BR 17:04, Aug 2001
Going in Circles
The Manichaean story of Adam drawing circles around Seth to protect the child from the evil archon al-
S\indiµd is found neither in the Bible nor in any extrabiblical Jewish or Christian book. But there may be a reference (until now unrecognized) to Adams protective act in one of the so-called magical incantation bowls produced in Mesopotamia in the late first millennium C.E.
The inside of these ceramic bowls is inscribed with an apotropaic (protective) incantation (and sometimes an image) intended to ward off demonic attack. The bowls are inscribed in Aramaic and appear to have been used by Mesopotamias Jewish, Christian and gnostic (Manichaean and Mandaean) communities, for the inscriptions appear in the Aramaic dialects used by each religious group (Jewish Aramaic, Syriac and Mandaic, respectively). The Jewish Aramaic inscription on one bowl (photo below) reads: