Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-564cf476b6-s5ssh Total loading time: 0.368 Render date: 2021-06-18T17:47:16.520Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true }

Christian Magicians, Jewish Magical Idioms, and the Shared Magical Culture of Late Antiquity*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2017

Ra‘anan Boustan
University of California, Los Angeles
Joseph E. Sanzo
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München


Some time in the late-fifth or early-sixth century CE, a ritual practitioner—operating in the environs of Oxyrhynchus, Egypt—created a protective amulet that reads, “Hôr, Hôr, Phôr, Elôei, Adônai, Iaô, Sabaôth, Michaêl, Jesus Christ. Help us and this house. Amen” (Ὡρ, Ὡρ, Φωρ, Ἐλωεί, Ἀδωναί, Ἰάω, Σαβαώθ, Μιχαήλ, Ἰεσοῦ Χριστέ· Βοήθι ἡμῖν καὶ τούτῳ οἴκῳ. ἀμήν). Each of the names used in the first part of this amulet, known as P.Oxy. VIII 1152 (=PGM P6a), is familiar from other ritual objects from late antiquity (approx. fourth to seventh centuries CE). But the juxtaposition of these divine names on a single amulet presents us with a puzzle: did the ritual expert who created this artifact or his client perceive there to be a difference, tension, or even contradiction between Jesus Christ and the other names listed? Or, alternatively, would they have conceptualized all of these names as belonging equally within what they would have thought of as the “Christian tradition” or some other tradition?

Copyright © President and Fellows of Harvard College 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.



The authors would like to thank Adam Becker, Henry Gruber, Chrysi Kotsifou, Yonatan Moss, Shira Lander, Eirini Panou, Tamar Pataridze, and the anonymous HTR reviewers for their useful comments on this article. Of course, the authors are responsible for any remaining infelicities of style or errors of substance. Joseph E. Sanzo would also like to thank the faculty and staff of the Center for the Study of Christianity at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, especially Professor Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, for their support during the 2013–2015 academic years. Abbreviations: PGM = Karl Preisendanz, ed., Papyri Graecae Magicae: Die griechischen Zauberpapyri (rev. ed. A. Henrichs; 2 vols.; Stuttgart: K. G. Saur Verlag GmbH & Co., 1973); ACM = Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith, ed., Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999). For all other abbreviations of artifacts, see Duke University, “Checklist of Editions of Greek, Latin, Demotic, and Coptic Papyri, Ostraca and Tablets,” 1 June 2011, Translations haven been taken from ACM unless otherwise stated.


1 In addition to the numerous amulets and spells that refer to Jesus and the archangel Michael, a group of amulets that invoke the “Artemisian scorpion” also utilize Hôr, Hôr, Phôr, Elôei, Adônai, Iaô, Sabaôth in various configurations (P.Oxy. VII 1060; P.Oxy. XVI 2061; P.Oxy. XVI 2062; P.Oxy. XVI 2063; and P.Oslo I.5). For a discussion of these amulets as part of a larger treatment of the “scorpion” motif in late antique Egypt, see Todd, Marcus, “The Scorpion in Graeco-Roman Egypt,” JEA 25 (1939) 5561 Google Scholar.

2 We deploy the term “magic” in full recognition of the problems associated with its use as an independent lexeme. For our purposes, the term is intended merely as a convenient way to talk about a loose body of artifacts and texts, but without prejudging their relationship to other spheres of social existence (e.g., religion and science). For an overview of these issues within the study of early Christianity, see Aune, David, “‘Magic’ in Early Christianity and Its Ancient Mediterranean Context: A Survey of Some Recent Scholarship,” ASE 24 (2007) 229–94Google Scholar.

3 Hunt, Arthur S., “1152. Christian Amulet,” in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (ed. Hunt, Arthur S.; 80 vols.; London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1911)Google Scholar 8:253.

4 de Bruyn, Theodore S. and Dijkstra, Jitse H. F., “Greek Amulets and Formularies from Egypt Containing Christian Elements: A Checklist of Papyri, Parchments, Ostraka, and Tablets,” BASP 48 (2011) 163216 Google Scholar, at 181–82.

5 See Shaked, Shaul, “Jesus in the Magic Bowls: Apropos Dan Levene's ‘. . . and by the name of Jesus . . .,’JSQ 6 (1999) 309–19Google Scholar, at 315–16.

6 On this point, see already Sanzo, Joseph E., Scriptural Incipits on Amulets from Late Antique Egypt: Text, Typology, and Theory (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014) 1014 Google Scholar.

7 We build upon the work of those scholars who have stressed the interpenetration of Jewish and Christian ideas and expressive forms throughout late antiquity, a trend exemplified by Schäfer, Peter, The Jewish Jesus: How Christianity and Judaism Shaped Each Other (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Becker, Adam H. and Reed, Annette Yoshiko, eds., The Ways That Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003 Google Scholar; repr., Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007); and Boyarin, Daniel, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 Even those studies that draw heavily on archaeological and art historical evidence to explore the fluidity of Christian and Jewish identities in late antiquity rarely integrate “magical” sources into their account. A notable exception is the excellent study by Rebillard, Éric, Christians and their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200–450 CE (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012) 7175 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, though here, too, the evidence for so-called “magical” practice is primarily filtered through the writings of Augustine and other episcopal elites. It should be noted that, by contrasting “magical” discourse and “elite” discourse, we by no means intend to downplay the important role of local elites (e.g., monks and other scribes) in the manufacture or use of amulets and the like. Instead, our point is to emphasize the great extent to which patristic authors (and rabbis) have shaped scholarly conceptions of what constituted appropriate “Christian” (or “Jewish”) language in late antiquity. For the role of monks and other local specialists in the creation of magical artifacts, see especially Frankfurter, David, “Dynamics of Ritual Expertise in Antiquity and Beyond: Towards a New Taxonomy of ‘Magicians,’” in Magic and Ritual in the Ancient World (ed. Mirecki, Paul A. and Meyer, Marvin W.; Leiden: Brill, 2002) 159–78Google Scholar, at 167–70; Brakke, David, Demons and the Making of the Monk (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006) 226–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 On the “coefficient of weirdness,” see especially Malinowski, Bronisław, Coral Gardens and the Their Magic: A Study of the Methods of Tilling the Soil and of Agricultural Rites in the Trobriand Islands (2 vols.; London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1935)Google Scholar 2:218–25. For the applicability of the “coefficient of weirdness” to objects from antiquity, see Frankfurter, David, “Fetus Magic and Sorcery Fears in Roman Egypt,” GRBS 46 (2006) 3762 Google Scholar, at 52–55; Wilburn, Andrew T., Materia Magica: The Archaeology of Magic in Roman Egypt, Cyprus, and Spain (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2012) 1213 Google Scholar.

10 See, for instance, Brashear, William, “The Greek Magical Papyri: An Introduction and Survey; Annotated Bibliography (1928–1994),” in ANRW II.18.5 (ed. Haase, Wolfgang; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1995) 3380–684Google Scholar, at 3422–29.

11 See especially Smith, Morton, “The Jewish Elements in the Magical Papyri,” in Studies in the Cult of Yahweh (ed. Cohen, Shaye J. D.; 2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1996) 2 Google Scholar:242–56. See also Nock, Arthur Darby, “Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman World by Erwin R. Goodenough,” Gnomon 27 (1955) 558–72Google Scholar, at 570. More recently, Giancarlo Lacerenza has claimed that the use of divine or angelic names like “Sona'el,” “Abraoth,” and “Iao” on an amulet from the Christian catacombs of Naples “clearly displays Jewish connotations” (“Jewish Magicians and Christian Clients in Late Antiquity: The Testimony of Amulets and Inscriptions,” in What Athens has to do with Jerusalem: Essays on Classical, Jewish, and Early Christian Archaeology in Honor of Gideon Foerster [ed. Leonard V. Rutgers; Leuven: Peeters, 2002] 396–419, at 411). Lacerenza, however, does not provide any evidence suggesting that the practitioner who authored this amulet viewed these elements—which, to be sure, have Semitic origins—as “Jewish.”

