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Researchers Decode 20-Page Codex to Unveil Ancient, 'Magical' Egyptian Text

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"Spells to cure demonic possession, various ailments, the effects of magic."

Researchers recently deciphered an ancient Egyptian codex that they say revealed spells that have links to Christianity.

"It is a complete 20-page parchment codex, containing the handbook of a ritual practitioner," Malcolm Choat and Iain Gardner, professors at Australian universities, wrote in their book "A Coptic Handbook of Ritual Power," according to Live Science.

The book's description states that the codex comes from the second half of the first millennium AD and "consists of an invocation including both Christian and Gnostic elements, ritual instructions, and a list of twenty-seven spells to cure demonic possession, various ailments, the effects of magic, or to bring success in love and business."

"The codex is not only a substantial new addition to the corpus of magical texts from Egypt, but, in its opening invocation, also provides new evidence for Sethian Gnostic thought in Coptic texts," the book description continued.

Live Science reported that the codex holds references to Jesus, but it noted that more of the invocations seem linked to a sect of early Christianity that considered Adam and Eve's third son, Seth, highly.

"One invocation in the newly deciphered codex calls 'Seth, Seth, the living Christ,'" Live Science reported, noting that Sethians were considered heretics and were "dying out" by the 7th century.

Given this timeframe the researchers said at a conference the codex might be a "transitional document" between Sethian and Orthodox Christian traditions:

The researchers believe that the invocations were originally separate from 27 of the spells in the codex, but later, the invocations and these spells were combined, to form a "single instrument of ritual power," Choat told Live Science in an email.

Choat told Live Science he doesn't believe clergy or monks used the codex but "ritual practitioners [... who were ...] shielded from us by the fact that people didn't really want to be labeled as a 'magician.'"

(H/T: Daily Mail)

Front page image via Shutterstock.

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