The "Mithras Liturgy" is a text from the Great Magical Papyrus of Paris, part of the Greek Magical Papyri, numbered PGM IV.475-834. The modern name by which the text is known originated in 1903 with Albrecht Dieterich, its first translator, based on the invocation of Helios Mithras (Ἥλιοϲ Μίθραϲ) as the god who will provide the initiate with a revelation of immortality. The text is generally considered a product of the religious syncretism characteristic of the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial era, as were the Mithraic mysteries themselves. Some scholars have argued that it has no direct connection to particular Mithraic ritual. Others consider it an authentic reflection of Mithraic liturgy, or view it as Mithraic material reworked for the syncretic tradition of magic and esotericism.
The codex containing the text was acquired by the Bibliothèque Nationale in 1857. It is thought to date to the early 4th century AD, though Dieterich proposed a date of composition as early as 100–150 AD. Its likely provenance in Egypt, where evidence of Mithraic cult is rare, presents a major obstacle to regarding it an authentic liturgy. Lines 475- 834 of this codex constitute the Mithras Liturgy.
Just hundred years after the first edition of Albrecht Dietrich's Eine Mithrasliturgie (Leipzig 1903; 1923), the present book offers a complete new edition of so complex a text. It provides the Greek text, an English translation, a punctual introduction, an extensive commentary, an index of Greek words and of the various voces magicae, and, finally, also an appendix, with photographic reproductions of the papyrus.
Not only Hans Dieter Betz is one of the most gifted scholars in the domain of primeval Christianity and Hellenistic religions, but he already devoted to the Mithras Liturgy a monographic essay, which is here enriched and largely supplemented. We particularly appreciated how Betz deals with the critical debate which spread from Dietrich's book (in particular the criticism put forward by one of the most important scholars of Mithraism, the Belgian Franz Cumont) and how he sets Dietrich in the historical and cultural milieu of his age.
Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum
2003 (1st published)
1st published in s. IV
160 x 235 mm