Papyri Graecae Magicae

Background of Graece Magicae Papyri

A set of ancient manuscripts commonly referred to as the Papyri Graecae Magicae was purchased in Egypt in A.D. 1827. The authors are unknown. This collection of papyri dates from the second century B.C. to the fifth century A.D.  The papyri are excerpts and fragments documenting magical spells, mystical knowledge and occult secrets.

Graece Magicae Papyri’s Reference To Jesus Christ

Several magical papyri which have survived from [the days of the apostle Paul] to ours contain attempts to reproduce the true pronunciation of the ineffable name – Iao, Iabe, and so forth –  as well as other Jewish expressions and names such as Sabboath and Abraham, used as elements of magic spells. The closest parallel to the Ephesian exorcists’ misuse of the name of Jesus appears in a magical papyrus belonging to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, which contains the adjuration: “I adjure you by Jesus, the God of the Hebrews.” – F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, Eerdmans Publishing Company. 198 8 , p. 368.

The use of Jesus’ name by the Jews in an attempt to heal was sternly denounced by some rabbis. – K. Preisendanz. Papyri Graecae Magicae, I (Leipzig, 1928), Pap. Bibl. Nat. Suppl. gr. 574, lines 3018-19; Tos. Hullin 2.22-23; TJ Shabbat 14.4.14d  and ‘Adodah Zarah 2.2.40d0d-41a; TB ‘Adodah Zarah 27b. cited in footnote 32 of F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, Eerdmans Publishing Company. 198 8 , p. 368.


The Graece Magicae Papyri statement reveals several key things:

  1. Jewish exorcists used Jesus’ name in an attempt to heal (see Acts 19:13-16 for a New Testament example).
  2. The Jewish rabbis rebuked other Jews for using Jesus name.
  3. The use of Jesus’ name was believed to result in healing.
  4. The quotations suggest that power resided in the name of Jesus Christ.