Chapter 11 Roman and Byzantine Egypt

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
Jacques van der Vliet
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This chapter surveys constructions of ambiguous and illegitimate ritual in Christian sources from Roman and Byzantine Egypt, looking at monastic, Gnostic, ecclesiastical, and other materials. The chapter turns first to polemical constructions of mageia and pharmakeia as the practices of dangerous ‘others’ (e.g., Origen). Then it moves to a series of internal monastic texts condemning mageia as inappropriate practice for Christians (canons, Shenoute of Atripe). Finally, the chapter turns to literary texts that explore the nature of mageia and pharmakeia or its specialists through dramatic stories.

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