This essay evaluates Egyptian hagiography as a historical source by defining its function in the construction of a Christian landscape. To this purpose, it discusses the Bohairic Martyrdom of Saint James the Persian, shifting attitudes towards the burial of monastic saints, Coptic stories about temple conversions, and contending Christian and Muslim traditions concerning the Holy Family in Egypt.
This chapter examines Coptic ritual texts, the history of their study, and the mechanics of the rituals themselves. Closely reviewing over a dozen texts, the chapter analyzes their “marked” character – their difference from everyday speech and writing – and the textual strategies that are used to achieve specific ritual goals. The chapter concludes by noting the critical questions that this corpus presents, from the diversity of the rituals themselves to the burden of magic/religion dichotomies.
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.