: Routledge,2002. Edmonds. R.G. III, Drawing Down the Moon. Maic in the ancient Greco-Roman World, Princeton-Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2019. Faraone, Chr.-Obbink, D., Magika Hiera. Ancient Greek Magic and Religion, New York-Oxford: Oxford University Press,1991. Frankfurter, D. (ed.), Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic, Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 189, Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2019. Graf, F., Magic in the Ancient World, transl. by Fr. Philip, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. Otto,B.-Chr.- and Stausberg, M., eds., Defining Magic: A Reader, Critical Categories in the Study of Religion. Sheffield: Equinox, 2014. Otto,B.-Chr., “Towards Historicizing ‘Magic’ in Antiquity,” Numen 60 (2013): 308–47 Otto,B.-Chr., Magie, Rezeptions- und diskursgeschichtliche Analysen von der Antike bis zur Neuzeit, Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten 57, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011. Styers, R., Making Magic: Religion, Magic, and Science in the Modern World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Versnel, H.S. “Some Reflections on the Relationship Magic-Religion”, Numen XXXVIII,2 (1991), 177-197.
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