Saint NameMary, Mother of Christ : S00033
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before500
Evidence not after600
Activity not before500
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionArabia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcBosra
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Bosra
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Sakkaia / Maximianopolis
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
SourceThere 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.
DiscussionThe 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.
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.
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).