12 Said, Edward, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978)Google Scholar; see also Bhabha, Homi K., The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994)Google Scholar.

13 Pratt, Mary-Louise, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (2nd ed.; London: Routledge, 2008) 3 Google Scholar.

14 Fitzgerald, Timothy, The Ideology of Religious Studies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) 3 Google Scholar; Styers, Randall, Making Magic: Religion, Magic, & Science in the Modern World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) 814 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The emphasis on the imposition from the outside is not to deny the possibility of “stereotype appropriation,” by which a subaltern group embraces its exoticized persona. For discussion of this phenomenon as it relates to ritual specialization in late antique Egypt, see Frankfurter, David, Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998) 224–37Google Scholar; Dieleman, Jacco, Priests, Tongues, and Rites: The London-Leiden Magical Manuscripts and Translation in Egyptian Ritual (100-300 CE) (Leiden: Brill, 2005) 910 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 287.

15 Walker, Alicia, The Emperor and the World: Exotic Elements and the Imaging of Middle Byzantine Imperial Power, Ninth to Thirteenth Centuries C.E. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) xx CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 Ibid.


17 Ibid.


18 Ibid.


19 For a similar argument, see also Collins, Andrew W., “The Royal Costume and Insignia of Alexander the Great,” AJP 133 (2012) 371402 Google Scholar.

20 Walker, Emperor and the World, xiii.

21 The terms “syncretism” and “syncretistic” are frequently invoked in scholarship on ancient magic. See, e.g., the use of these terms as analytical categories for discussing “national” elements and influences in the now classic Bonner, Campbell, Studies in Magical Amulets (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1950) 2242 Google Scholar. For more recent use, see the influential statements in Betz, Hans Dieter, “Introduction to the Greek Magical Papyri,” in The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation Including the Demotic Spells (ed. Betz, Hans Dieter; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986) xlilii Google Scholar, at xlv–xlvi; Brashear, “The Greek Magical Papyri,” 3422. In the context of the study of the New Testament, see Arnold, Clinton E., The Colossian Syncretism: The Interface between Christianity and Folk Belief at Colossae (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996) 1131 Google Scholar.

22 Shaw, Rosalind and Stewart, Charles, “Introduction: Problematizing Syncretism,” in Syncretism/Anti-Syncretism: The Politics of Religious Synthesis (ed. Stewart, Charles and Shaw, Rosalind; London: Routledge, 1994) 126 Google Scholar.

23 Robert Baird, for instance, famously included syncretism in a chapter titled, “Some Inadequate Categories” in his Category Formation and the History of Religions (Hague: Mouton, 1971) 126–54. For various perspectives on the heuristic utility of the category syncretism, see the essays in William Cassidy, ed., “Retrofitting Syncretism?” Historical Reflections 27 (2001) 365–507.

24 Frankfurter, David, “Syncretism and the Holy Man in Late Antique Egypt,” JECS 11 (2003) 339–85Google Scholar.

25 Concerning “Christian magic,” Lacerenza likewise states, “[t]he difficulty in finding ‘purely Christian’ magic is due to the fact that Christian magicians seem to have been particularly interested in appropriating foreign spiritual codes and techniques” (Lacerenza, “Jewish Magicians and Christian Clients,” 405).

26 See also Shaw and Stewart, “Introduction”; Michael Pye, “Syncretism versus Synthesis,” MTSR 6 (1994) 217–29; Kraft, Siv Ellen, “‘To Mix or Not to Mix’: Syncretism/Anti-Syncretism in the History of Theosophy,” Numen 49 (2002) 142–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27 On the relationship of magic to the institutionalized and authoritative religious traditions of the ancient world, see Frankfurter, David, “The Great, the Little, and the Authoritative Tradition in Magic of the Ancient World,” ARG 16 (2014) 1130 Google Scholar.

28 Pye, “Syncretism versus Synthesis,” 222.

29 See especially Bohak, Gideon, Ancient Jewish Magic: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) 196209 Google Scholar; idem, “Hebrew, Hebrew Everywhere? Notes on the Interpretation of Voces Magicae,” in Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (ed. Scott Noegel, Joel Walker, and Brannon M. Wheeler; University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003) 69–82; also Gager, John, Moses in Greco-Roman Paganism (New York: Abingdon Press, 1972) 135–36Google Scholar.

30 LiDonnici, Lynn, “‘According to the Jews:’ Identified (and Identifying) ‘Jewish’ Elements in the Greek Magical Papyri ,” in Heavenly Tablets: Interpretation, Identity and Tradition in Ancient Judaism (ed. LiDonnici, Lynn and Lieber, Andrea; Leiden: Brill, 2007) 87108 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 Hay, Jonathan, “Editorial: Toward a Theory of the Intercultural,” Res 35 (1999) 59 Google Scholar, at 6 [italics added].

32 Walker hints at this point when she notes that “indigenous” and “foreign” cultures “were themselves the products of hybrid combinations that were in constant reformulation” (Walker, Emperor and the World, xx).

33 See, e.g., Fredriksen, Paula, “What Parting of the Ways? Jews and Gentiles in the Ancient Mediterranean City,” in The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (ed. Becker, Adam and Yoshiko Reed, Annette; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003 Google Scholar; repr., Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007) 35–63; Lieu, Judith, “Self-Definition vis-à-vis the Jewish Matrix,” in The Cambridge History of Christianity (ed. Mitchell, Margaret M. and Young, Francis; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) 214–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The boundaries between Jews and Christians continued to be hotly contested throughout late antiquity on various social, symbolic, and political registers. On this point, see Sanzo, Joseph E. and Boustan, Ra‘anan, “Mediterranean Jews in a Christianizing Empire,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila (ed. Maas, Michael; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014) 358–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34 Gideon Bohak uses a model taken from Immigration and Naturalization Services to describe such crossings in Jewish magic; see Bohak, Ancient Jewish Magic, 229–30.

35 For prudent discussion of the relevant sources, see ibid., 314–22.

36 The identification of at least some practitioners as “Christian” is supported by the use of Christian idioms, such as Trinitarian invocations, biblical citations, and excerpts from the Christian liturgy, on numerous amulets and spells from late antiquity. For collections of such artifacts, see de Bruyn and Dijkstra, “Greek Amulets”; Theodore de Bruyn, “Papyri, Parchments, Ostraca, and Tablets Written with Biblical Texts in Greek and Used as Amulets: A Preliminary List,” in Early Christian Manuscripts: Examples of Applied Method and Approach (ed. Thomas J. Kraus and Tobias Nicklas; Leiden: Brill, 2010) 145–90; idem, “The Use of the Sanctus in Christian Greek Papyrus Amulets,” in Papers Presented at the Fourteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies Held in Oxford 2003: Liturgia et Cultus, Theologica et Philosophica, Critica et Philologica, Nachleben, First Two Centuries (ed. Mark J. Edwards, Francis Margaret Young, and Paul M. Parvis; StPatr vol. XL; Leuven: Peeters, 2006) 15–20. On the use of onomastics to determine the Christian affiliation of the client, see Shandruk, Walter, “Christian Use of Magic in Late Antique Egypt,” JECS 20 (2012) 3157 Google Scholar.

37 See, e.g., PGM P15b; PGM P14; PGM P21; ACM 4; ACM 59; ACM 61; ACM 62; ACM 63; ACM 64; ACM 66; ACM 68; ACM 70; ACM 71.

38 On supersessionist discourse in early Christian literature, see, e.g., Wilson, Stephen G., Related Strangers: Jews and Christians 70–170 C. E. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004) 110–42Google Scholar.

39 This idiomatic overlap makes it difficult in some cases to determine whether an amulet reflects a “Jewish” or “Christian” magical tradition; see Bohak, Ancient Jewish Magic, 212–14.

40 Kropp, A., Ausgewählte koptische Zaubertexte (3 vols.; Brussels: Édition de la Fondation égyptologique Reine Élisabeth, 1930–1931)Google Scholar 1:47–50 (J); 2:57–62 (XV).

