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Production of Religious Knowledge (1/2)

27-129 | Thursday, 9 a.m. | 215
Session Chair: Esther Eidinow

André De Campos Silva

Changes in Discourse Regarding the Relationship between Humans and Deities in the Ancient Egyptian Wisdom Instructions

In ancient Egypt’s “wisdom literature” there were several differences, in form and content, from one historical period to another. Here the subgenre of the “instructions” of the Middle and New Kingdoms (c. 2010-1630, c. 1539-1069 BCE, respectively) will be considered. Chiefly among the changes from the Middle to New Kingdoms’ instructions that will be addressed are: the contributions from the wider New Kingdom phenomenon known as “personal piety” − leading to the depiction of a closer relationship between humans and gods −, and the seeming replacement of connective justice (Ma’at) by arbitrary divine will. In this paper an analysis will be undertaken of what made possible these changes in the instructions’ discourse regarding the way the relationship between humans and deities was presented and used by the authors of these texts, and of how the new ideas coexisted with the intensive copying of Middle Kingdom instructions in New Kingdom schools.

Augusto Cosentino

The exorcisms of King Solomon

There is a tradition in Jerusalem, according to which King Solomon possesses powers of exorcism. The Judeo-Christian text titled "Testament of Solomon" speaks of these powers and of the fight of Solomon against demons. According to this ideology, there are many amulets which describe King Solomon fighting against a female demon. This idea developed within a Solomonic fringe of Judaism, and is then taken up within some Christian circles, developing into esoteric forms of magical demonology. It is necessary to point out, even in terminology, the fine line between magic and exorcism: in the case of Solomon this border is not entirely clear. It is possible that the development of the topos of Solomon as magician affected the traditions about Jesus. It should be noted that after the closure of the sanctuary of Solomon in Jerusalem, the objects contained in it were moved into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Chiara Crosignani

Philosophical meaning and functions of demons in a Christian context

The aim of my paper is to demonstrate the changes in Christian demonology in the first three Centuries A.D. The Hebrew Philo of Alexandria and some of the Christian authors (Origen above all) aim to discard the fear about demons: in order to do that they use the philosophic notion of daímon, which Philo and Origen are well aware of. Philo only reads the Ancient Testament, where demons are almost never quoted, hence explaining that evil spirits do not exist; however, Christian authors must accept their existence because evil spirits are widely present in the Gospels. My aim is to demonstrate that the most important change in Christian demonology derives from Origen, who explains the nature of demons by rationalizing the demonic system presented by the Gospels and by Paul’s Letters: he makes Christian demonology suitable in the context of Greek philosophy, without denying its Christian features.