ANGELS — SINGULAR AND PLURAL

Here is a pleasant Russian icon of an angel, most likely once the right panel in a group of at least three related icons:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

Here is a closer look at the title inscription:

We see from the curved horizontal line above each word that they are abbreviated.  Here is the inscription with the missing letters added:

АГ[ГЕ]ЛЬ Г[ОСПО]Д[Е]НЬ
ANGEL’ GOSPODEN’
“Angel of the Lord”

Remember that when you see two Gs together in Church Slavic —  ГГ — they are pronounced like “ng” in “tangle.”  Also remember that Church Slavic has no words corresponding to English “the” or “a.”  So ANGEL’ GOSPODEN’ can be translated as “Angel of the Lord” or “The Angel of the Lord.” АГГЕЛЬ is the singular form of angel — used for only one.

You may recall that the curly ribbons at each side of the angel’s head represent divine hearing.

The angel holds a zertsalo — a stylized mirror — on which is written the word
СВЯТЬ/SVYAT’ — meaning “Holy.”  Sometimes shown as a sphere, sometimes as a disk, the zertsalo represents divine seeing — a kind of heavenly television set or surveillance camera.  Notice the stylized clouds around the edge.

Of course if there is more than one angel, the word changes to make it plural, as we see in this icon of the Old Testament Trinity:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

Here are the inscriptions on the three central angels (representing the Trinity in Eastern Orthodox belief):

Instead of writing “Angel of the Lord” on each halo, the painter has instead used the plural form for each:

АГГ[Е]ЛИ Г[ОСПО]ДНИ
ANGELI GOSPODNI
“ANGELS OF THE LORD.”

If you are curious about the title inscription on the top of the roundel, here it is:

It reads (modern Russian font):

ОБРАЗ ПРЕСВЯТЫЯ ЖИВОНАЧАЛЬНАЯ ТРОИЦА
OBRAZ PRESVYATUIYA ZHIVONACHAL’NAYA TROITSA
“Image of the Most Holy Life-giving Trinity.”

If you are a long-time reader here, there is no Church Slavic word used today that you have not seen before, so this is just a little review.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.