Several Mysteries: Boedromion 14/15 and More Argument about “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”

Professor Robert Mattheisen has again sent me a link concerning the controversy about the papyrus fragment now labeled “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” This link is to a paper by a Finnish professor demonstrating that Professor Watson’s analysis of the fragment is not logically tenable and that the fragment could be authentic. So enjoy. Please be aware that this sort of argument is the equivalent of Fantasy Football for us ivy-covered intellectuals.

In the meantime, since I have a student to tutor at noon tomorrow, and since our coven is meeting for Full Moon tomorrow afternoon, I might not have time to post a blog tomorrow, so I will post one today, covering the next two days of the Mysteries. As you can see, that for Boedromion 15 is especially interesting. As it is, I’m stealing this time from having to do lesson prep for my 9 am class on Monday. I am very grateful that the Dean has given me three classes for this term, but, man! Lesson prep for three courses new to me, out of mandatory syllabi written by other people, is a whole lot of work.

Boedromion 14

T he epheboi escort the priestesses, and probably the other officials, from Eleusis to Athens.  The priestesses carry the sacral items kept at Eleusis to the Eleusinion at the foot of the Acropolis (Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 151). They halt for a rest at the “Sacred Figtree” in the suburbs of Athens (Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, 602;20).

 Boedromion 15

This day was the Agyrmos, “assembly,” which was, according to Hesychius, the official first day of the Mysteries.  The Archon Basileus summoned the people to the Stoa Poikele (Painted Porch) to hear the Hierokeryx (sacred herald of Eleusis), in the presence of the Hierophant and the Dadouches, call, “Keep solemn silence.  Keep solemn silence.  We pray to Demeter and Kore, and to Ploutos and to all the other gods, for here we begin the Mysteries of the Twofold Goddess . . . ” (see Xenophon, Hellenica, 2.4, 20)  The Hierophant then declared, “I speak to those who lawfully may hear: depart, all who are profane, and close the gates. . . . If your hands are impure or your tongue unintelligible, I charge you once, I charge you twice, I charge you thrice to stay away from the sacred dance of the chorus of initiates.  Let all others who believe in the Two Goddesses perform the Mysteries, under the blessing of Heaven.  Lady Demeter, nourisher of our souls, make us all worthy to celebrate your Mysteries.” (I have assembled this speech from the fragments in Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, 3.13.118b; Tatian,  In Graec. 8; Theon of Smyrna, On the Utility of Mathematics, p. 22; Aristophanes, Frogs, 369-70, 886-7; and Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, 38.)

The Hierophant also apparently declared that initiates (at least for the duration of the festival) had to abstain from the flesh of barnyard fowl, eggs, fish, beans, pomegranates, and apples (these seem to be the rules of the nine-day “fast” that probably began on this day), and that touching these things made a person as taboo as touching a woman in childbirth or a corpse (Porphyry, On Abstinence, IV).  He then probably announced, “At our sacred Mysteries, all Hellenes shall offer first fruits of their crops, according to ancestral usage. . . .  To those who do these things shall come much good, both good and abundant crops, to whomever does not injure the Athenians, or the city of Athens, or the Two Goddesses,” that is, Demeter and Kore (Harrison, Prolegomena, pp. 150, 155).

Oh, maybe you don’t recognze any of the sources I’ve larded the above with? This is what one learns in a classics major. Do your homework.




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