This research unit considers the different interpretations of malevolent figures such as demons and monsters as seen in ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, and Biblical material. It aims to understand how such liminal beings were represented in these different, though connected, contexts, and how they were characterized in both textual and artistic depictions. Demons and other supernatural beings were often constructed in the negative: created and defined through measures that could be taken to protect against them or exorcize them from an afflicted individual. The ways in which such figures could be fought or expelled, as well as the qualities that defined a number of benevolent supernatural figures that worked to oppose their malevolence, speaks to their important, but often fluid and shifting, roles in each context and culture. This research unit will consider the wide nature and variety of malevolent figures that may be found among these connected contexts in the ancient and biblical world, and in doing so, examine how their identification and classification informs the societies creating them. It particularly invites research that addresses the demonic beings as cultural constructions, and examines them through anthropological and sociological means.
Ancient Near East, Biblical and Related Texts, Demons, Ritual, Exorcism, Magic