Beware the Evil Eye: The Evil Eye in the Bible and the Ancient World (Volume 3: The Bible and Related Sources)

By John H. Elliott

The third in a four-volume series exploring belief in the Evil Eye and the practices associated with it amongst the cultures of the Biblical world.

ISBN: 9780227176672


In the third volume of his epic exploration of the use of the Evil Eye motif in ancient texts, John H. Elliott turns his attention to biblical writings. A repeated theme in the Old Testament, which contains around twenty explicit references in fourteen text segments, mentions of the Evil Eye also appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as the writings of Philo and Josephus. Evil Eye belief and practice continued into the early Jesus movement, appearing not only in the Gospels but in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The Evil Eye in the ancient world acted in a number of ways – physiological, psychological, economic, social and moral – and the place it occupied was not easily usurped. Beware the Evil Eye is a phenomenal analysis of one of the most prevalent superstitions in the ancient world and its cultural influence.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

John H. Elliott is Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco. He is the author of Conflict, Community, and Honor (2007).



1. The Old Testament, Parabiblical Literature, and Related Material Evidence Concerning the Evil Eye
     The Matrix of Biblical Evil Eye Belief and Behavior
     Hebrew and Greek Old Testaments
          Hebrew and Greek Evil Eye Terminology
          The Latin Terminology of Jerome’s Vulgate
          Original Languages and Translations
          The Old Testament Evil Eye Texts
          A Good Eye
     Israel’s Parabiblical Literature
          Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament
          The Dead Sea Scrolls
          Philo of Alexandria
          Flavius Josephus
     Anti-Evil Eye Apotropaics in Israel: The Material Evidence

2. The New Testament Concerning the Evil Eye
     The Evil Eye Sayings of Jesus
          The Evil Eye Saying in the Q Sayings Source (Q11:34-35)
          The Evil Eye Saying in Matthew 6:22-23 and Luke 11:33-36
          The Evil Eye Saying in Matthew 20:1-15/16
          The Evil Eye in Mark 7:22
     Paul, Galatians, and Evil Eye Accusations
          Witchcraft, Witchcraft Societies, and the Evil Eye
          Paul’s Letter to the Galatians
     Implicit References to the Evil Eye in the New Testament?
     Evil Eye Belief and Practice in the New Testament – Conclusion
     Evil Eye Belief and Practice in the Bible – Conclusion
          Differences and Distinctive Biblical Emphases
          The Various Capacities of Evil Eye Belief
          Approaching the Biblical World



Endorsements and Reviews

Few phenomena so sharply differentiate the world of the Bible from the cultures of North America and northern Europe as belief in the Evil Eye that was prevalent everywhere. In this, the third volume of his long-awaited and magisterial treatment of the subject, Elliott, in a project without scholarly precedent, illuminates the many Old and New Testament texts where Evil Eye belief appears. This book is destined to become a classic of biblical scholarship.
Philip Esler, Portland Professor in New Testament Studies, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham

Elliott’s richly illustrated analysis of the Evil Eye in the Bible and related texts provides background and detailed interpretation of key texts. Often obscured by sanitised translations or misrecognition, Elliott finds the trope pervasive in the Bible though consistently linked to an ethics of generosity and solidarity versus envy, rather than to the fear of demons as elsewhere. A fascinating and convincing read, this is an essential reference work for biblical scholars and Bible translators.
Jonathan A. Draper, Fellow and Emeritus Professor of New Testament, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, the University of KwaZulu-Natal

This delightful volume is full of insights and source materials. Readers are indebted to Elliott for crafting a careful and insightful presence and use in the bible and related sources.
Timothy Hein, in The Expository Times, Vol 129, No 11