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Friday, April 06, 2007

Lindisfarne Gospels: 11

Another nomen sacrum found in the Lindisfarne Gospels is "ihu" for Jesus. In Greek manuscripts the name Jesus ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (iota, eta, sigma, omicron, upsilon, sigma) became ΙΣ, ΙΥ, ΙΗΣ, or ΙΗΥ, and this became what you see in the image on the left in miniscule, lower case - "ihu". These are the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek in the genitive case, meaning "of Jesus."

In the form of IHS, this was read in Latin as an acronym, Iesus Hominem Salvator - Jesus, saviour of mankind. However, in the Lindisfarne Gospels "ihu" was glossed simply as haeland, saviour or healer. Throughout these gospels Jesus' name is always written as haeland.

So it appears that in the Lindisfarne Gospels, Jesus' name has recovered its original meaning of 'salvation.'

    And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matt. 1:21
I can't tell whether this came about as a misreading of the Greek/Latin letters IHS or as a conscious understanding of the meaning of Jesus' name. Haeland in Old English is often translated into modern English as Healer. Now I can go back and reread the Dream of the Rood, with a new understanding. When it says,
    But lying there long while, I,
    troubled, beheld the Healer's tree,
I can also understand that it is roughly equivalent to the modern English,
    But lying there a long while, I,
    troubled, beheld Jesus' cross
The texts of Old English had once seemed curiously void of Jesus' name, but now when I read the word "Healer", I recognize it.


Further note on the papyri.

In the earliest manuscripts a lunate 's' was used, so the earliest nomen sacrum in the papyri for Jesus was IC or IHC. Joshua's name appeared identically in the Septuagint so the copyists seem to have thought of them as the same name.

The first image is from a third century MS 2648, Joshua in the Septuagint, on this page; and the second one, Jesus, is from John's gospel, P66 from here.

Full page image of Matt. 1:1 in the Lindisfarne Gospel (Right click and open in new window. Then read with the glosses below)
English - The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham
Old English gloss - bóc cneoreso haelandes cristes davides sunu abrahames sunu
Latin - liber generationis Iesu Christi filii David filii Abraham ("ihu xpi" for Jesus Christ)


Further note:
In the last century "Heiland" was a name taken by Hitler so this way of translating savior in the German Bible became highly problematic.



At Sat Apr 07, 01:56:00 AM, Blogger DavidR said...

"Joshua's name appeared identically in the Septuagint so the copyists seem to have thought of them as the same name."

Very much so! Thus Graeme Auld's subtitle to his commentary on LXX Joshua: "Jesus Son of Naue in Codex Vaticanus".

At Sat Apr 07, 07:10:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

But if the nomina sacra was used for Joshua it wasn't really a sacral use was it?


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