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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  August 2005

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION August 2005

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Subject:

Re: Cybele and BVM

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 23 Aug 2005 23:28:51 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (79 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Jim,

Perhaps the thrust of my previous message miscarried.  I was not
questioning the well known reliance of early Christian art upon
previously existing image types.  My reservation has to do with the
insistence on the formative influence specifically of Isis lactans to
the practical exclusion of other potential models (though, to be fair to
Hendrix, he says that's "the kind of iconography", not "the
iconography", that seems to have been determinative).  I don't doubt for
a moment that Isis worship was influential in many ways: cf., as Maureen
Tilley has already noted, Gail Corrington Streete's article on a
1st-cent. BCE Isis aretalogy, also the aretalogical similarities between
Isiac and Christian practice noted by R. E. Witt in his discussion cited
by me in the post to which you are replying.  But, to repeat something
else from that post, there is this from Tram Tan Tinh that is worth
bearing in mind:
"Il est à rappeler enfin qu'à l'époque hellénistique et romaine, en
dehors du cercle isiaque, les figures d'une déesse allaitant un enfant
n'étaient pas rares."

Focusing exclusively on Isis could cause one to underestimate the
contribution to this iconography made by other ancient cults.

I hope, too, that when you say "Taking over an image type, however,
hardly presupposes that the theological 'definition' of Mary owed
anything to Isis" you are not responding directly to something you think
I had said or implied.  My PS at the foot of the post to which you are
replying should indicate the sorts of distinction I draw between
formally sanctioned theology and other, more "popular" forms of social
practice.

Best again,
John Dillon   

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Bugslag <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 7:57 pm
Subject: Re: [M-R] Cybele and BVM


> > Holland Lee Hendrix: 
> > "And then one of the most important representations of Isis is 
> what we 
> > call the Isis lactans, that is Isis suckling, nurturing her 
> offspring 
> > at her breast. This is a kind of iconography that appears to have 
> been 
> > terribly determinative in the early iconography of Mary and Jesus."
> 
> John, 
> This would hardly be unique.  There was no Christian art until the 
> 3rd century, and 
> when it began to appear, it was heavily informed by image types 
> that were already 
> known to the early artists responsible for Christian subject 
> matter.  Thus, for 
> example, the sleeping Endymion became Jonah resting under his gourd 
> plant.  
> Etc.,etc.  Taking over an image type, however, hardly presupposes 
> that the 
> theological "definition" of Mary owed anything to Isis, or -- 
> perhaps more obviously -
> - that Christian understandings of Jonah owed anything to the 
> legend of Endymion 
> and Selena.

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