41 For an analysis of the use of biblical traditions on this spell, see Sanzo, Joseph E., “Innovation and Authoritative Traditions for Ritual Power: The Crucifixion of Jesus on Brit. Lib. Or. 6796(4), 6796 as a Test Case,” ARG 16 (2014) 6798 Google Scholar.

42 Translation adapted from ACM 132. For Barbaraôth (and cognates), see PGM III.633–731; PGM IV.88–93; PGM IV.930–1114; PGM V.54–69.

43 We thus disagree with the interpretation of Jarl Fossum in “Sects and Movements,” in The Samaritans (ed. Alan David Crown; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1989) 293–389, which argues that Israêl Êl is a distinct angel in this spell (370). But, crucially, this same ritual specialist uses a similar formula in another spell (ACM 131): “I invoke you today, send to me from heaven the prayer of Koutha Iaô, god of the Hebrews, who is described in the heavens as Alamouri Malamouri.” In what is either the same spell as or an appended spell to this latter one (Brit. Lib. Or. 6796 [1r], l. 4), the practitioner refers to Jesus again as “the god of Israel” ( ).

44 The names Iaô and Sabaôth appear independent of one another in the Nag Hammadi codices. For Iaô, see NHC II, 1.11.30; 12.20; II, 5.101.15, 29. For Sabaôth, see NHC II, 1.10.34; 11.31; II, 4.95.14, 23; II, 5.101.30; 103.32; 104.6, 19, 26; 106.20, 25; 107.5; 113.12; 114.16; 122.23; III, 2.58.15; IV, 1.26.19; IX, 3.73.30. For a recent analysis of Iaô (and derivative expressions) in Greek and Coptic magical texts, see Fauth, Wolfgang, Jao-Jahwe und seine Engel: Jahwe-Appellationen und zugehörige Engelnamen in griechischen und koptischen Zaubertexten (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014)Google Scholar.

45 Compare the London Hay “Cookbook” (=ACM 127), a 6th- or 7th-cent. CE collection of spells also presumably written and/or collected by a self-identifying “Christian,” which likewise names Jesus's Father Iaô Sabaôth–using a variant spelling of this name. The text reads, “[I adjure] you by the great, true name of the father, whose name is Aio Sabaôth.”

46 A similar situation presents itself for Prague 1 (=ACM 36), an artifact for success, which reads: “I invoke you, O god almighty, who is above every ruler and authority and lordship and every name that is named, who is enthroned above the cherubim before you, through our lord Jesus Christ, the beloved child. Send [out] to me, O master, your [holy] archangels, who stand opposite your holy altar and are appointed for your holy services, Gabriêl, Michaêl, Raphaêl, Saruêl, Raguêl, Nuriêl, Anaêl. And let them accompany me today, during all the hours of day and night, and grant me victories, favor, good luck with N., success with all people, small and great, whom I may encounter today, during all the hours of day and night. For I have before me Jesus Christ, who attends me and accompanies me; behind me Iaô Sabaôth Adô[nai]; on my right and [left] the god of Ab[raham, Isaac, and Jacob]; over [my] face [and] my heart Ga[briêl, Michaêl], Raphaêl, Saruêl, [Raguêl], Nuriêl, Anaêl: [Protect] me from every [demon, male or female, and from] every stratagem and from every name, for I am sheltered under the wings of the cherubim. O Jesus Christ, you king of all the aeons, almighty, inexpressibly a creator, nurturer, master, almighty, noble child, kindly son, my unutterable and inexpressible name, truly true form, unseen [for] ever and ever, Amen! By the saints remember me, pray for me; I am without strength.”

