Sunday, 10 February 2019

Margaret M Mitchell: John Chrysostom Creates Christian Magical Handbooks: Two Case Studies

This paper examines two cases where John Chrysostom seeks, via his words, to create imaginative and competing forms of Christian magic or magical handbooks to replace those that are already in broad circulation. In the first case (hom. in 1 Cor 7:2[in illud, propter fornicationes uxorem]) he tries to transform the words of Paul in 1 Cor 7:2-4 into an apotropaic talisman against porneia and the powerful love magic practiced by the porne against the married man. In the second (Homilia in Acta Apostolorum 38.4-5), while telling an anecdote from his youth about finding a magical handbook in the Orontes river (and miraculously escaping detection and detention for its possession, which was illegal), John instructs his congregants to create mental magical handbooks of divine benefactions that will address some of the same maladies that the spells contained in magical handbooks were explicitly designed to heal, such as fever, loss of voice, rheumatic eyes, and the “octopus in the nose.”

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