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Christian symbolism can be found in Irish and Scandinavian mythologies, as the authors that recorded it were Christian and probably wrote about it centuries later. Was there ever a Christianization of Egyptian myths?

I am looking for some sort of text where a common Egyptian tale has some evident elements of Christianity incorporated in it. There is a gap of a few centuries of Christianity in Roman Egypt were that could have happened but maybe it was too short lived?

Most sources I could find deal with possible influence of Egyptian myths on Abrahamic religions, but I would like to know if the opposite ever had place. The same question could be asked about Persian and Islam influence on the myths. How did early Christians wrote about Egyptian myths?

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Perhaps at a late stage, you might find this, but the majority of our knowledge about Egyptian myths derive from a time well before Christianity was around, let alone popular. Even late writers like Plutarch are writing in a tradition where Christianity is unknown.

The reason you see hypotheses that Christianity influenced Norse and Irish mythology is that those who preserved the original myths were themselves Christians. Irish monks copying texts lived in a land that had long ago Christianized. For the Norse stuff, it is not even certain that Christianization is as prevalent as once thought. Baldr's death and Ragnarok are actually more likely to be inherent to Norse mythology and not imported from Christianity. As far as I know, there isn't any good evidence to suggest they were Christian outside of fanciful parallelomania.

For some criticisms of the connections, see Lars Lönnroth's Njáls Saga: A Critical Introduction p. 161 and thereabouts. In particular, he notes that there is no evidence of Christian Medieval stylistic traits in the sagas, that supposed parallels are merely the adoption of a Christian worldview. But this is patently untenable without concrete evidence.

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  • Good point, I am less interested in the Norse part anyway. I was wondering if there were any attempts to synchretize Christianity and ancient Egyptian religion. Oct 24, 2022 at 17:08
  • So late sources are fine for you then?
    – cmw
    Oct 24, 2022 at 18:06
  • Yes. Later sources would work. How late are we talking about? Oct 24, 2022 at 18:34
  • Possibly 3rd century CE, but maybe later. I don't have immediate access to my library right now, as I'm on vacation, but I'll try to see what I can come up with online soon.
    – cmw
    Oct 25, 2022 at 1:42
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I'll use my book review for the answer:

Extensive and well-annotated work with an informative introduction, presenting 38 out of 600 known and preserved Coptic Spells dated from III-XI centuries, in Faiyumic, Sahidic and Middle Egyptian, Bohairic coptic language variants Usually, when it comes to magickal technology, I observe the meta-structure of superoganic ideas, therefore the “deep grammar” of a given tradition, the mechanics torn of context and words, once I grasp it in historical setting, I tend to understand the “fillings”, whether be it sacred names, kharakteres*, figures, formularies etc.

Of course, a tradition would not work without a metaphysical system backing it, in mere isolation, in this case this is hooked up under Judeo-Christian layering architecture. How to understand an “architecture”? It is a historical layer construed magically that is filtering the powers, forces, natures of Earth, the Solar System and the stars in a specific religo-ethno-magickal way, attempting to bind objective forces to the given religion, tradition etc. Sometimes it is supported by cohorts of souls working in these traditions, after they were conceived in a particular belief-system, sometimes it is pointless, attempting to rebrand older traditions in new ways.

On a personal note: It seems that Judeo-Christian traditions didn't go to any extent to understand more profound ancient mysteries, like the Pharaonic deities Isis-Osiris-Horus, whose cults ceased to be operational by 5th century modern era, nevertheless they were preserved in Coptic Papyri in a mixture of Christianity and Egyptian ancient cults.

However, the Christian traditions were all to ready to appropriate them and reinterpret in the light of the mint new religion of Constantine the Great that enforced Christianity upon the peoples by an imperial decree in 313, whereas the numbers of Christians started to rise from barely 2-3 mln throughout the 45-mln strong Empire to greater numbers, and in Egypt from 10% to 70% population respectively.

People who got converted were usually either not educated in the magical techniques, they were not professional philosopher-magicians (an interesting deviation may be Cyprian the Magician, patron of Christian magick, when he got converted), but of rather lowly castes, nevertheless the reification of divine philosophies into a new religious “vehicle” was both a curse and a blessing, a curse because it destroyed the genuine traditions, a blessing because for those knowing how to read throughout it preserved extremely important essences.

*As I have discovered, the “kharakteres” might have been the source of seals and symbols in Picatrix (Buqratis by Pseudo-Maslama Al-Majriti), for example, carried on into later traditions, and the genuine encoding was that of letters written as voces mysticae, acquiring a sacred meaning.

Dosoo, Korshi and Preininger, Markéta. Papyri Copticae Magicae: Coptic Magical Texts, Volume 1: Formularies, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2024

Isis, Osiris and Horus survived well into - at least - 9th century and they were co-worshiped with Jesus, Mary etc.

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  • Could you edit your response to make it more clear where the review starts and ends. Also is the last reference your book. And finally, if I understand correctly, you are saying that there was no Christianization of the myths whatsoever? Jan 22 at 18:54

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