- Hardcover: 407 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins,Australia (15 Jun. 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006065578X
- ISBN-13: 978-0060655785
- Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.2 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,298,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power Hardcover – 15 Jun 1994
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The authors make a grand tour of Western philosophy, theology, and ethics. They provide brilliant analyses of pertinent thinkers, including Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Kant, Rousseau... The writing is fluid and engaging... Library Journal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
"This book is a treasure-trove of material illustrating folk beliefs and practices of a people in Egypt spanning more than a thousand years."--Birger A. Pearson, University of California, Berkeley
"An excellent collection of magical texts.... I teach my students that there is no strict dividing line between magic and religion, even in Christianity, and this is a vital sourcebook to make this truth a reality for them."--Kurt Rudolph, Philipps Universitat, Marburg, and author of Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism
"This book is well organized and exceedingly well edited. There are helpful introductions to each chapter and, even more, to each selection.... [It] could scarcely be more user friendly for lay readers.... There exists nothing like it, at least nothing so accessible to nonexperts."--Robert Segal, Lancaster University, editor of The Gnostic Jung--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In particular, the Coptic Christians, who were concentrated mostly in Egypt, spreading (as all Christians were wont to do) throughout the Roman and non-Roman world from a centre not too far from Alexandria, one of the major cities of the world of the time. The Coptics never really died out, but always remained a strange Christian aberration from orthodoxy on the fringes of East and West. The texts contained in 'Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power', by Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith, come from these people.
These texts contain the whole slate of magical utterances -- rites, spells, amulets, curses, recipes. The magical practices contained herein include a spell for protection against headless powers, an invocation to a thundering power to perform every wish (shades of the 'Prayer of Jabez' here), an amulet to protect against the mischief of evil spirits, and even an erotic spell for a ma to obtain a male lover (lest we think that modern controversies in the church have no historical bases or parallels).Read more ›
And I needed the second more than I needed the first.
It's an interesting read, with prayers people wrote about their problems. In short, things haven't changed much.
For the magically inclined out there, it does have some worth (more to Christian Magicians than Wicca but the ideas are there). For the sociologists, it's a treasure trove of how we used to be.
For those who just want an interesting coffee table book for the next month, it's just about right.
Or not so ancient, since the translated texts are from the Roman period, or the Early Middle Ages. The real shocker is that the magic is...wait for it...Christian. Or at least nominally Christian. In reality, the magical papyri included in this volume are a syncretistic blend of Christianity, Judaism, Gnosticism and good old fashioned Egyptian paganism. Osiris, Isis, Anubis and the inevitable mummies are featured alongside Abraxas, Yao, Jesus, Gabriel, and what have you.
Some of the spells and incantations are quite humorous. One is a homosexual love spell! We also learn that the magician is supposed to write his spells on a piece of papyrus, visit a rock tomb at midnight, and place the papyrus in the mouth of a corpse. Please stay clear of the jackals! The book also includes an extended version of the apocryphal correspondence between Jesus and king Abgar of Edessa.
Still, the volume feels a bit disappointing. The introductions deal mostly with the issue of whether "religion" and "magic" are really two different things, or why the phrase "ritual power" is better than "magic". Yawn. I'm sure this is very interesting...to assistant professors at some sleepy comparative religion department. Personally, I would have appreciated a longer essay on the syncretism. How are we to interpret this blend of Christian, pagan and "heretical" elements?
But above all we want to know: CAN THE MUMMY REALLY WALK?
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