A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power

Finally published from Brepols is Malcolm Choat and Iain Gardner’s critical edition of P. Macquarie 1, appropriately titled A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power. I have yet to see the final edition for myself, but I have perused a draft, and my impression was that it is a strong study indeed of an early medieval Coptic grimoire. The thorough introduction and commentary highlight the importance of the grimoire for students of Graeco-Egyptian magic as well as Gnosticism, since it seems to draw upon traditions known in other Coptic magical papyri (published by Kropp, in his famous edition of selected Coptic magical texts), as well as the (Barbeloite) Sethianism chiefly attested in the Nag Hammadi codices. This edition thus promises to contribute substantially to our understanding of both Graeco-Egyptian magic, as well as Gnostic traditions in general.

The publisher’s blurb:

This volume publishes a new Coptic handbook of ritual power, comprising a complete 20 page parchment codex from the second half of the first millennium AD. It consists of an invocation including both Christian and Gnostic elements, ritual instructions, and a list of twenty-seven spells to cure demonic possession, various ailments, the effects of magic, or to bring success in love and business. The codex is not only a substantial new addition to the corpus of magical texts from Egypt, but, in its opening invocation, also provides new evidence for Sethian Gnostic thought in Coptic texts.

A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power is the first volume in the series The Macquarie Papyri, which will publish the papyri in the collection of the Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia).

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