The historian of religion will be especially interested in the kind of syncretism represented in the Greek magical papyri. This syncretism is more than a mixture of diverse elements from Egyptian, Greek, Babylonian, and Jewish religion, with a few sprinkles of Christianity. Despite the diversity of texts, there is in the whole corpus a tendency toward assimilation and uniformity.

In the hands of [the] magicians … the gods from the various cults gradually merged, and as their natures became blurred, they often changed into completely different deities. For these magicians, there was no longer any cultural difference between the Egyptian and the Greek gods, or between them and the Jewish god and the Jewish angels; and even Jesus was occasionally assimilated into this truly “ecumenical” religious syncretism of the Hellenistic world culture.

The people whose religion is reflected in the papyri agree that humanity is inescapably at the whim of the forces of the universe. Religion is nothing but taking seriously this dependency on the forces of the universe. Whether the gods are old or new, whether they come from Egyptian, Greek, Jewish, or Christian traditions, religion is regarded as nothing but the awareness of and reaction against our dependency on the unfathomable scramble of energies coming out of the universe. In this energy jungle, human life can only be experienced as a jungle, too. People’s successes and failures appear to be only the result of Chance (Tyche). Individuals seem to be nothing but marionettes at the end of power lines, pulled here and there without their knowledge by invisible forces.

In a transitional culture like Greco-Roman Egypt, a religious functionary who operated as a crisis manager became a necessity to the lives of ordinary people. This role the magician was able to fulfill.