You never know what you’re going to find tucked away in the archives of a university library! Such is the case of a fascinating discovery that was made by Dr. Roberta Mazza in 2014 at the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library. The object in question is a 1,500 year old grain tax receipt that was written on an old piece of papyrus. The interesting part is what is written on the back of this receipt: protective words that would have been kept inside a locket or pendant and used as an amulet to protect the wearer against danger. Here’s the translation of the text:
“‘Fear you all who rule over the earth. Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God. For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies. Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.”
The reason why this is so interesting is that it reinforces the theory that early Christians adopted the Pagan practices of early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans who wore similar amulets. The only difference is that Christians used Bible passages and the like as the magical words of the charm. Regarding its significance, Dr. Mazaa said, “This is an important and unexpected discovery as it’s one of the first recorded documents to use magic in the Christian context and the first charm ever found to refer to the Eucharist – the last supper – as the manna of the Old Testament.”
Needless to say, I find this discovery both fascinating and encouraging. There have always been magical people among those who followed Jesus and this document can be added to a body of evidence that supports this theory.
In you’re interested, here are the links to the full article: