The Coptic Magical Texts Project
The Coptic Magical Texts Project has been organized in order to study and publish texts of ritual power preserved in Coptic. The Coptologists who are members of the project team have studied such magical texts individually and collaboratively, and the project has stimulated a great deal of interest and activity in the examination of Coptic magical materials.
The Coptic Magical Texts Project joined in supporting two international conferences at which Coptic ritual power was part of the agenda: “Magic in the Ancient World,” August 1992, Lawrence, Kansas; and “Second International Conference on Magic in the Ancient World,” August 1998, Claremont and Orange, California.
The papers of the first conference were published as Ancient Magic and Ritual Power, eds. Marvin Meyer and Paul Mirecki (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 129; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995); the papers of the second conference are currently being edited for publication. The project published a large collection of Coptic magical texts under the title Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power, gen. ed. Marvin Meyer, assoc. Ed. Richard Smith (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994; new ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).
In addition, project director Marvin Meyer published the first edition of a Coptic magical codex, The Magical Book of Mary and the Angels (P. Heid. Inv. Kopt. 685): Text, Translation, and Commentary (Veroffentlichungen aus der Hedelberger Papyrussammlung, n.F., nr. 9; Heidelberg: Universitaetsverlag C. Winter, 1996). Meyer has also published two Institute for Antiquity and Christianity Occasional Papers on Coptic magical texts.
Bael Phoel Thael Throel Thabael Thoel Bachool Thiel
Aroel Afphel Arouoel Samiel Auel Ouel Obmiel
Tharimiel Achel Aaroabdel,
Listen to me, strong angels,
for I invoke you by the Lord, you twenty-four archangels of
the body of Yao Yecha,
that you hearken to me and send to me Athonath Athonath,
that is, Gabriel, the angel of righteousness,
that he come to me and do my work.
Amen, 3 (times).
— from Rossi's "Gnostic" Tractate against the powers of evil
M. Meyer and R. Smith, eds., Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power, 145.
Dr. Marvin Meyer is Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies
Co-Chair, Department of Religious Studies
Director, Albert Schweitzer Institute
Chapman University, Orange, CA 92866