Thursday, December 03, 2015

A Christian Amulet Containing Colossians 3:9–10 (Wayment)

Thomas Wayment has an article in the latest issue of Vigiliae Christianae (69.5) giving the editio princeps of a small papyrus containing Col 3:9–10 which he dates to the IV/V century.


Photo: Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UC 32070

Wayment’s reconstruction:

ἀπεκδυσάμενοι τ̣[ὸν παλαιὸν ἄν(θρωπ)ον σὺν]
ταῖς πράξ̣εσιν αὐτο̣[ῡ καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν]
νέον ἀνακαινο[ύμενον εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κατ’]
εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσα[ντος αὐτόν

The only new variant he notes is the omission of the article before ἀνακαινο[ύμενον. Also note the nomen sacrum posited for ἄν(θρωπ)ον which is also found here in Alexandrinus. Importantly, if Wayment is right to classify this as an amulet, then it’s the first one with any text of Colossians (or Paul?). He suggests it served as a reminder of the wearer’s Christian baptism. The reverse side contains a writing exercise published by D. Montserrat in BASP 29 (1992): 81–84.

Full article here.


  1. "Amulet" does not seem to be particularly warranted in this case. Of course it is a convenient available category, but there is no positive evidence for allocating this fragment to that category. Although Thomas Wayment appeals to the catalogue of de Bruyn and Dijkstra, I doubt this would fall into their category of certain amulets. It would be preferable to say that we have insufficient evidence to determine the purpose and usage of this fragment, which could have been used as an amulet (but lacks specific indications of this), or as a note or excerpt.

    1. Besides size, what positive evidence would you look for? Just holes and fold marks?

    2. de Bruyn & Dijkstra:
      "The characteristics used to identify texts included in the checklist can be summarized in two categories: (a) elements that are typically found in charms and spells, and (b) elements that were or were likely to have been Christian. The former include adjurations or petitions, esoteric words (voces magicae) or signs (χαρακτῆρες), letters or words arranged in shapes, strings of vowels, short narratives that relate events associated with the divine world to the matter at hand (historiolae), and phraseology often found in charms and spells. The latter include nomina sacra (abbreviations of certain names found in Christian manuscripts); crosses, staurograms, or christograms; letters or cryptograms often used in a Christian context (such as α and ω or χμγ); trinitarian, christological, marian, and hagiographical references; acclamations or sequences from the Christian liturgy; quotations and allusions from Christian canonical and apocryphal scriptures; and Christian narratives or historiolae. "

  2. Texts from Paul are not common in amulets, but not completely absent. A primary resource is: T.S. de Bruyn & H.F. Dijkstra, “Greek Amulets and Formularies from Egypt Containing Christian Elements,” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011) 163-216 (online here:;view=image)

  3. Is anything else good to read on this subject?

  4. You could try my discussion in ‘Additional Greek Witnesses to the New Testament (Ostraca, Amulets, Inscriptions, and Other Sources)’ in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis. Second Edition (eds M.W. Holmes & B.D. Ehrman; NTTSD 42; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2012), 429-460 (