Magic Bowls: A Key to the World of the Talmud?

Dec. 22 2014

The Babylonian Talmud contains a vast wealth of information about the Jewish society that, from the 3rd to 7th century, produced it, but historians have been confounded in their quest to find evidence outside the Talmud itself. The sole exception consists of inscriptions found on bowls containing “precise, technical formulations to bind demonic forces magically and prevent them from inflicting harm.” Scholars have now published the first of a projected multivolume series of annotated translations of these inscriptions. Meanwhile, Shai Secunda writes, the novelist Maggie Anton has released the first two volumes of a projected three-part work of historical fiction (free registration required):

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: ancient Judaism, Ancient Persia, Babylonian Jewry, Jewish fiction, Magic, Talmud

How the U.S. Can Get Smart about Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in the Middle East

Sept. 27 2021

Considering the current state of the region and the policy mistakes of the recent past, David Pollock and Robert Satloff outline a strategy that is “both virtuous and realistic” for defending human rights and encouraging democratization in a region plagued by autocracy, chaos, and brutality. They argue that “in the long run, more democratic, tolerant, and inclusive governments are likely to be better at defending themselves, and more reliable and effective security partners for the United States.”

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Arab democracy, Human Rights, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy