1st Edition

Religious Identifications in Late Antique Papyri 3rd—12th Century Egypt

Edited By Mattias Brand, Eline Scheerlinck Copyright 2023
    314 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    314 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume provides novel social-scientific and historical approaches to religious identifications in late antique (3rd–12th century) Egyptian papyri, bridging the gap between two academic fields that have been infrequently in full conversation: papyrology and the study of religion.

    Through eleven in-depth case studies of Christian, Islamic, “pagan,” Jewish, Manichaean, and Hermetic texts and objects, this book offers new interpretations on markers of religious identity in papyrus documents written in Coptic, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. Using papyri as a window into the lives of ordinary believers, it explores their religious behavior and choices in everyday life. Three valuable perspectives are outlined and explored in these documents: a critical reflection on the concept of identity and the role of religious groups, a situational reading of religious repertoire and symbols, and a focus on speech acts as performative and efficacious utterances.

    Religious Identifications in Late Antique Papyri offers a wide scope and comparative approach to this topic, suitable for students and scholars of late antiquity and Egypt, as well as those interested in late antique religion.

    A PDF version of this book is available for free in Open Access at www.taylorfrancis.com. It has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

    1. Introduction: Theorizing Religious Identification in Late Antique Papyri, Mattias Brand; Part I. Problematizing Religious "Identity" and the Identification of Religious Groups; 2. Christianization, "Identity," and the Problem of Internal Commitment, Egypt III-VI CE, David Frankfurter; 3. A Song-Sharing Service? Hymns, Scribal Agency, and "Religion" in Two Late Antique Papyri, Arkadiy Avdokhin; 4. Lifting the Cloak of Invisibility: Identifying the Jews of Late Antique Egypt, Arietta Papaconstantinou; Part II. Reconstructing Situational Religious Identifications; 5. Did Early Christians Keep Their Identity Secret? Neighbors and Strangers in Dionysius of Alexandria, presbyter Leon, and flax merchant Leonides of Oxyrhynchus, AnneMarie Luijendijk; 6. Χρηστιανὸς ἔστ(ιν): Self-identification and Formal Categorization of the First Christians in Egypt, Sabine Huebner; 7. From the Sacred to the Profane: Evidence for Multiple Social Identities in the Letters of the Nag Hammadi Codices, Paula Tutty; 8. Religious and Local Identifications in the Jewish Marriage Contract from Fifth-Century Antinoopolis, Susanna Wolfert-de Vries; Part III. Performance and Audience; 9. Aurelios Ammon from Panopolis: On Hellenistic Literary Roles and Egyptian Priestly Cloth, Benjamin Sippel; 10. "The Curses Will Be Like Oil in Their Bones." Excommunication and Curses in Bishops’ Letters beyond Late Antiquity, Eline Scheerlinck; 11. Religious Expression and Relationships between Christians and Muslims in Coptic Letters from Early Islamic Egypt, Jennifer Cromwell; 12. Social Contexts of the Biblical Quotations in the Letters of Frange, Przemysław Piwowarczyk; 13. Concluding Remarks: "The Artificers of Facts", Mattias Brand.


    Mattias Brand, PhD (2019), Leiden University, is postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zürich. His first book, Religion and the Everyday Life of Manichaeans in Kellis: Beyond Light and Darkness, was published in 2022. Apart from his work on Manichaeism, Brand works on the role of historians in the study of religions (forthcoming in the Journal of Religious History) and on a large comparative project about the transformation of religious practices within ancient and contemporary houses.

    Eline Scheerlinck is a classicist and Egyptologist, specializing in Coptic and Greek papyrology in late antiquity and early Islam. She is a doctoral candidate at Leiden University, within the ERC project “Embedding Conquest. Naturalising Muslim Rule in the Early Islamic Empire (600–1000).” She focuses on the different roles and interventions of the local elites in the society and administration of early Islamic Egypt. Her other main research interest is the history of the humanities (19th and 20th century). She gained a doctorate on this subject from Ghent University in 2014 and has published several articles in this field.