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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 3, 2015

The Innovative Use of Biblical Traditions for Ritual Power: The Crucifixion of Jesus on a Coptic Exorcistic Spell (Brit. Lib. Or. 6796[4], 6796) as a Test Case

Joseph E. Sanzo


In this paper, I explore the creative use of biblical traditions in so-called “magical” texts through a detailed analysis of the crucifixion tradition on Brit. Lib. Or. 6796(4), 6796, a seventh-century CE spell for exorcism. I examine three overlapping ways in which the practitioner interacts with the crucifixion story: selection and arrangement of pre-existing traditions; invention of new elements of the story; and the juxtaposition of word and image. I then reflect on the implications of the crucifixion tradition in this spell for analyzing the relationship between biblical traditions and metonymy in “magical” texts, more generally.

Published Online: 2015-11-3
Published in Print: 2015-11-13

© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston