• Coptic Amulets,  Coptic Magic

    Coptic Amulets IV: Jesus Christ, give healing, quickly, quickly!

    This week’s post takes a deep dive into another healing amulet from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts. This tall thin sheet of parchment, 30.5cm in height but only 4.5cm in width, was filled with an applied text, a text with the name of its client written upon it. The amulet was produced to protect a man named Mina, son of Euprepri and Zoe, from all manner of illnesses through the names and powers of Jesus Christ. Although dated by its first editor, Viktor Stegemann, to the 5th century CE, some of the ways certain words in the text are spelled suggest it could be later. The photograph of…

  • Coptic Amulets

    Coptic Amulets III: Take fever away from Thōthphe, the son of Giōrōgia!

    This week’s post takes a deep dive into another example of a healing amulet from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts: Vienna, Nationalbibliothek K 08637 is a sheet of parchment, cut into a rough rectangle measuring 10cm by 8cm. 7 or 8 horizontal creases suggest that this sheet was folded multiple times, or rolled and then squashed. The text’s eight lines of text and two lines of characters (magical signs) were inscribed upon the flesh side of the parchment, the inward-facing side of the skin, while the hair side, which would have faced outwards, was left blank. This parchment was edited by Viktor Stegemann in 1934, but since then…

  • Religion in the Coptic Magical Papyri

    Religion in the Coptic Magical Papyri VIII: The Bible and Magic

    In our first post on Christianity in magic, we discussed AMS 9, a large book filled with amuletic texts. Among these were the first verses (incipits) of five texts from the Bible – the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and Psalm 90 (Western Psalm 91). As we noted then, these were intended to be copied onto smaller objects and worn as a way to protect the body from sickness, demonic attacks, and misfortune. This week, we’ll discuss the use of the Bible in “magical” practice in a little more detail. This discussion will draw extensively upon a recently published study of such practices, Scriptural Incipits on Amulets from…

  • Religion in the Coptic Magical Papyri

    Religion in the Magical Papyri VI: Christianity and Magic

    In our previous posts we have discussed “pagan” and “gnostic” influences in Coptic language magic, so readers would be forgiven for thinking that all such texts are full of Greek, Egyptian and Sethian deities. The bulk of our manuscripts, however, date to between the fifth and eleventh centuries CE, a period for most of which the majority of Egyptians were, at least nominally, adherents to some form of orthodox Christianity. Christianity was the dominant worldview, and the magical texts therefore reflect this, and seem to adhere to some kind of Christianity, even if they are not always strictly orthodox. But what does this “Christian magic” look like? AMS 9 is…