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Gal Sela: The Spell-loosener of Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa (Vat. Ebr. 216, ff. 4-6.)

Mittwoch 08. Februar 2023, 12:00 Uhr - Mittwoch 08. Februar 2023, 14:00 Uhr
My intended postdoctoral research examines the cultural environment in which Judaic canonical text, known as the Babylonian Talmud, was formed and redacted in the Judeo-Persian diaspora in late antiquity and early medieval time. To this end, my research proceeds by comparing and analyzing esoteric and canonical Babylonian textual sources focusing on the Judaic holy man figure, approximately dated between 300 CE and 600 CE.
To this end, the study compares four textual sources retelling the myth of a prominent Jewish holy man called Hanina ben Dosa:(a) stories on Hanina ben Dosa's magical and theurgical abilities within the Babylonian Talmud (e.g., b. Ta'an. 24b‒25a; b. Pes. 112a‒b; b. Yebam. 121b; b. B. Kamma 50a); (b) historiolas written on “Hanina ben Dosa's” Aramaic incantation bowls as a part of magical formulas; (c) apocalyptical and magical text known as “Pishra de-Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa,” (e.g., the Spell-loosener of Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa, Vat. Ebr. 216, ff. 4-6.); (d) and a story sequence from the Cairo Genizah collection dedicated to Hanina ben Dosa's struggle with demons (Oxf. Heb D47, 36a‒b). All sources indicate that demonic entities, angels, holy men, and holy sages played a significant role in the cosmological and theurgical perception of the Judeo-Persian congregations.
Mostly written in Jewish-Aramaic, the manuscript of the “Spell-loosener of Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa,“ roughly dated to the Sasanian Empire at approximately 500 CE, is nowadays preserved in the Vatican Library (Vat. Ebr 216, ff. 4-6). Unfortunately, there is only one critical addition transcribing this important manuscript, attesting to Jewish beliefs and praxis in Sasanian Babylonia, which was published by Franco Michelini Tocci in 1986, accompanied by an Italian commentary and glossary. However, according to Tocci, the manuscript he transcribed is faulty, and additional philological work is needed. Shortly, I will visit the Vatican Library to examine, copy and study the manuscript. My talk will present the current transcription of the “Spell-loosener,” accompanied by a new English translation. As it is a work in progress, I will share my initial findings from my visit to the Vatican Library.


Centre for Advanced Studies Beyond Canon_

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Meeting-ID: 668 6918 6409






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