Papyri help to understand the Greek language: The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament
In what are probably the earliest of his letters that have come down to us, the two Epistles to the Thessalonians, St. Paul finds it necessary to rebuke his converts for walking “in a disorderly manner” (2 Thess 3:11). The word (?τ?κτως), with its cognates, is confined to these Epistles in the New Testament, and what exactly is meant by it is by no means clear at first site. Is St. Paul referring to actual sin or moral disorder, or to something less heinous? The papyri have supplied the answer in a striking manner. Among them is a contract of A.D. 66 [P.Oxy.II 275] in which a father arranges to apprentice his son with a weaver for one year. All the conditions of the contract as regards food and clothing are carefully laid down. Then follows the passage which specially interests us. If there are any days during this period on which the boy “fails to attend” or “plays truant” (oσας δ??? ??ν ?ν το?τω ?τακτ?ση ?μ?ρας), the father has to produce him for an equivalent number of days after the period is over. And the verb which is used to denote playing truant is the same verb which St. Paul uses in connexion with the Thessalonians. This then was their fault. They were idling, playing truant. The Parousia of the Lord seemed to them to be so close at hand that it was unnecessary for them to interest themselves in anything else. Why go to their daily work in the morning, when before night Christ might come, they thought, forgetting that the best way to prepare for that coming was to show themselves active and diligent in the discharge of their daily work and duty.
From Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, showing how the papyri helps us understand better the Greek language. Another example is given on the Logos website.
Graeco-Egyptian Magical Papyri.
The single largest collection of sources for ancient magic, these are documents written on papyrus scrolls in Egypt during the first few centuries of the Common Era. Some are written entirely in Greek, while others are in Egyptian or a mixture of the two. They were apparently the working handbooks of professional magicians.
The most important of the papyri came from a single source, probably in the Egyptian city of Thebes; scholars have speculated that they may have come from the library of an ancient magician-priest. They were obtained by an adventurer at the court of the pasha of Egypt, one Jean d’Anastasi (1780?-1857), who sold them to major European libraries. Most of the papyri were first published in collected form in 1928-1931 by Karl Priesendanz (1883-1968). References to his edition are still the stand way to refer to the papyri and their component spells.
The magic of the papyri is a free mix of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Jewish lore, blended together into a working synthesis of theurgic and thaumaturgic magic. Rituals for spiritual development and the attainment of a guardian spirit sit cheek by jowl with recipes for love potions and spells for invisibility. Many of the rituals, however, are used to bring about a systasis or direct encounter between the magician and a deity or spirit, either for purposes of practical magic or to assist the magician’s spiritual development; in this latter are the historical roots of the Holy Guardian Angel concept so popular in modern magical circles.
Most of the material from the papyri has been neglected by the current magical revival. One ceremony from the papers, known to scholars as PGM V 96-172, and to its original users as “the Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist,” was published by the British scholar Charles Wycliffe Goodwin (1817-1878) in 1853, and entered into the modern magical tradition shortly thereafter as the Bornless One ritual.
- The New Encyclopedia of the Occult