P.Köln 8.340, a long amulet containing both text and images, was designed as a request for healing and protection. It begins by appealing to a lengthy passage of scripture (John 1:1-11), followed by an invocation of the name of God, requesting that he send his angel to chase away sickness, evil spirits, the evil eye, and “every snare of humanity.” I am currently working on this amulet, which has a number of interesting features. Here is the text, following the NT portion, in translation (my own):
"I call upon you God, and Mary the God-bearer, Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that you might send your angel who presides over the healing of those who wear this adjuration [amulet] and implore him to chase away each and every illness and infirmity, every unclean spirit, every evil eye, every snare of humanity. I banish you by the glorious name of the Lord forever and ever. Amen, amen, amen.”
On the backside—in this case, we cannot speak of recto and verso because overlapping patches of papyrus strips preclude such identification—there are two drawn figures, both standing, depicted as praying in the orantes position, i.e., with their hands raised. In this post, I would like to correct the interpretation about one of these figures by the editor, F. Maltomini. According to Maltomini, there is a face superimposed onto the chest of the second standing figure. He describes it as lacking hair, eyebrows, eyeballs, mouth, chin, and neck. The eye sockets are described as tiny and round and the nose as being constructed by a line beginning at the top part of the forehead extending down the bottom of the face and finally curving off to the right. Maltomini wrestles with the identification of this “face,” and concludes by suggesting that it is “probably the person for whose healing the two stand praying their prayers.”
The problems associated with the identification of this superimposed “face,” however, can be easily resolved: what Maltomini describes as a “face” is clearly, in fact, an image of a woman’s breasts. This would explain, then, why this “face” lacks hair, eyeballs, eyebrows, mouth, and chin, and why the "nose" is represented by a long curved line. This identification is further secured by the fact that the standing figure has long, wavy hair; even the editor admits that this must be a female figure on this basis. The breasts are somewhat similar in appearance to the breasts depicted in another Christian amulet, P.Oxy. 8.1077, but are drawn at more of an angle.
One note on the NT text. If the owner of our amulet purchased it from a ritual specialist (i.e., a church leader), then this may mean that the text was copied from an actual manuscript, although we have no way of proving this, of course. Alternatively, since the Gospel of John was apparently popular in Egypt—for example, a high number of manuscripts of John were discovered at Oxyrhynchus—its text may have been part of the oral culture of the Christian community in which this amulet was produced and used. Either way, P.Köln 8.340 contributes to our knowledge of Egyptian Christianity in more ways than one and it, like many amulets, deserves the attention of early Christian scholars.
 My translation of “…probabilmente la persona per la cui guarigione…i due oranti levano la loro preghiera,” (Maltomini, “340,” 95).