47 See now Moriggi, Marco, “Jewish Divorce Formulae in Syriac Incantation Bowls,” Aramaic Studies 13 (2015) 8294 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; also Shaked, Shaul, “The Poetics of Spells: Language and Structure in Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity, 1: The Divorce Formula and its Ramifications,” in Mesopotamian Magic: Textual, Historical, and Interpretative Perspectives (ed. Abusch, Tzvi and van der Toorn, Karel; Groningen: Styx, 1999) 173–95Google Scholar, especially his discussion of the Syriac exemplars at 176 n. 17 and 184 n. 41. It should be noted that there are also examples of Mandaic bowls that likewise employ the divorce formula. See Hunter, Erica C. D., “Combat and Conflict in Incantation Bowls: Studies on Two Aramaic Specimens from Nippur,” in Studia Aramaica: New Sources and New Approaches (ed. Geller, M. J., Greenfield, J. C., and Weitzman, M. P.; Oxford: Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of Manchester, 1995) 6175 Google Scholar.

48 In addition to the foundational discussion in Shaked, “The Poetics of Spells,” see also Bohak, Gideon and Levene, Dan, “Divorcing Liliths: From the Babylonian Incantation Bowls to the Cairo Genizah,” JJS 63 (2012) 198217 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 209; and Levene, Dan, “‘A Happy Thought of the Magicians’: The Magical Get ,” in Shlomo: Studies in Epigraphy, Iconography, History and Archaeology in Honor of Shlomo Moussaief (ed. Deutsch, Robert; Tel Aviv: Archaeological Center Publications, 2003) 175–84Google Scholar.

49 See m. Avot 1:6. For discussion of the structure and names in the list in chapter 1 of the tractate, see Tropper, Amram, Wisdom, Politics, and Historiography: Tractate Avot in the Context of the Graeco-Roman Near East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) 4041 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

50 The translation is taken from Moriggi, Marco, A Corpus of Syriac Incantation Bowls: Syriac Magical Texts from Late-Antique Mesopotamia (Leiden: Brill, 2013) 37 Google Scholar (bowl no. 4); ed. princ. Montgomery, James A., Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur (Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1913)CrossRefGoogle Scholar no. 32. For parallel bowls, see Moriggi, Corpus of Syriac Incantation Bowls, 43–45 (no. 5), 150–53 (no. 31), 163–64 (no. 34), and 185–88 (no. 41). Compare also the Mandaic bowl Louvre A.O. 2629, ed. princ. M. Lidzbarski, Ephemeris für semitische Epigraphik I (Giessen, 1902) 103–5 (Text V), discussed in Hunter, “Combat and Conflict,” 61–75.

51 The nomenclature used here is “Rabbi” ( ), although the parallel bowls employ “Rab” ( ).

52 (Rabbi) Joshua bar Peraḥya is the human authority who is most closely linked to the establishment and efficacy of this practice in both the Jewish and the non-Jewish bowls. He is explicitly mentioned in sub-groups A and C in Shaked's typology; see Shaked, “Poetics of Spells,” 176–77 and 183–84.

53 On the use of this term in the Syriac bowls, see the comments in Moriggi, Corpus of Syriac Incantation Bowls, 39; also the relevant entry in Ciancaglini, Claudia A., Iranian Loanwords in Syriac (Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2008) 153 Google Scholar.

54 See Moriggi, “Jewish Divorce Formulae,” 85–91, which concludes that it seems to be only Shaked's type A that was adopted in the Syriac bowls. For the synoptic comparison of CBS 16086 (=Moriggi's bowl 4) with three Jewish Aramaic parallels, see especially Levene, Dan, A Corpus of Magic Bowls: Incantation Texts in Jewish Aramaic from Late Antiquity (repr. ed.; London: Routledge, 2009) 3537 Google Scholar, who likewise concluded that “the source is indeed Jewish” (38).

55 On the close link between the Syriac script and Christian communities, see Shaked, Shaul, “Manichaean Incantation Bowls in Syriac,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 24 (2000) 5892 Google Scholar, at 59–60. It should be stressed that the designation of the script as “Manichaean” is on purely paleographic grounds and that this term should not be taken as an indicator of the scribes’ religious affiliation. For in-depth discussion of the history and significance of the application of the label “Manichaean” to the script used in a subset of the Syriac bowls, see Moriggi, Corpus of Syriac Incantation Bowls, 14–19.

