The Devil Within: Possession & Exorcism in the Christian West

Brian Levack, Author
Brian Levack. Yale Univ., $35 (352p) ISBN 978-0-300-11472-0
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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Exorcism. Once thought to be a relic of our superstitious past, a popular novel and movie gave it new contemporary life, creating a strong interest in demon possession and the means with which the church confronts the horror. In this riveting, readable study, Levack (The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe), a history professor at the University of Texas, Austin, offers readers a comprehensive view of reports of demon possession and efforts to rid victims of it. Focusing on the years leading up to and including 17th century Europe, a period the author cites as "the golden age of the demoniac," readers come away from this book amazed at the extent to which demon possession permeated a deeply superstitious Europe. Both individuals and groups were affected by the curse. And while the role of exorcist is sufficiently well known in Catholic circles, readers will be surprised at how common they were in Protestant societies. This is must-reading for students of history, psychology and religion. (Apr.)
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