More on Jesus in the Greek Magical Papyri

Further to my post last week, I thought that people might like to see the texts.  I think that they were published long ago in Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, but this is not before me.  Instead let’s quote from a very useful modern collection of the magical texts.  The bits in bold and italics are rubrics in the manuscript.  I don’t guarantee that I have transcribed the strings of nonsense words exactly, however.

PGM IV. 1227-64.[1]

Excellent rite for driving out daimons: Formula to be spoken over his head: Place olive branches before him, and stand behind him and say: “Hail, God of Abraham; hail, God of Isaac; hail, God of Jacob; Jesus Chrestos, the Holy Spirit, the Son of the Father, who is above the Seven, who is within the Seven. Bring Iao Sabaoth; may your power issue forth from him, NN, until you drive away this unclean daimon Satan, who is in him. I conjure you, daimon, whoever you are, by this god, SABARBARBATHIOTH SABARBARBATHIOUTH SABARBARBATHIONETH SABARBARBAPHAI. Come out, daimon, whoever you are, and stay away from him, NN, now, now; immediately, immediately. Come out, daimon, since I bind you with unbreakable adamantine fetters, and I deliver you into the black chaos in perdition.”

Preparation: take 7 olive branches; for six of them tie together the two ends of each one, but for the remaining one use it like a whip as you utter the conjuration. Keep it secret; it is proven.

After driving out the daimon, hang around him, NN, a phylactery, which the patient puts on after the expulsion of the daimon –a phylactery with these things [written] on a tin metal leaf: ” BOR PHOR PHORBA PHOR PHORBA BES CHARIN BAUBO TE PHOR BORPHORBA PHORBABOR BAPHORBA PHABRAIE PHARBA PHARBA PHORPHOR PHORBA BOPHOR PHORBA PHORPHOR PHORBA BOBORBORBA PAMPHORBA PHORPHOR PHORBA, protect him, NN.” But another version has a phylactery on which this sign occurs: @

*Tr: M. W. Meyer. This Greek and Coptic exorcistic spell is discussed by Tamboruino, RGVVVII 3, 9; 10. For additional literature, see Preisendanz, PGM vol. I, 114 and idem, APF 8 (1927) : 115. 

Is it me, or is there something of an attempt by the translator and the editor to disassociate this from Jesus Christ?  It seems clear enough that the latter is meant here, however.  Later in the same volume is another spell which mentions Jesus.

PGM IV. 3007-86.[2]

A tested charm of Pibechis for those possessed by daimons: Take oil of unripe olives with the herb mastigia and the fruit pulp of the lotus, and boil them with colorless marjoram while saying, “IOEL SARTHIOMI EMORI THEOCHIPSOITH SITHEMEOCH SOTHE IOE MIMIPSOTHIOOPH PHERSOTHI AEEIOYO IOE EO CHARI PHTHA, come out from NN” (add the usual). The phylactery:On a tin lamella write “IAEO ABRAOTH IOCH PHTHA MESENPSIN IAO PHEOCH IAEO CHARSOK,” and hang it on the patient. It is terrifying to every daimon, a thing he fears. After placing [the patient] opposite [to you], conjure. This is the conjuration: “I conjure you by the god of the Hebrews, Jesus, IABA IAE ABRAOTH AIA THOTH ELE ELO AEO IIIBAECH ABARMAS IABARAOU ABELBEL LONA ABRA MAROIA BRAKION, who appears in fire, who is in the midst of land, snow, and fog, TANNETIS; let your angel, the implacable, descend and let him assign the daimon flying around this form, which god formed in his holy paradise, because I pray to the holy god, [calling] upon AMMON IPSENTANCHO (formula). I conjure you, LABRIA IAKOUTH ABLANATHANALBA AKRAMM (formula) AOTH IATHABATHRA CHACHTHABRATHA CHAMYN CHEL ABROOTH OUABRASILOTH HALLELOU IELOSAI IAEL . I conjure you by the one who appeared to Osrael in a shining pillar and a cloud by day, who saved his people from the Pharaoh and brought upon Pharaoh the ten plagues because of his disobedience. I conjure you, every daimonic spirit, to tell whatever sort you may be, because I conjure you by the seal which Solomon placed on the tongue of Jeremiah, and he told. You also tell whatever sort you may be, heavenly or aerial, whether terrestrial or subterranean, or netherworldly or Ebousacus or Cherseus or Pharisaeus, tell whatever sort you may be, because I conjure you by god, light-bearing, unconquerable, who knows what is in the heart of every living being, the one who formed of dust the race of humans, the one who, after bringing them out from obscurity, packs together the clouds, waters the earth with rain and blesses its fruit, [the one] whom every heavenly power of angels and of archangels praises. I conjure you by the great god SABAOTH, through whom the Jordan River drew back and the Red Sea, which Israel crossed, became impassable, because I conjure you by the one who introduced the one hundred forty languages and distributed them by his own command. I conjure you by the one who burned up the stubborn giants with lightning, whom the heaven of heavens praises, whom the wings of the cherubim praise. I conjure you by the one who put the mountains around the sea [or] a wall of sand and commanded the sea not to overflow. The abyss obeyed; and you obey, every daimonic spirit, because I conjure you by the one who causes the four winds to move together from the holy aions, [the] skylike, sealike, cloudlike, light-bringing, unconquerable [one]. I conjure [you] by the one in holy Jerusalem, before whom the unquenchable fire bums for all time, with his holy name, IAEOBAPHRENEMOUN (formula), the one before whom the fiery Gehenna trembles, flames surround, iron bursts asunder and every mountain is afraid from its foundation.  I conjure you, every daimonic spirit, by the one who oversees the earth and makes its foundations tremble, [the one] who made all things which are not into that which is.”

And I adjure you, the one who receives this conjuration, not to eat pork, and every spirit and daimon, whatever sort it may be, will be subject to you. And while conjuring, blow once, blowing air from the tips of the feet up to the face, and it will be assigned. Keep yourself pure, for this charm is Hebraic and is preserved among pure men.

*Tr.: W. C. Grese.

The biblical connections are given squarely here, although “daimon” grates — the spell-writer surely means “demon”, just as the New Testament does. 

The editor adds:

On the peculiar epithet “Jesus the god of the Hebrews,” see Reitzenstein, Poimandres14, nn. 1-2; Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East 260, n. 4; Knox, “Jewish Liturgical Exorcism,” 193-94; H. Chadwick, Origen, Contra Celsum(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2 1965) 210 (on c. Cels. 4. 34); Smith, Jesus the Magician113; A. A. Rarb, ‘Three Elusive Amulets,” JWCI 27 (1964) : 7-9. Cf.  PGM XXIIb. 18. 

A few things to look at in that, but perhaps another time.  Note that PGM XXIIb, line 18 merely is another Jewish charm, this time invoking “O Lord God of the Hebrews”.  It is curious to see “God of the Hebrews” capitalized, but not “Jesus the god of the Hebrews”.  But since Dr Betz was a “Professor of New Testament” and the translators both held the title of “Professor of Religion”, perhaps it merely indicates the emotional climate in US universities at the time.

  1. [1]H. D. Betz (ed), The Greek Magical Papyri in translation, Chicago, 1986, p.62.
  2. [2]H. D. Betz (ed), The Greek Magical Papyri in translation, Chicago, 1986, p.96.

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