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Sunday, February 15, 2015

ANNEMARIE LUIJENDIJK, Forbidden Oracles? The Gospel of the Lots of Mary

Forbidden Oracles?
The Gospel of the Lots of Mary

Forbidden Oracles?. The Gospel of the Lots of Mary
2014. XII, 208 pages. STAC 89
ISBN 978-3-16-152859-0
sewn paper € 69.00

In this volume, AnneMarie Luijendijk analyzes a previously unknown text preserved in a fifth- or sixth-century Coptic miniature codex, entitled The Gospel of the Lots of Mary , and places it within the context of practices of and debates about divination in the ancient Mediterranean world. This is the first critical edition and translation of this new text; it is also a project about religious authority and practices.
In the first part of the book, the author investigates the codex, taking into account both its weaving together of biblical allusions and traditional divinatory phrases, its material format as miniature codex with imprints of its use, and mode of operation. The second part consists of the edition of this text, an English translation, and an elaborate textual commentary.
AnneMarie Luijendijk participates in conversations about lived religion and privileged knowledge of the divine or the future. Sortilege—the practice of casting lots to obtain an answer—was widespread in antiquity; it was a method applied in decision-making on all levels of ancient society. As a religious practice, lot divination was also highly contested, as access to these practices and thus to the divine meant control of powers, religiously and socially. The text, replete with biblical phrases but fundamentally materialistic in worldview, disrupts our concepts of what is religious in the ancient world. Luijendijk thus contributes to discussions in the study of religion that question the categories of religion and magic. She also contributes to scholarship on the production and use of books, especially miniature codices.