A pagan magical exorcism from the Paris magical codex
From A. Deissmann, Light from the ancient east (1910), pp. 254-260
There is a papyrus book from Egypt written around 300 AD and now in the Bibliothèque Français in Paris, shelfmark Ms. Suppl. gr. 574. It contains spells and prescriptions compiled by a magician. Folio 33 contains the following material, the end of a prescription for an exorcism.
We start on line 2993 of the codex. The subject referred to is a root, which is dug up with certain ceremonies, while a magic spell is pronounced, part of which comes on this page. The daemon is being addressed. Note the paratactic style and the frequent use of "and".
— — — of the depth. But your powers are in the heart of
[Recto, Jewish Text]
For those possessed by daemons, an approved charm by
Take oil made from unripe olives, together with the plant
[Deissman adds:] Good parallels to the Jewish portion of the above text, both as a whole and in details, are furnished by the leaden tablet from Hadrumetum 33 and a magician's outfit discovered at Pergamum.34 Any one who can read this one leaf without getting bewildered by the hocus-pocus of magic words, will admit that through the curious channel of such magical literature a good portion of the religious thought of the Greek Old Testament found its way into the world, and must have already found its way by the time of St. Paul. The men of the great city in Asia Minor in whose hands St. Paul found texts of this kind were, though heathen, not altogether unprepared for Bible things. The flames of the burning papyrus books could not destroy recollections of sacred formulae which retained a locus standi even in the new faith. But, apart from this, the magical books with their grotesque farrago of Eastern and Western religious formulae, afford us striking illustrations of how the religions were elbowing one another as the great turning-point drew near.
1. The Egyptian Sun-bull.
2. Here, I think, one line or more must have dropped out; even by taking ὡς as a preposition we get no good sense.
3. Note the change of subject.
4. I.e. the digger of the root.
5. A magician, cf. Albrecht Dieterich, Jahrbucher fur classische Philologie, 16, Supplementband (1888), p. 756.
6. In these charms we should try to distinguish between meaningless hocus-pocus and words of Semitic (cf. Bibelstudien, p. 1 ff.; Bible Studies, p. 321 ff.) or Egyptian origin, etc., which once had and might still have a meaning. In trying to recover this meaning we must not only employ the resources of modern philology but also take into account the ancient popular and guessing etymologies, of which we have a good number of (Semitic) examples in the Onomastica Sacra. Several of the magical words in this text are Biblical and are explained in the Onomastica Sacra. That the explanations in the Onomastica Sacra were in some cases current among the people, is shown by the Heidelberg papyrus amulet containing Semitic names and Greek explanations (cf. Figure 62, facing p. 415 below).
7. [The seven Greek vowels. The long and short vowels are not shown in this online edition because of transcription difficulties.]
8. The same formula exactly occurs in Luke iv. 35; with ἐκ instead of ἀπό in Mark i. 25, v. 8, ix. 25.
9. I.e. amulet.
10. Cf. James ii. 19, and Bibelstudien, p. 42 f.; Bible Studies, p. 288.
11. The name Jesus as part of the formula can hardly be ancient. It was
probably inserted by some pagan: no Christian, still less a Jew, would have
called Jesus "the god of the Hebrews." [Note to the online text; the name is "Jesus", but Deissmann for some reason writes "Jesu"]
12. The arm of God together with the fire is probably a reminiscence of passages like LXX Isaiah xxvi. 11 and Wisdom xvi. 16.
13. Snow and vapour coming from God, LXX Psalm cxlvii. 5 , cf. also LXX Job xxxviii. 22, 9.
14. ? Dieterich, Abraxas, p. 138, alters it to τανυσθείς.
15. Cf. Tanchuma, Pikkude 3 : Rabbi Jochanan said: "... Know that all the souls which have been since the first Adam and which shall be till the end of the whole world, were created in the six days of creation. They are all in the garden of Eden" (Ferdinand Weber, Judische Theologie auf Grund des Talmud und verwandter Schriften,2 Leipzig, 1897, p. 225).
16. This form [of "Israel"] also suggests the pagan origin of the editor of the Jewish text.
17. See for the facts Exod. xiii. 21. The LXX has pillar of fire, not pillar of light.
18. To obtain complete power over the daemon it is necessary to know his name ; hence the question to the daemon in Mark v. 9 = Luke viii. 30.
19. Solomon's seal is well known in magic; see for instance Dieterich, Abraxas, p. 141 f., Schiirer, Geschichte des Judischen Volkes, III.3 p. 303.
20. I do not know what this refers to. The tradition is probably connected with LXX Jer. i. 6-10.
21. In spite of the resemblance to Phil. ii. 10, Eph. ii. 2, iii. 10, vi. 12, this is not a quotation from St. Paul. The papyrus and St. Paul are both using familiar Jewish categories.
22. This remarkable trio of daemons obviously comes from LXX Gen. xv. 20, Exod. iii. 8, 17, etc., where we find Χετταῖοι (who have become Χερσαῖοι, i.e. " land daemons"), Φερεζαῖοι (who have become the more intelligible " Pharisees"), and Ἰεβουσαῖοι. Χερσαῖοι, which also occurs elsewhere as a designation applied to a daemon (see Wessely's index), has here no doubt the force of an adjective derived from a proper name. Dieterich, Abraxas, p. 139, explains the passage somewhat differently.
23. Noah's generations enumerated in Genesis x. contain the names of 70 peoples; the Jews therefore assumed that there were 70 different languages (Weber,2 p. 66). Our papyrus has 2 x 70 languages—a number not mentioned elsewhere, so far as I know.
24. The use of Cherubin as a singular may perhaps be regarded as another proof that this Jewish formula was written out by a pagan. Cf. Tersteegen's plural form die Seraphinen, resulting from a like misconception of Seraphin as a singular.
25. Mountains is a corruption of bounds, cf. LXX Job xxxviii. 10, and especially LXX Jer. v. 22.
26. Cf. LXX Psalm cxxxiv. [cxxxv.] 21. The form of the name of the city again points to a pagan writer.
27. LXX Lev. vi. 9, 12, 13. The fire is that on the altar of burnt-offering at Jerusalem. As this fire was extinguished for ever in the year 70 A.D., this portion of the papyrus at any rate must have originated before the destruction of Jerusalem.
28. I.e. Gehenna.
29. The translation is not certain.
30. Or " receive."
31. For this formula cf. Luke x. 17, 20; 1 Cor. xiv. 32.
32. These concluding lines again prove that the formula was written out by a pagan magician.
33. Bibelstudien, pp. 21-54; Bible Studies, pp. 269-300.
34. An tikes Zaubergerat aus Pergamon, herausgegeben von Eichard Wunsch. Jahrbuch des Kaiserl. Deutschen Archaolog. Instituts, Erganzungsheft 6, Berlin, 1905, p. 35 f.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2009. This file and all material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using unicode.
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