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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter investigates the ritual aspect of ancient Eastern Mediterranean divination. Divination is defined as acquisition and transmission of allegedly superhuman knowledge by different means and understood as a cognitive process linking human action with its (presumed) preconditions and its (presumed) effects. The emphasis of the divinatory agency is on the preconditions of the action, not on the effect as in magical agency. Examples from ancient Eastern Mediterranean divinatory practices, especially extispicy and prophecy and the Early Christian lot oracle, are used to demonstrate different facets of the ritual aspect in the acquisition and transmission of allegedly divine knowledge. Divinatory acts are often embedded in a ritual setting, and can sometimes as such be characterized as rituals, sharing important characteristics with the so-called special agent rituals.

Keywords: divination, divinatory agency, extispicy, lot, magic, oracle, prophecy, ritual agency, special agent ritual

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