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The Signifying CreatorNontextual Sources of Meaning in Ancient Judaism$
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Michael D. Swartz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740934

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740934.001.0001

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Divination and Its Discontents

Divination and Its Discontents

(p.55) 4 Divination and Its Discontents
The Signifying Creator

Michael D. Swartz

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on divination traditions in ancient Judaism, as well as how some of the ancient rabbis dealt with those traditions and what these implied about the word and divine will. These divinatory procedures rely on what the modern world calls chance; but different cultures and generations have varying approaches to the problem of chance. These conceptions can be clarified by highlighting some modern approaches to chance operations, how they differ with premodern approaches, and the problems they both share. Diviners sought to tune in to messages encoded in the sequence of things by creating highly formalized technologies that they claimed were available to only a few and yet accessible to all who would patronize them. The disciplines they created, like modern chance operations, sought to subsume the individual will to a larger force, in this case, the divine will.

Keywords:   divination, ancient Judaism, chance operations, diviners, individual will, divine will

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