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E02117: Greek dedicatory inscription with a prayer addressed to Christ, asked to accept offerings through the intercession of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Izra/Zorava to the northwest of Bostra (Roman province of Arabia). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 14.12.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
σοὶ τῶν σῶν προσάγομεν, Χ(ριστ)έ, ὁ θ(εὸ)ς ἡμῶν· προσδέξε
ἡν προσφορὰν τῶν καρποφορησάντων (καὶ) καρπο-
φορούντων ἐν τῷ ἁγίῳ ναῷ τούτῳ, πρεσβείᾳ
τῆς σε τεκούσης ὡς προσέδεξου τὰ δύο λεπτὰ τῆς χήρας

'We offer unto Thee from Thine own, O Christ, our God: accept this offering of former and present donors in this holy church (naos), through the intercession of the one who begat you, as you accepted two copper coins of the widow.'

Text: IGLS 15/1, no. 188. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

History

Evidence ID

E02117

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Arabia Arabia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Bosra Izra/Zorava

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Bosra Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka Izra/Zorava Sakkaia / Maximianopolis Σακκαια Sakkaia Saccaea Eaccaea Maximianopolis Shaqqa Schaqqa Shakka

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Source

There is no detailed description of the stone on which the inscription was carved, and which is now lost. Maurice Sartre supposes that it must have been a large lintel with a circle containing a cross or a crown in the middle of the inscribed face, as the copy by William Waddington who saw the object indicates the presence of such a decorative motif. Found in a church in Izra/Zorava. First seen and copied by Ulrich Jasper Seetzen on 30 May 1805. Later independently recorded by William Waddington in the 1860s, who was probably the last person who saw the inscription. The most recent edition, by Maurice Sartre, is based on the earlier publications. Seetzen found another inscription in the same church (see: IGLS 15/1, no. 189). That text praises the greatness of God, His ability to work miracles, and stresses the unique holiness of the Holy Trinity. Based on this, Trombley suggested that the church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. He also argued that the shrine was probably built soon after the replacement of the cult of an obscure pagan God, Theandrites (see the comments in E01754), by the Christian religion, which he presumed to have happened in the early 6th century. Sartre rightly rejects these hypotheseis as too far fetched and lacking basis in the evidence. For another inscription from Izra/Zorava, probably from a church dedicated to Mary, see: E02114.

Discussion

The inscription begins with a popular dedicatory formula which appears in the anaphoras of the Liturgies ascribed to John Chrysostom and Basil of Caesarea (τὰ σὰ ἐκ τῶν σῶν σοι προσφέρομεν / 'thine own from thine own we offer unto thee'); the use of the formula in Late Antiquity is evidenced by a number of inscriptions from Anatolia and the Near East. Lines 3-4 express the belief that the intercession of Mary (as the influential Mother of Christ) is at least welcomed, or even necessary, for a successful offering, as people can only bring meager goods, compared with the magnificence of God. The inscription ends with a reference to the biblical story of the poor widow whose two copper coins were considered by Jesus to be a much better offering than the large sums brought to the Temple by rich people (see Mark 12,41-44; Luke 21,1-4). Dating: there is no reliable way to date the inscription. A date in the 6th c. is possible, as other dated texts from Izra/Zorava come from this period.

Bibliography

Edition: Sartre-Fauriat, A., Sartre, M., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 15/1: Le plateau du Trachôn et ses bordures (BAH 204, Beyrouth: Institut Français du Proche-Orient, 2014), no. 188. Felle, A.E., Biblia epigraphica. La sacra scrittura nella documentazione epigrafica dell'«Orbis christianus antiquus» (III-VIII secolo) (Bari: Edipuglia, 2006), no. 106. Waddington, W.H., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie (Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 1870), no. 2500. Kruse, F., Fleischer, H.L., Commentare zu Ulrich Jasper Seetzen's Reisen (Berlin, 1859), 78-79. Seetzen, U.J., Reisen durch Syrien, Palästina, Phönicien, die Transjordan Länder, Arabia Petrae und unter-Aegypten, vol. 1 (Berlin, 1854), 115. Further reading: Jalabert, L., DACL, vol. 3, 1738, no. 132. Trombley, F.R., Hellenic Religion and Christianization c. 370-529, vol. 2, (Leiden - New York - Cologne: Brill, 1994), 362 (English translation).

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