Today we will look at a 13th century fresco from the cupola of the Boyana Church just outside of Sophia, in Bulgaria.
Of course we are already quite familiar with these “Lord Almighty” (Greek: Pantokrator) images, which are extremely common. This one, however, has a rather different Slavic inscription on the book.
Ordinarily, the book held by Jesus is the Gospels, and usually one of the standard Gospel texts is written on it. That is not what we find here.
Let’s look more closely:
When we put spaces between the words, we find it reads:
Видите, видите, яко азъ есмь Богъ и нѣсть иного развѣ мене
Vidite, vidite, yako az esm’ Bog i nest’ inogo razvye mene
“See, See, that I am God, and there is no other besides me.”
It is a variation on the words found in Deuteronomy 32:39 in the Old Testament:
Видите, видите, яко Аз есмь, и несть Бог разве Мене: Аз убию и жити сотворю.
Vidite, vidite, yako Az esm’, i nest’ Bog razve mene: Az ubiiu i zhiti sotvoriu.
“See, see, that I am, and there is no God besides me: I kill and create life.”
Similarly, in Isaiah 45:21 we read:
Аз Бог, и несть иного разве Мене
Az Bog, i nest’ inogo razve Mene
“I am God, and there is no other besides me.”