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Grant number: FT-254856-17

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Megan Sarah Nutzman
Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA 23529-0001)

Ritual Cures Among Christians, Jews, and Pagans in Roman and Late-Antique Palestine

Preparation of a book-length study on healing rituals practiced in Roman and late antique Palestine.

My project is the first book-length study to synthesize evidence for the full range of healing rituals practiced in Roman and late antique Palestine. Using literary and archaeological evidence, I identify four sources of ritual power believed to transmit divine cures: holy men, sacred places, performative acts, and amulets. Close cultural contacts enabled pagans, Jews, and Christians to borrow each other's rituals, altering them to fit new cultic frameworks. This project's aggregate nature enables me to challenge the common inclination among historians of Greco-Roman religions to compartmentalize the study of ritual healing according to a putative divide between "magical" and "religious" cures or by focusing on a single cultural or linguistic group. Ultimately, I contribute to two ongoing debates on religious identity by reevaluating the role that ritual healing played in conversion experiences and by using it as a lens to assess the "parting of the ways" between Jews and Christians.

Project fields:
Ancient History; Jewish Studies; Religion, Other

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2017 – 7/31/2017