Saint NameElijah, Old Testament prophet : S00217
Enoch, the seventh Patriarch of the Book of Genesis : S00762
Saint Name in SourceἘλίας
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements
Evidence not before400
Evidence not after1300
Activity not before400
Activity not after1300
Place of Evidence - RegionAegean islands and Cyprus
Aegean islands and Cyprus
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcThera
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Thera
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceOn the capital of a little column. Dimensions of the capital: H. 0,07 m; W. 0,155 m. Height of the column: 0,395 m. Found in the summer of 1899 in a field, near the village of Kamari on the island of Thera, during the digging of a pit. First edited by Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen. Now lost.
DiscussionThe inscription is an invocation of the God of Enoch, the seventh Patriarch and an ancestor of Noah, and Elijah, the Old Testament prophet, by an unnamed supplicant. Henri Grégoire suggested that the two figures were invoked together, as both of them were said to have been taken by God to Heaven (for Enoch, see: Gen 5,24: καὶ εὐηρέστησεν Ενωχ τῷ θεῷ καὶ οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο ὅτι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεός / 'And God was pleased with Enoch: and he was not found; for God translated him', Hbr 11,5: πίστει Ἑνὼχ μετετέθη τοῦ μὴ ἰδεῖν θάνατον, καὶ οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο διότι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεός· πρὸ γὰρ τῆς μεταθέσεως μεμαρτύρηται εὐαρεστηκέναι τῷ θεῷ / 'By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God'; for Elisha, see: 2 Kings 2,11: καὶ ἰδοὺ ἅρμα πυρὸς καὶ ἵπποι πυρὸς καὶ διέστειλαν ἀνὰ μέσον ἀμφοτέρων καὶ ἀνελήμφθη Ηλιου ἐν συσσεισμῷ ὡς εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν / 'there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven'). Distinguished by such a peculiar prize for their piety, the figures frequently appeared in Christian Apocrypha and were sometimes invoked in liturgical prayers (for an invocation from the so-called Liturgy of John Chrysostom, see Brightman, F.E. (ed.), Liturgies eastern and western (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896), 358: τῶν ἁγίων ἐνδόξων προφητῶν Μωσέως καὶ Ἀαρών, Ἠλιοῦ, Ἐλισσαίου, Δαυΐδ καὶ Ἰεσσαί, τῶν ἁγίων τριῶν παίδων καὶ Δανιήλ τοῦ προφήτου καὶ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων προφητῶν / 'of the holy (and) glorious prophets Moses and Aaron, Elijah, Elisha, David and Jesse, of the Three Holy Children (in the Fiery Furnace) and Daniel the prophet and all the holy prophets').
Hiller von Gaertringen sought for Adolf von Harnack's opinion on dating this inscription. Based on the contents, Harnack stated that it was unlikely to predate the 3rd c. Grégoire and Kiourtzian dated the inscription to the 4th/early 5th c., as the apocryphal Book of Enoch became less popular after that period. But we must note that this kind of invocation may be actually of a later date.
Kiourtzian, G., Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes des Cyclades, de la fin du IIIe au VIIIe siècle après J.-C., (Travaux et mémoires du Centre de recherche d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance. Monographies 12, Paris: De Boccard, 2000), no. 144.
IGC - Grégoire, H (ed.), Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes d'Asie Mineure, vol. 1 (Paris: Leroux, 1922), no. 166(4).
Hiller von Gaertringen, F., (ed.), Inscriptiones Graecae, XII 3. Supplementum (Berlin: Apud G. Reimerum, 1904), no. 1385.
Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 364, 374.