29 July 2017

Sub tuum praesidium (2).


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 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 ... hand me the shaker ... now, which of the grandchildren has been at the gin ... what was I saying ...

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