56 Shaked, “Poetics of Spells,” 176 n. 17.

57 See especially Morony, Michael G., “Magic and Society in Late Sasanian Iraq,” in Prayer, Magic, and the Stars in the Ancient and Late Antique World (ed. Noegel, Scott, Walker, Joel, and Wheeler, Brannon M.; University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003) 83107 Google Scholar, at 94–95, who builds upon the synthetic assessment in Harviainen, Tapani, “Pagan Incantations in Aramaic Magic Bowls,” in Studia Aramaica: New Sources and New Approaches (ed. Geller, M. J., Greenfield, J. C., and Weitzman, M. P.; Oxford: Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of Manchester, 1995) 5360 Google Scholar; idem, “Syncretistic and Confessional Features in the Mesopotamian Incantation Bowls,” Studia Orientalia 70 (1993) 29–37.

58 See b. Sanh 107b; cf. b. Sota 47b.

59 For discussion of the Bavli traditions about Joshua bar Peraḥya and Jesus in the wider context of the Jewish and Christian magical bowls, see Schäfer, Peter, Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008) 3440 Google Scholar.

60 Shaked, “Manichaean Incantation Bowls in Syriac,” 60.

61 The clearest and most well known example is the relatively late Targum Proverbs, which is an almost word-for-word version of the Syriac Peshitta. For brief discussion and relevant scholarship, see Flesher, Paul V. M. and Chilton, Bruce, The Targums: A Critical Introduction (Leiden: Brill, 2011) 259–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

62 See Cameron, Averil, “Jews and Heretics–A Category Error?” in The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antique and the Early Middle Ages (ed. Becker, Adam and Yoshiko Reed, Annette; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003 Google Scholar; repr., Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007) 345–60; Brakke, David, “Jewish Flesh and Christian Spirit in Athanasius of Alexandria,” JECS 9 (2001) 453–81Google Scholar. That at least some late antique ritual experts were familiar with contemporary constructs of orthodoxy is suggested by the several amulets that utilize creeds and other symbolic markers of Christian orthodoxy (e.g., Suppl.Mag. 23, Suppl.Mag. 31, and PGM P16).

63 See, most recently, Jacobs, Andrew S., Christ Circumcised: A Study in Early Christian History and Difference (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

64 Ed. princ. Maltomini, Franco, “Cristo all'Eufrate P. Heid.G.1101: Amuleto cristiano,” ZPE 48 (1982) 149–70Google Scholar.

65 Lacerenza, “Jewish Magicians and Christian Clients,” 407, claims that such –êl endings “were created in order to lend a more reliable Semitic or Jewish habitus to the text.”

66 Translation adapted from Suppl.Mag. 32.

67 For the possible sources behind this historiola, see Maltomini, “Cristo all'Eufrate P. Heid.G.1101,” 152–56; Gianfranco Fiaccadori, “Cristo all'Eufrate (P. Heid. G. 1101, 8 ss.),” La parola del passato 41 (1986) 59–63; Mazza, Roberta, “P.Oxy. XI, 1384: Medicina, rituali di guarigione e Cristianesimi nell'Egitto tardoantico,” ASE 24 (2007) 437–62Google Scholar, at 444–45.

68 Sanzo, Joseph E., “‘For our Lord was pursued by the Jews . . . ’: The (Ab)Use of the Motif of ‘Jewish’ Violence against Jesus on a Greek Amulet (P. Heid. 1101),” in One in Christ Jesus: Essays on Early Christianity and “All that Jazz,” in Honor of S. Scott Bartchy (ed. Matson, David and Richardson, K. C.; Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014) 8698 Google Scholar, at 95–96.

69 καὶ γὰρ ἤκουσα ὅτι Ἰουδαῖοι καταγογγύζουσί σου καὶ βούλονται κακῶσαί σε (Hist. eccl. I. xiii. 8). Translation taken from Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, Books I–V (trans. Kirsopp Lake; LCL 153; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001) 89.

70 [κ] [ου]σα ὅτι Ἰαουδεοι κ [ταγο] ζ υζίν σọυ κ[αὶ διώ] ου ί ε βουλόμενοί σ[ε ἀπο] τ[εῖναι]. While this version is otherwise unattested, it does have affinities with the Syriac tradition of the same letter; see Franco Maltomini, “4469. Letter of Abgar to Jesus [Amulet],” in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (ed. M. W. Haslam, et al.; 80 vols.; London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1998) 65:122–29, at 124.

71 Ed. princ. Pleyte, Willem and Art Boeser, Pieter Adrian, Manuscrits coptes du Musée d'antiquités des Pays-Bas à Leide (Leiden: Brill, 1897) 441–79Google Scholar.

72 In his translation of this artifact in ACM 134, Richard Smith misinterpreted the title at the end of the Prayer and Exorcism of Gregory as the title for the following text, thus identifying the untitled text as “The Prayer of Saint Gregory.” We are grateful to Jacques van der Vliet for drawing this error to our attention.

73 In 3r, ll. 16–17, only Michaêl, Gabriêl, Raphaêl, and Uriêl are mentioned. In the untitled text (9v, ll. 14–15), the archangels Michaêl, Gabriêl, Raphaêl, Uriêl, Sedekiêl, Anaêl, Setêl, Azaêl are invoked. On the use of ( ) in 14r, l. 1 (as part of a citation of The Prayer of Judas Cyriacus), see Fauth, Wolfgang, “Auf den Spuren des biblischen ‘Azazel (Lev 16): Einige Residuen der Gestalt oder des Names in jüdisch-aramäischen, griechischen, koptischen, äthiopischen, syrischen und mandäischen Texten,” ZAW 110 (1998) 514–34Google Scholar, at 517.

74 E.g., Jesus's heavenly Father is referred to as “the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob” (4r, ll. 5–8). For discussion of this divine epithet, see Rist, Martin, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: A Liturgical and Magical Formula,” JBL 57 (1938) 289303 Google Scholar. In addition, the citation of the Prayer of Judas Cyriacus praises God as follows: “For you are the king of Israel and the salvation of the world and Jerusalem, for ever and ever. Amen” (15r, ll. 17–21).

75 This theme is also highlighted in ACM 51, an 11th-cent. CE amulet designed to heal and protect a certain Poulpehepus from fever. In lines 15–21, the text reads: “through the name and the nails that were driven into (?) the body of Manuel, our Nuel, our god on the cross, by the Jews.” For the ed. princ., see Alcock, Anthony, “A Coptic Magical Text,” BASP 19 (1982) 97103 Google Scholar.

76 See, e.g., John Chrysostom, Adv. Jud. 1.2.1–2. On the comparison of Jews with dogs in the Middle Ages, see Stow, Kenneth, Jewish Dogs: An Image and Its Interpreters (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

77 Ed. princ. Grenfell, Bernard P. and Hunt, Arthur S., “924. Gnostic Charm,” in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (ed. Grenfell, Bernard P. and Hunt, Arthur S.; 80 vols.; London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1908) 6 Google Scholar:289–90.

78 For this more inclusive meaning of πίστις on amulets and prayers from late antique Egypt, see Maravela, Anastasia, “Christians Praying in a Graeco-Egyptian Context: Intimations of Christian Identity in Greek Papyrus Prayers,” in Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (ed. Hvalvik, Reidar and Sandness, Karl Olav; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014) 291323 Google Scholar, at 299.

79 Frankfurter, David, “Narrating Power: The Theory and Practice of the Magical Historiola in Ritual Spells,” in Ancient Magic and Ritual Power (ed. Meyer, Marvin and Mirecki, Paul; Leiden: Brill, 1995) 457–76Google Scholar, at 467.

80 On this point, see Sanzo, “For our Lord,” 94.

81 See, for instance, Stander, H. F., “Amulets and the Church Fathers,” Ekklesiastikos Pharos 75 (1993) 5566 Google Scholar.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Christian Magicians, Jewish Magical Idioms, and the Shared Magical Culture of Late Antiquity*
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Christian Magicians, Jewish Magical Idioms, and the Shared Magical Culture of Late Antiquity*
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Christian Magicians, Jewish Magical Idioms, and the Shared Magical Culture of Late Antiquity*
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *