4 February 2011

Sub tuum praesidium ...

There is an interesting Guest Article on NLM about this prayer; it refers to the initial controversy with regard to the dating of the papyrus on which the prayer is found, but, I think, ever so slightly fails to spot the real significance of that controversy. I therefore reprinted, earlier today, a couple of pieces of my own from last May.

Edgar Lobel's early dating of the papyrus, of course, simply gives us the terminus ante quem of this prayer. It could come from much earlier than 250, as I was trying to hint in my account of the Biblical language in which it is written. As far as theotokos is concerned, Tertullian writes Dei ... Mater; and one would expect such talk earlier in the East than the West; and particularly in the Egyptian backyard of S Cyril's own Church. It would be no skin off my nose if it turned up in a very early second century context. While I do not (for cogent reasons I am prepared to explain) see the cultus of our Lady as having anything whatsoever to do with that of the Ptolemaic goddess Isis, I do suspect that the coinage of the verbal compound theotokos is very likely to come from the same inveterate habit of linguistic ingenuity which generated the Isiac aretalogies of Pap Oxy 1380 and the Kyme stele published by Salac in 1927. Perhaps Callimachus of Cyrene coined it .... oops, he died before the Christian era ... but you know what I mean. He would have done it if ... come to think of it, I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of what S Cyril owed to Callimachus .... Oh dear, rambling off at a tangent yet again ... I think I'll just mix myself another White Lady before getting back to filling in that crap questionnaire sent to me by some prurient characters in Manchester ... hand me the shaker ... now, which of the grandchildren has been at the gin ... what was I saying ...

1 comment:

Pastor in Valle said...

Oh, those prurient characters in Manchester. Best of luck!