• Podcast

    Podcast #12: Talking Ancient Magic with David Frankfurter

    In this episode, the well-known scholar of ancient Mediterranean religion David Frankfurter not only introduces the into the basic questions concerning magic in the ancient world, but also shares his memories of magic studies during their revival in the 1990’s. David Frankfurter specializes in Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature, magical texts, popular religion, and Egypt in the Roman and late antique periods. Frankfurter’s particular interests revolve around theoretical issues like the place of magic in religion, the relationship of religion and violence, the nature of Christianization, and the representation of evil in culture. David Frankfurter earned his bachelor degree in Religion from Wesleyan University, master of theological studies degree from…

  • Podcast

    Podcast #10: Greek and Egyptian deities in Coptic magical texts with Roxanne Bélanger Sarrazin

    In this podcast episode, we are discussing Greek and Egyptian deities appearing in Coptic magical texts, which are predominantly Christian. How is it possible that one encounters Artemis and Jesus in the very same text (BNF Suppl. Grec. 1340)? And Isis and Horus in many others at the time when Christianity was predominant in Egypt? Roxanne Bélanger Sarrazin, our guest for this podcast episode, helps us to understand how such mixing of various traditions was possible and what shape this tendency took. Roxanne Bélanger Sarrazin defended a thesis on this topic, appearing later this year as part of the Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta series (Peeters). Roxanne Bélanger Sarrazin has obtained a…

  • Podcast

    Podcast #8: Praise of the Archangel Michael – A Case Study

    This episode was created to celebrate the new edition of the “Praise of the Archangel Michael” (P. Heid. Inv. Kopt. 686), produced by the Coptic Magical Project, a prayer written on a parchment codex in Coptic and dated to the 10th century CE. The text is unique, as it is one of the longest magical texts, and it provides many details on the cosmology of Egyptian Christians of that era who were using and producing the magical text. In the first part of the podcast, the text is presented and this is followed by an interview with Korshi Dosoo who clarifies various aspects of the prayer (5:02). Next, you’ll hear the…

  • Podcast

    Podcast #1: Coptic Magic with Jacques van der Vliet

    In the first podcast episode, created by the Coptic Magical Papyri project based at the University of Würzburg, Germany, we discuss ancient magic with professor Jacques van der Vliet of the University of Leiden, an expert on Coptic manuscripts, Gnosticism and ancient magic. Who was the ancient magician? What were his magical practices? You can listen to our podcast here, or you can find it on Spotify, Stitcher and Podcast Addict. Our podcast will be coming soon on iTunes as well. A link to the podcast is also on the sidebar, on the right.

  • Coptic Curses

    Coptic Curses III: “You will shatter the face of so-and-so!”

    This week’s post takes a deep dive into a curse from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts, by returning to a manuscript already discussed in a previous post: P. Heidelberg inv. Kopt. 681 is a sheet of parchment, cut into a long rectangle measuring 29.5cm by 10.9cm. As introduced in the post Coptic Amulets II: Sending an angel to give grace, this sheet is a formulary – a manuscript containing one or more spell(s) with formulas to be filled in, rather than an activated text – containing the name of the person who would benefit from, or be cursed by, the spell. The flesh side of the parchment, the…

  • Coptic Curses

    Coptic Curses II: Flaccid, Limp, and Lying like a Corpse

    This week’s post takes another deep dive into one example of a curse from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts. Chicago, Oriental Institute Museum E13767 is a sheet of paper cut into a rectangle that measures 6cm in height by 16 in width. One horizontal crease suggests that it was folded vertically only once, while 15 vertical creases suggest it was folded multiple times, or rolled and squashed into a small package of only about 3cm in height and 1cm in width. Bought from a private collection for the Oriental Institute Museum in 1929, it is unfortunately unknown where the manuscript was found. The handwriting of this text suggests…

  • Coptic Amulets

    Coptic Amulets I: A Healing Amulet to Save Ahmed from Cold and Fire

    This week’s post takes a deep dive into one example of a healing amulet from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts: P. Heidelberg inv. Kopt. 544b is a sheet of parchment, cut into a rough rectangle measuring 7.3cm by 6.5cm. This sheet was folded seven times horizontally and twice vertically, producing a tight package of c.1.1cm by c.2.5cm. As we will see, the text itself suggests that this package was to be worn by the client, Ahmed. The text’s 19 lines 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. The…

  • Coptic Curses

    Coptic Curses I: Finding a Bowl, Damning a Thief!

    This week’s post takes a deep dive into one example of a curse from Kyprianos, our database of Coptic magical texts: Vienna, Nationalbibliothek K 08304 Pap is a sheet of paper that is roughly square, measuring 7.3cm by 7cm. This square appears to have been folded once horizontally and once vertically, producing a smaller package of 3.6 by 3.5cm. First published by Viktor Stegemann in 1934, who dated the handwriting on this sheet of paper to the 10th or 11th century CE, a translation of this curse appeared more recently in the collection of translations of Coptic Texts of Ritual Power by Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith, where it was…

  • Old Coptic Magic

    Old Coptic Magical Texts IV: The Bilingual Exorcism of PGM IV

    This post is the fourth in a mini-series about bilingual recipes in Egyptian and Greek from the 3rd/4th century papyrus codex PGM IV (Greek Magical Papyrus 4) – the “Bilingual Exorcism” (PGM IV. 1227-1264). This practice is written upon pages 28 and 29 of the codex and departs considerably from the other practices in this mini-series because it seems to derive from a Judaeo-Christian, rather than Pharaonic or Graeco-Egyptian, cultural context. This composite recipe features ritual instructions and invocations in the Greek language, as well as one section written in the Egyptian-Coptic language that makes use of an innovative Old Coptic script. Unlike the other Egyptian-Coptic language sections of the…