Wednesday, September 03, 2014

An Amulet Referring to the Last Supper in John Rylands Library

The Daily Mail reports today (September 3rd, 2014) that Dr. Roberta Mazza, Research Fellow of the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester, recently made a significant re-discovery in the vaults of John Rylands Library. She found a papyrus amulet from Egypt dated to the sixth century. The apotropaic text was written on re-cycled papyrus (traces of a grain tax receipt have been identified on the reverse side with multispectral imaging). The amulet contains biblical passages from Psalm 78:23-24 and Matthew 26:28-30 and others. The text includes:
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 news story claims that this is the first example of an amulet referring to the Christian Eucharist in the context of (apotropaic) magic, which I assume is correct. However, several other statements are erroneous (as usual when things get in the media), for example:
The papyrus contains some of the earliest documented references to The Last Supper.
It is also one of the first recorded documents to use magic in the Christian context.
Some Christians still use passages from the Bible as protective charms, so the amulet marks the beginning of a trend in Christianity [my italics].
An image of the amulet is available here.

1 comment

  1. Hmm. This text might explain the reference in the Quran about Jesus presenting a table, etc.