Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power

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9780060655846: Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power

This provocative collection of rites, spells, amulets, curses, and recipes of the early Coptic Christians documents Christianity as a living folk religion resembling other popular belief systems - something quite different from what theo-logical and doctrinal traditions have led us to believe. Like The Nag Hammadi Library, this extraordinary collection of little known incantatory texts radically alters our perception of Christianity as primarily a highly theological and orthodox tradition. These texts and illustrations show that the folk practices of the earliest Christians are quite similar to the day-to-day beliefs and rituals of spirituality that imbue indigenous primal religions and popular religion generally. Placing these previously unknown ancient texts in historical context and explaining their significance, Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith also reveal the place of healing, prayer, miracles, and magic in the Christian teaching practice. Illustrated with line drawings and photographs from the original ancient documents and containing a plethora of rituals, curses, and spells, Ancient Christian Magic is the practical and liturgical companion to the narrative and theological texts of The Nag Hammadi Library.

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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 Universität, 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

About the Author:

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).

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