Jerome's Life of Hilarion and the pseudo-Clementine Clement romance depict youthful Christians (or spiritual seekers not yet converted) seduced into the demonic sorceries of Egyptian priests. Another response to the great diversity of popular Egyptian ritual practices might be found in Athanasius' Life of Anthony. Anthony expels demons, heals and delivers blessings solely through the sign of the cross, in contrast to the more complex bricolages of ritual substances and spells associated with 'magic': 'I, Abrasax, shall deliver. Abrasax am I! Abrasax abrasichou, help little Sophia-Priskilla. Get hold of and do away with what comes to little Sophia-Priskilla, whether it is a shivering fit - get hold of it! Whether a phantom - get hold of it! Whether a daimon -get hold of it! . . .'9

Egyptian religion might thus be repudiated in its ritualforms, cast as sorcery, as inferior piety, as demon-worship. Yet, as we know from the numerous Christian amulets prepared in late antiquity on papyrus and leather, the techniques of signifying Christian power as something concrete and efficacious quite often involved just such expert bricolages as temple priests had constructed in earlier times:

At the moment that N. child of N. will be anointed with this oil, you must take away from him all sicknesses and all illnesses and all magic and all potions and all mishaps and all pains and all male spirits and all female spirits . .. Let them all be dispelled through the power of Eloie Elemas Sabaoth Abaktani Abanael Naflo AKRAMACHAMARI, and the power of the one who has come down upon the altar on the 29th of Choiak, and the one who has come down upon the waters of the Jordan as a dove. He must come upon N. to protect him from all evil. Rule over N., who seals it. Apa Anoup has sealed this oil. Michael is the one who intercedes. Jesus Christ is the one who gives healing to N., that he may be renewed in his whole body, like the tree of life that is in the middle of paradise, all the days of his life, yea yea, at once, at once!'10

Thus Shenoute, also an opponent of'magic', could complain quite explicitly in the fifth century about a 'great monk' who was fashioning amulets out of fox claws, crocodile teeth and snakes' heads, and about church elders dispensing sacred oil and water.11 Here we begin to see how religious competition with Egyptian religion often came down to the ritual ingenuity of monks, shrine attendants, priests and scribes - those representing Christian authority in the landscape - with their maverick power-bundles. Through these experts' everyday efforts the Egyptian gods of ritual power Horus, Isis, Thoth and

9 P. Lund. Univ. Bibl. IV.12, inv. 32; trans. in H. Betz, ed., Greek magical papyri, 302.

10 Berlin kopt. 11347; trans. in M. Meyer and R. Smith, eds., Ancient Christian magic, 117-19.

11 Shenoute, 'Acephalous work' A14 (ed. Orlandi, 18-21).

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