Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Semitic Magic : Its Origins and Development By R. CAMPBELL THOMPSON

The theories put forward or maintained in this book  are based on a study of that intricate demonology  which has gradually developed throughout the lands  of Western Asia. The earliest written records of this  magic are found in the cuneiform incantation tablets  from Assyria ; and, aided by the various steppingstones  afforded by Rabbinic tradition, Syriac monkish  writings, and Arabic tales, we can trace its growth  and decadence through three thousand years down to  its survival in modern Oriental superstition. Furthermore,  the parallels afforded by Aryan and Hamitic  nations show how close the grooves are in which savage  ideas run, and that the principles of magic are, broadly  speaking, coincident in each separate nation, and yet,  as far as we know, of independent invention. All these  superstitions combine to throw light on many of the  peculiar customs of the Old Testament, and help to  explain the hidden reason why these customs existed.  From a study of the characteristics of the evil spirits,  which the Semite believed to exist everywhere, certain  deductions can be made which bear intimately on our  knowledge of the origins of certain tabus and the  principle of atonement.

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