Religion in the Coptic Magical Papyri VII: Monks and Magic
We do indeed have several texts which seem to come from monasteries or monastic cells, although many more have no clear provenance, and, as we saw in the case of the ancient town of Kellis, there are some Coptic magical texts which we know were not produced or used by monks. This week, though, we will look at one of the best attested instances of a monk practicing magic, the fascinating case of Phoibammon of Naqlun.Religion in the Coptic Magical Papyri VIII: The Bible and Magic
Using scriptural texts as amulets was therefore a way of drawing the sacred power of the Bible into the lives of individual Christians. While they might not be able to afford a copy of the Gospels in their entirety, they could wear their first lines as a way of warding off evil and misfortune. This use of sacred texts was not uniquely Christian – we have evidence of Greek speakers in Egypt using passages from Homer in amulets and other magical contexts, while evidence from the Dead Sea scrolls and Cairo Genizah shows that Jewish communities were using the Psalms as a form of protection from evil spirits before Christianity began, and continued to do so even after Christians appropriated their scriptures. Indeed, since the first Christians came from the Jewish community, it is likely that the amuletic use of scripture among Christians was at least partly inspired by its use in Judaism. The most common Psalm found in amulets, Psalm 90, is the same one which we often find in Jewish contexts.Also, did you know that Shenoute once punched Nestorius for disrespecting the Bible?
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.