Saturday, April 07, 2007

An Ancient Insight on Prostrations

I meant to post this yesterday. Since we lie prostrate before the Cross on this Good Friday, I thought this post on the ancient history of prostrations' origins from Eric Jobe would be of interest.

In Ugaritic class today, we read, for the umpteenth time, a letter with the typical greeting formulae. Usually, when an inferior is writing to a superior, the greeting section includes a statement such as the following from two slaves to their master:

Vocalized text: lê pa`nê ba`lināyā ṯinêida šab`ida marḥaqtama qālānāyā

Translation: At the feet of our master, twice seven times from afar we fall down

This sort of formula may be seen with various numbers indicating the number of prostrations the inferior is hypothetically performing such as "seven times seven" or the formula n+1, "seven times and eight." These prostrations are understood from Egyptian relief paintings and Akkadian letters to be prostrations not only on the belly but also the back...It is a form of obeisance that was observed over 3,500 years ago and still used today by Christians all over the world.

Eric Jobe's scholarship is always appreciated. Let us all prostrate ourselves before the true Sovereign and Lord, ascending His Throne, the Cross of Glory, to free all mankind.



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