Ancient Christian Magic
Coptic Texts of Ritual Power
Edited by Marvin W. Meyer & Richard Smith
With a new afterword by the editors
This thought-provoking collection of magical texts from ancient Egypt shows the exotic rituals, esoteric healing practices, and incantatory and supernatural dimensions that flowered in early Christianity. These remarkable Christian magical texts include curses, spells of protection from "headless powers" and evil spirits, spells invoking thunderous powers, descriptions of fire baptism, and even recipes from a magical "cookbook." Virtually all the texts are by Coptic Christians, and they date from about the 1st-12th centuries of the common era, with the majority from late antiquity. By placing these rarely seen texts in historical context and discussing their significance, the authors explore the place of healing, prayer, miracles, and magic in the early Christian experience, and expand our understanding of Christianity and Gnosticism as a vital folk religion.
Marvin W. Meyer is Professor of Religion at Chapman University and director of the Coptic Magical Texts Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity. Richard Smith teaches at Claremont Graduate School and was managing editor of The Nag Hammadi Library (revised edition).